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The LabKey Story

LabKey got its start in 2003, when Professor Martin (Marty) McIntosh started hunting for talent to build tools to manage a growing deluge of proteomics data at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Officially, Marty asked his friend Mark Igra to help him edit a job description. Unofficially, he was fishing.

Fred Hutch Campus
Image source www.fredhutch.org

Mark was intrigued. In the ’80s and ’90s, Mark had been a Program Manager for Microsoft Office Excel, the Swiss Army knife of bioinformatics, and co-author of the widely used EndNote reference tool. He asked about sharing the job with his friend Matthew Bellew, a lead developer of the first versions of Microsoft Access and SQL Server.

Mark and Matt were sold after Marty brought in his recruiting ace – Lee Hartwell, Ph.D. and Nobel Prize winner in medicine, whose passion for early detection of cancer helped shape Fred Hutch’s mission.

Within a week or so, their friend Adam Rauch had joined them in the development effort. Adam was paid exclusively with the princely treasure of a parking pass. Adam had designed the first two versions of Microsoft Visual Basic.

Starting in October 2003, these three friends worked in an empty, “interstitial” (partial) floor of the C building at the Fred Hutch. Their primary sight of the outside world was the weekly appearance of a yoga class in the floor’s conference room. The future home of LabKey Software (the Arnold building at the Fred Hutch) was not yet built. They quickly began developing the core of LabKey Server, initially called CPAS (the Computational Proteomics Analysis System).

Don Listwin of the Canary Foundation has described scientific open source software as having “the half life of a graduate student.” Mark, Matt, Adam and Marty had a vision for robust, open source software that would break this mold. It would be useful to scientists beyond Marty’s lab, beyond the lifespan of any single project. It would be maintained and improved by professional engineers, not graduate students alone.

Soon other scientists noticed how handy Marty’s team (and their software) could be. Projects beyond proteomics appeared. More projects arrived than the three-person team could handle. Old friends George Snelling, Peter Hussey and Brendan MacLean joined the team in early 2005. The founding six LabKey Software partners had worked together since joining Microsoft in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Most had founded a software company together (Westside) and sold it to BEA (now Oracle).

As the team grew beyond the McIntosh Lab, Fred Hutch and the LabKey Software team agreed to spin out a small company devoted to building software for scientists. In January 2005, LabKey Software came to be. The company is partly owned by the Fred Hutch. In August 2013, the team moved just a few blocks south of Fred Hutch after growing in-house for 8 years.

Today, the LabKey team has software development experience that spans decades and major companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Oracle. Many have worked together since 1989. Together, they have been granted numerous patents, and a multitude of peer-reviewed scientific papers.

Our Values

Accountability – for each other, ourselves, our clients, and our products

Collaboration and Respect – we value working across teams and closely with our clients with transparency, integrity and respect

Community – we guide our decisions by the impacts they may have on our employees, our clients and the betterment of human health

Diversity and InclusionWe acknowledge and honor the fundamental value and dignity of all individuals  

Innovation and Flexibility – we search for creative solutions by taking initiative, encouraging change, and accepting risk

Passion, yes! Drama, no! – because life is too short and our work is too vital

Our Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

As a company dedicated to creating solutions for scientists to pursue the betterment of human health around the world, we take equality seriously.  Our clients come from, and work, around the world.  True innovation comes from a mix of diverse ideas, experiences, and people.  The collective sum of our diverse experiences drives innovation. LabKey is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels of the organization.

  • LabKey believes that Black lives matter and we have a responsibility to address systemic and historical racism in our communities by taking positive action
  • LabKey pays employees to volunteer in the non profit of their choice – up to 7 days per year at 100% pay
  • We actively participate in the community including hosting Girls Who Code and supporting non profits/community based orgs
  • We promote from within with the understanding that diverse voices make our organization stronger, and we will continue to do so –  over half of all senior and mid level staff have been promoted internally
  • We ensure pay is fair and not based on implicit bias or any other discriminatory reason
  • LabKey provides non-gendered parental leave, a nursing room and real workplace flexibility
  • LabKey runs an internship program with the goal of recruiting and training the next generation
  • We promote and feature women and speakers of color at our Annual Users’ Conference
  • We are committed to ensuring our Leadership Team and Board of Directors is representative of our company and our community
  • Our values are captured in our internal objectives – including underrepresented communities for recruitment, we have also chosen a workplace flexibility approach to be inclusive of the diverse beliefs of our staff
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