There’s a new top Nerd in town.
Tom O’Neill has been promoted to CEO of Bloomington-based software design and development company The Nerdery. O’Neill had previously served as the company’s president for two years.
“The training wheels are off a bit,” O’Neill said in an interview. “There’s a little bit more pressure I think for me to perform where I hold ultimate responsibility, but honestly I think not much will change. … Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue to empower my fellow ‘nerds.’ ”
O’Neill takes over as CEO from Nerdery co-founder Mike Derheim, who retains his role as board chairman. As part of the transition, co-founder Mike Schmidt moves from chief information officer to vice chairman.
O’Neill credited the pair for empowering him with opportunities to take the lead.
“It’s a constant in our history that faith in the right people leads to success,” Derheim said at a recent staff meeting. He added: “The ultimate act of faith, in our minds, is to turn over control of this amazing company to the person we feel is best equipped to lead it into the future.”
The Nerdery designs and develops custom software for businesses. The company has worked on everything from helping to update the underlying content management system for Purina One pet food’s website to fixing code issues with Chamberlain’s mobile application used to open garage doors.
The company has a staff of about 500 “nerds” and preaches a culture of distributed leadership where everyone is a “co-president” — credited to late co-founder Luke Bucklin.
Last year, the company saw double-digit growth in revenue.
“Enterprise leaders in big businesses, I think, are using technology to leverage business change more than ever before, and the tools that we have today are much different and much more powerful and help us get to market faster,” O’Neill said.
The Nerdery’s biggest challenge is to keep pace with evolving technological tools, he said.
O’Neill joined the company as a programmer in 2004. Later, as vice president of software development, he launched the Nerdery’s Chicago branch. He returned to Minneapolis as chief operating officer.
In 2013, O’Neill became the Nerdery’s first president since Bucklin, who was killed in a 2010 plane crash in the mountains of Wyoming.
As of now, O’Neill said there are no plans to fill his former position as president.