Matt Baer has been interested in computers ever since he can remember. He was on the web at an early age, connecting over a dial up connection and chatting with friends on AOL Instant Messenger. He taught himself HTML around age 9, making small websites that mostly stayed on the ThinkPad 380 his dad gave him. Later, when his parents got cable internet and a router, he could finally tinker online from his bedroom, staying up late, throwing up little websites on AngelFire and Geocities and showing them to friends in school the next day.
His interest in creating digital things never waned. He soon learned how to manually make GIF animations, creating each one frame-by-frame in Microsoft Paint and compiling them with some shareware that kept working as long as you kept resetting your computer's clock. In middle school, instead of taking notes and memorizing most math equations, he programmed them into the TI-83 graphing calculator he (and everyone) used in class, and distributed those programs to friends.
As he got into high school and started searching for new things to learn, he started creating games. During class, he wrote games in TI-BASIC for the TI-83 and tried to not get caught by the teacher. At home, he'd get together with friends and come up with game ideas, implementing them with a program called GameMaker. Around age 13 he acquired a copy of (then Macromedia) Flash and, free from animating frame-by-frame, started creating more advanced animations and building games with ActionScript. Inspired by Albino Blacksheep and Newgrounds, he created a home for his work called FlashStuf. This largely served as his sandbox for learning more about the web and sharing all of his digital creations. By the end of high school, he was teaching himself PHP, creating an interactive / database-driven web application in FlashStuf, and thinking of new ideas.
In college, uninspired by freshman and sophomore year computer science classes, he started thinking about better ways to communicate online that didn't involve gathering everyone into a homogenous global network like Facebook or Twitter. Between classes he started working on LunchTable(s), a site where people could split off into small groups called "tables" and interact with each other in real time. Though some of his friends used it, it never really took off.
Baer immediately found a local startup to work for after college, helping build an augmented reality platform called FreshAiR. Here he applied his knowledge of the web, and soon picked up native Android and iOS development to assist the two other developers on the small team.
After a summer working there, he moved to north Florida and continued working remotely. But when the business model eventually didn't play out for the company, he joined a Jacksonville-based startup called SportsYapper, soon slipping into a role as Android developer. As he settled into the daily grind, on the side he worked on LunchTable(s), looking to whitelabel it. When an early client fell through, he split off the product into one called LunchTable, a seamless, anonymous group chat app, and presented it at the city's crowdfunding festival, One Spark. While little perspired from the event, the ideas behind it would solidify and grow in later projects.
After 18 months of working at SportsYapper, as the future started looking uncertain for the company, his ideas on privacy, anonymity, and usability were starting to condense and form an itch to start something new. One night in December 2014, he came up with the idea for Write.as, combining the ease of pastebin.com with the design of Medium. He started building a following around the product and ideas behind it, and released an Android app, Chrome extension, and command-line client. Then he quit SportsYapper — only to be taken up again soon by his old boss for a new startup, Breezy HR.
Today he builds the Android and iOS apps for Breezy during the day, and works on Write.as on nights and weekends. After 2½ years of unhurried, organic growth, Write.as has grown to host 36,000 articles in over 50 different languages, and sees more than 40,000 visitors every month.