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Carl Erickson

CEO and Co-founder, Grand Rapids

Carl Erickson

I co-founded Atomic Object in the summer of 2001 with Bill Bereza, one of my former students at Grand Valley State University. We raised Atomic from the ashes of a dot-com startup where I had been VP of Engineering. When that company failed to get a second round of funding, it went under and left us with some office furniture, three interns, the remainder of a lease, and a missing final month's pay. (We still use the office furniture, one of those three intern runs our Grand Rapids office today, and I long since stopped missing the $10,000 final paycheck.)

My startup experience taught me two very valuable lessons:

  1. It's easy to build software but much harder to build the right software.
  2. Agile practices will change the software development world.

From 2000, I was an advocate for, and Atomic was a pioneer in, Extreme Programming. I founded the non-profit trade association SoftwareGR in 2003. As Atomic grew, I gradually moved from programming on a daily basis to running the operations of our Grand Rapids office. In January 2014 I took the title of CEO and started working on things with longer time horizons, like speculative development investments, governance, ownership, marketing, and growing our Ann Arbor office.

I'm an active angel investor, a member and director of Grand Angels, and managing director for Tappan Hill Ventures. I've served on the boards of Blue Medora, Local Orbit, Varsity News Network, and Mock Draft Central (acquired). 

I maintain my own blog, Great Not Big, where I share ideas about building and running an innovation services company. 

My first career was as a Professor of Computer Science at Grand Valley State University (1991-2000), where I taught courses on networking, operating systems, architecture, and object technology. I extended my professorial duties through 2009, and rediscovered my Swedish heritage, as a part-time industrial lecturer at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden where I taught a course entitled "Software Craftsmanship."

I've served on the boards of the Swedish American Heritage Society, the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, and Grand Rapids HQ.

I have a B.S. in electrical engineering from Purdue University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer engineering from Michigan State University.

On a personal level, I sail a Snipe at the Grand Rapids Yacht Club, enjoy owning interesting cars, love to snowboard, and play Swedish floor ball in the winter.

Papers and Presentations

The Atomic Team