Hatch is led by cofounders Darrin Massena (above left) and Mike Harrington (above right), seasoned technology entrepreneurs and successful product leaders. Since its start in 2021, Hatch has been dedicated to democratizing software for creative expression.
Photo credit: Danielle Barnum
Mike Harrington has loved building and shipping software since early in his career. Mike began as a programmer for game company Dynamix, then worked as a programmer at Microsoft for many years. In 1996 he co-founded Valve with friend and former Microsoft employee Gabe Newell. Mike and Gabe set out to make a story-driven, immersive PC video game with the latest graphics hardware at the time. The result was the 1998 hit Half-Life, which would change the first-person shooter genre forever. According to IGN the history of first-person shooters “breaks down pretty cleanly into pre-Half-Life and post-Half-Life eras.”
“At Microsoft you always wonder, ‘Is it me being successful or is it Microsoft?’” Mike said in an interview with Gamespot. “But with Half-Life I knew Gabe and I had built that product and company from scratch.” With that great success, Mike decided to move on from Valve in 2000.
Darrin Massena’s passion for fun and creative software experiences has been a consistent theme throughout his career. Darrin’s early professional work included developing 8-bit video games and educational software for Synergistic Software. He spent several years as a development manager at Microsoft where Bill Gates awarded him the Leonardo Da Vinci Award for Innovation. Darrin went on to build mobile software and his notable early projects included the first open-source development kit for Palm devices and QuickBits, a utility that dramatically enhanced the speed of PalmOS handhelds.
Darrin’s mobile development expertise led him to cofound Spiffcode together with a former Microsoft colleague Scott Ludwig. In 2003, Spiffcode released their award-winning real-time strategy mobile game Warfare Incorporated. According to Gamespot, Warfare Incorporated was “one of the best mobile representations of the RTS genre to date.”
How Darrin and Mike met
Mike was at Dynamix porting a baseball game from the Apple ][ to the Commodore Amiga. As Mike tells it, “the source code that was given to me was pretty complicated so I called the developer who wrote it, Darrin Massena, to better understand his highly optimized code.” A few months after starting at Microsoft, Mike noticed Darrin’s name in the new hire section in the weekly printed newsletter, the Micronews. The two hadn’t met in person yet, so Mike introduced himself. They were both working on operating systems– Darrin was in the User group and Mike was in the Graphics Engine group. Eventually they worked in the same group on Windows NT. Darrin later left to be the founding engineering lead and manager of Microsoft Bob and Mike joined him shortly after that, working on Bob until he left to start Valve.
Darrin and Mike stayed friends through the years and by 2005, the two decided to cofound a company together with a product that would disrupt online photo editing. Their service Picnik was an online photo-editing service with simple web-based tools to import and edit images. Along with Picnik’s massive user growth, Darrin was named “Innovator of the Year” by the Washington Technology Industry Association in 2009. By 2010, over 1 billion photos had been edited in Picnik. Picnik was acquired by Google in 2010.
In an early email to Mike about the possibilities for Picnik, Darrin called out the “potential inherent in allowing people to ‘upgrade’ their images to include animation, sound, and interactive elements (e.g. hover your mouse over each person in a photo to see their name).” While interactivity wasn’t necessary for Picnik’s success, Darrin suggested it “might break us through into something completely new.” It wouldn’t be until their next collaboration that Darrin and Mike would focus on unlocking web-based interactivity for a non-technical audience.
After their success with Picnik, Darrin and Mike spent time on passion projects. Mike was an advisor for various startups and joined Seattle-based Committee for Children as their CTO. Darrin enjoyed his time with family and friends while the seeds of Hatch were beginning to germinate.
By 2020, Mike and Darrin were talking about their next venture. From an early vision statement, they focused on their goal of democratizing software:
“What software developers can create with computers is a kind of magic! They cast an arcane spell and poof! Millions of people can play a game together or find their way anywhere in the world or share every moment with their friends. We want to give that magic power to everyone. To make it easy and fun to create exciting new digital experiences and personal solutions. As with other democratized media, we believe this will unleash a tsunami of individual creativity for everyone to enjoy and benefit from.”
In 2021 the partners made their first hire, established a Seattle office, and began working on the product that would eventually become Hatch. Since 2021, the Hatch team has grown to 14 full-time employees located around the United States. In that time, the Hatch product has grown into an online makerspace for tech-curious creators to build and share unique connected experiences. The creative platform supports robust no-code interactive effects, physics and gravity, customizable animations, programmability, and generative AI.