how grammarly readdle macpaw ukrainesullivan fastcompany: The country is home to a surprising number of known-name tech companies, as well as contract programming talent that works for companies around the world.
Russia officially invaded Ukraine Thursday. The U.S. and its allies are imposing sanctions, but, as U.S. President Joe Biden said in a press conference Thursday, they aren’t expected to immediately stop the Soviet advance. Meanwhile, the people of Ukraine nervously await what might come next.
The Ukraine crisis touches the tech world in a number of different ways. For example, a number of the U.S. sanctions relate to denying Russia’s ability to acquire high technology for military and other uses. And Ukraine is home to a number of business and consumer technology companies that impact the lives and businesses of millions of people around the world. I talked with some of them on Thursday, the first official day of the Russian occupation.
Grammarly may be the best-known Ukraine-based tech company. Grammarly is the maker of an AI-driven tool that helps people communicate better in writing. It is used by millions around the world, and has raised capital from some top-shelf VCs including General Catalyst and Blackrock. It’s now valued at $13 billion.
The company has a significant number of software developers in Kyiv, the city in which the company was founded in 2009. Kyiv is about 700km or 435 miles from the current conflict zone in eastern Ukraine. It also has staff in San Francisco, New York, and Vancouver, BC.
Grammarly spokesperson Senka Hadzimuratovic told me via email Thursday that her company is now executing the contingency plans it had in place to protect its employees in Ukraine. She says the company isn’t providing many details of the plans, in the interest of security.
The company also has contingency plans to keep its services running if the crisis deepens, she says. “This includes, for example, securing backup communication methods and temporary transfer of business-critical responsibilities to team members outside of Ukraine to ensure our Ukraine-based team members can focus on the immediate safety of themselves and their families.”
Kyiv-based Readdle is one of the pioneer app sellers in Apple’s app store. Over the years, it’s produced a string of highly praised productivity apps for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The company says it’s racked up almost 200 million downloads for products like PDF Expert and Scanner Pro. The company has more than 150 employees in Ukraine, board member Denys Zhadanov tells me.
I asked him what he thought the founders of Ukraine-based tech companies had on their minds today. “The consensus across all major CEOs is that Ukraine should be an independent state,” he answered. “This is an aggression of war.” Zhadanov splits his time between San Francisco, London, and Odessa, Ukraine.
As other Ukraine company executives have taken pains to point out, Zhadanov says his company had contingency plans and that its infrastructure and customer data are kept on servers based in the U.S. and Europe, out of harm’s way.