Meet the Founders: Mac Morgan

Last week, you heard all about Jason Allum, one of our partners. Today, you’ll meet Mac Morgan, another founder who brings the…er, character…to our office. If we had to nominate a Tonic mascot, it’d be Mac (if only we could keep him censored).

Little Mac

Like Jason, Mac was bitten by the tech bug pretty early in his life. Both his parents are physicians, but his dad dabbled in computer science before choosing his career in medicine. Mac’s childhood home was filled with all sorts of tech toys, and he had the chance to play with cool stuff like the Commodore PET. He even managed to hack his way into age-inappropriate games like Leisure Suit Larry – which, now that we think about it, explains a whole lot about Mac’s charming demeanor.

By around age 13, Mac had learned to code through a potent combination of his own curiosity, helpful peers, bulletin board systems, and a few obligatory stints at computer camps. He could program in BASIC, Pascal, Java, and C; he put it all to good use by building websites for fun, mostly for his friends’ parents’ businesses.

When it came time to think about college, the choice was clear: Computer Science was the degree to pursue. Mac went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY – and like many college graduates, he’s not really convinced that it did him much good. Reflecting on the experience, he recently said, “In the first two years at least, I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know.”

What did help his career was the internship he got while he was in school. Through a friend he knew from a car club, he started working for i-Frontier, one of the digital pioneers in Philly. Here, he got the hands-on experience that often teaches far more than school curricula can.

After graduating from RPI in 2003 (and while still working at i-Frontier), Mac and his master mechanic friend, Vince, partnered up to create a company that builds performance cars. R/T Tuning was a side project for Mac for around 2 years, but it picked up enough speed to become a full-time gig, so Vince took it over.

Bigger Mac

Eventually, i-Frontier was acquired by the Seattle-based ad agency aQuantive (now a Microsoft company) and turned into Avenue A/Razorfish. Mac stayed on for the transitions but eventually left to work for Refinery, where he wound up meeting many of the folks that would ultimately work with him at Tonic – including then-designer and now co-founder Brian Brossman, whose story you’ll hear in the next installment.

Later, Mac wound up working at Ticketleap, where he was brought in to help re-platform their whole system. Here, he and Jason Allum worked together to scrap the clunky old code and streamline the system down from around 990,000 (yes, almost a million!) lines of code to about 25,000. Over the next few years, they were called in to tons of software projects to work their unique brand of magic. There’s no shortage of wonky code out there, just begging to be fixed, so they co-founded DmgCtrl, a company whose main purpose was exactly that.

Two Teams Become One

In a weird twist of fate and unbeknownst to one another, a small visual-design studio called Tonic Design was founded on the same day as DmgCtrl. The two teams would meet later, brought together by client projects that required both design and development work. Their shared passion, work ethic, and cultures were pretty obvious right away, and they realized it was silly to operate as two separate parts of a whole. They merged to form Tonic Design Co., a full-service design and development shop that could provide clients with the full gamut of creative tech services.

Nowadays, Mac is the go-to guy for emerging tech: He’s a huge proponent of staying ahead of the curve and is always happy to support anyone interested in machine learning, virtual reality, bots, or anything new in the field we all love. He’s one of the biggest driving forces behind Tonic’s strong and unwavering focus on learning new things. He also provides the laughs, levity, and entertainment that we all need every day. In short, Mac is the embodiment of what we all love about Tonic.