People at Olive Tree
Last week we announced that Stephen Johnson, formerly the CTO of Olive Tree, had been promoted to the position of Chief Executive Officer. We are very excited about this transition and the ways in which Stephen’s enthusiasm and experience will impact Olive Tree for the better. Around here we know Stephen to be a driven and skilled developer and committed family man. We thought you should get to know him, too.
Here are ten things you should know about the new CEO of Olive Tree Bible Software:
1. He likes to build things.
Stephen: When I was a kid, I thought I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. Two things changed my mind: the first was realizing that I hated the sight of blood, and the second was knowing I wanted to build and create new things. In college, I saw my future in building and crafting amazing products. I love the problem solving and design side of software engineering, but what really excites me is creating a product that has an impact on our world and that people love.
2. He has a Master’s Degree in Computer Science.
Stephen: I studied two and a half years at Arizona State University and then transferred to a small Catholic school, the University of Portland. I got a BS in computer science from UP. The small classes and professors like Dr. Vegdahl really helped accelerate and deepen my understanding of software engineering. After I graduated from UP, I worked at Tektronix for a year. I had a great job, but I was itching to go back to school and continue learning, so I went to Portland State University and got a master’s degree in computer science. My master’s thesis was on debugging functional logic languages. I had a blast diving into functional logic research languages.
3. He loves his family.
Stephen: I have been married for just over four years. We have two kids, a two-and-a-half-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter.
4. He is outdoorsy.
Stephen: I love being in the outdoors. I mostly go hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking. We have a ton of fun taking our family out on short hikes. It is awesome seeing my son enjoying running through the woods. My daughter has a great time watching it all from my back.
5. He bikes to work.
Stephen: I usually ride my bike to work. The amount I ride my bike varies by season, but I managed to ride my bike to work at least once each month over the last 12 months. I think the coldest morning was around 15˚ F.
6. He is a member at a local church.
Stephen: I attend Grace Christian Fellowship. There is a lot I love about GCF. I love that it is radically gospel centered and focuses on how the gospel applies to my life, my marriage, my family, etc. I deserve eternal hell and judgment and yet God in his infinite and amazing mercy chose to save me! Amazing!
7. He loves to read.
Stephen: There are a number of books that I’ve really enjoyed reading. I love reading fiction. The Chiveis Trilogy from Crossway is a great trilogy (I haven’t had a chance to read the last of the trilogy that just came out a few weeks ago, but I’m planning on it). Probably my favorite fiction series is the Mark of the Lion by Francine Rivers published by Tyndale. For non-fiction, I like reading business books like Good to Great by Jim Collins. I am currently reading The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni (this book is amazing!).
My favorite book of the Bible is Romans. It is such a clear presentation of the gospel and how it applies to my life. My favorite Scripture passages are 2 Corinthians 4:18 and Philippians 2:12-13. We are responsible to “behold the Lord” and “work out [our] own salvation” yet it is only God who “transforms” and “works in us.” This is such an awesome tension. I am not called to just sit back and wait for God to change me, I have a responsibility. And yet there is no way I have any hope of changing myself. It is only God who can change my life. He deserves all of the glory!
8. He drinks coffee and tea.
Stephen: I mostly drink tea, but I love both. I got hooked on coffee in college when I would stay up late studying. I then started frequently getting headaches and I found that they went away when I didn’t drink coffee. So I started drinking tea instead. I love a good cup of black coffee (I am actually drinking one as I write this), but I have to be careful not to drink too much. I also love black tea, and I drink a lot of that. There are two things I need to get me in the mental frame of mind to build software, get work done, and let the creative energies flow: the first is a good cup of coffee or tea and the second is classical music. I am currently listening to Sibelius. Classical music and tea have an amazing way of keeping me at a high level of creativity for a long period of time.
9. He is ready to be the CEO of Olive Tree.
Stephen: I did an internship at Olive Tree 11 years ago and have been working at Olive Tree full time for just about 8 years. When I started at Olive Tree, we were a very small company and right from the start I jumped into the business. My preparation for being CEO is hands-on knowledge and experience. I have spent time learning the theoretical side of business from books, podcasts and trainings, but I think what prepares me most for this job is my day-to-day involvement in Olive Tree over the last decade.
10. He believes it is a privilege to work at Olive Tree.
Stephen: I love working on something that has an eternal impact. What we do at Olive Tree matters. It is an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to create tools that God uses in people’s lives. Just this morning a dad contacted me on Twitter to let me know how he was using our software with his son for their journaling time. It is an amazing privilege and so humbling to play even a small part in that father leading his family spiritually.
With all the exciting changes going on around here, we forgot to celebrate our own birthday! On July 4, 1996, OliveTree.com was created. The first items on our homepage were verses from John 1 and other verses that President Drew Haninger found in his morning devotions. Transferring over from the original site, ITB.net (ITB = “In The Beginning”), OliveTree.com added an online Bible search and later added free downloads of BibleReader for Palm.
We’ve come a long way in the last 16 years and hope to keep improving our website. If you’d like to help us improve OliveTree.com please take a couple minutes and fill out this Online Survey to let us know what you think.
Monday, July 9th marked the beginning of a new and exciting future for Olive Tree Bible Software. Stephen Johnson, Olive Tree’s Chief Technology Officer, was promoted to the position of Chief Executive Officer. Drew Haninger, who had been carrying both the President and CEO roles, will now focus his energy on the president’s role.
As CEO, Stephen will take care of the day-to-day operations of Olive Tree allowing Drew to focus his energy on setting the vision and strategy of the company, including developing his many creative projects and ideas. Stephen and Drew will work closely together to drive the technological innovation for which Olive Tree apps are known.
From the beginning, Stephen was involved with both the business and engineering sides of Olive Tree, from meeting with publishers to developing BibleReader for early platforms like Palm OS to making marketing decisions.
“When I started at Olive Tree in 2004, it was a small company, so you did a little of everything,” Stephen said. “We worked out of Drew’s basement and had company meetings in Drew’s living room or at Olive Garden.”
With the release of the iPhone in 2008, Stephen became the engineering department manager, and in 2009, Stephen took on the role of Chief Technology Officer. In order for Drew to focus on the core message of Olive Tree, someone needed to take over the daily responsibility of running the company. To Drew, Stephen was the obvious choice.
“For years, I watched Stephen grow into many areas of the company and knew Stephen could eventually take over this company,” Drew said. “He’s a young, committed Christian, experienced and knowledgeable about Bible software technology, and full of energy.”
Harnessing Stephen’s excitement in technology and business and Drew’s experience in Bible software, this new teamwork places Olive Tree in a position for immense growth and development. Olive Tree has experienced steady growth since its early days and continues to build apps that God uses to change lives. This transition positions the company to build on its momentum, and Stephen is excited to lead the amazing team at Olive Tree.
In a presentation on Monday, Stephen reminded Olive Tree employees that God uses their work to change lives. When they sync a user’s notes and highlights, they sync a pastor’s sermon on marriage from his desktop to his iPad that God uses to save a marriage or they sync a young woman’s highlights that she uses to share the gospel with a coworker.
“It is exciting and humbling to be involved in this awesome and eternal work,” said Stephen. ”I have the privilege of coming to work every day to collaborate with an amazing and passionate team.”
This leadership transition will continue to build momentum on a history of vibrant growth for Olive Tree and a commitment to a core message: that God uses Bible software to transform lives for the glory of His Kingdom.
There are always new things being discussed and planned at Olive Tree. Our newest and biggest project is what we’re calling by the code name the “Flying Eagle.” We’re not able to divulge any more details at present, but be assured that the talented and passionate Olive Tree staff is working hard to help you study God’s Word.
Here are some pictures from our company lunch today in which we discussed the details of Project Flying Eagle. As always, our lunch was delicious: sandwiches from a local sandwich shop, chips and salsa, fresh grapes, and soda (including the ever-present Mountain Dew that fuels many engineers!).
In line for food and drinks.
Mark A. is excited to eat his sandwich!
Stephen J. giving a presentation to the team.
Olive Tree’s President, Drew, and his wife, Sarah.
Elizabeth B: What is exciting about this version of Bible+?
Adam H: With Windows 8, Microsoft is looking for a very fast and fluid experience. Our goal with this version of Bible+ is to leverage that design and have the whole experience of the app be fast, smooth, and engaging.
EB: What are your thoughts on the Windows 8 experience?
AH: I love it. Microsoft has done an incredible job of providing a cohesive experience through Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Xbox. On top of that, they’ve added features that make things work well and are fun to use.
AH: Sure! The Share Charm, which debuts with Windows 8, enables apps to connect not only to the Windows operating system but also to each other. For example, when I’m reading a Bible passage in Bible+, I can bring up the Share Charm and am presented with a list of other apps that interact with that verse, such as Facebook and Twitter. This Share Charm feature is entirely dependent on the apps that the individual user has installed on Windows 8, giving users a lot of flexibility in customizing their experience.
EB: What would you say are the top highlights of the app, Adam?
AH: A major highlight to me is the fast experience of the app. Reading, searching, the verse chooser…they’re all incredible. Searching is still unbelievably cool to me. It’s accessible from anywhere through the Search Charm, and provides an amazing scope of search results, from a broad view of your whole library to a detailed look at individual books. Within a Bible, results are grouped by each book, and can easily be filtered by section, like the Gospels or Prophets. On top of that, searching is fast.
AH: The experience around our Windows 8 app is about beauty and simplicity with a focus on the reading experience and speed. We’re excited for the future features and development that we will add to the Bible+ Windows 8 app.
EB: What was the most enjoyable part for you of creating this new app for Windows 8?
AH: I think the most enjoyable part was seeing how Microsoft made it easy for developers to do what they wanted in order to provide the experience our users want. I’m really looking forward to seeing how all apps can leverage Windows 8 features to create an awesome user experience.
AH: I’m sure I have a tendency toward a starry-eyed view of this app, and not just because of my part in creating it. I genuinely feel that it’s a joy to use. My prayer is that it can help someone connect with God’s Word in a way they never have before.
Download the Windows 8 Release Preview here to check out the Windows 8 Bible app for yourself!
Happy Father’s Day to all you men who have been blessed with children! Fatherhood is an amazing gift: “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Ps. 127:3).
I have two little redheaded boys, Gabriel (4) and Asher (6 mo.), that I have the wonderful blessing and responsibility of raising. They continually bring me joy and happiness!
For those who are fathers, Father’s Day is a day where you are celebrated. And while I wish you blessings, I also want to encourage and exhort you, spurring you on to love and good deeds as a father. Fatherhood is a weighty calling. You aren’t just raising a pet or a plant. You are raising a child who bears the image of God and has a soul that will never die. No pressure!
As fathers we are called to do for our families what Christ did for the church (Eph. 5-6). We are called to love sacrificially so that they may flourish. We are to be a sanctifying presence in their lives, which means helping them combat sin and grow in righteousness. We are to be consistently washing them with the Word of God (which means we need to know it well), and bringing them up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”.
The only way we can do this is through Christ. Fathers should point to Christ, who is the only way to the one, true Father. When we are faithful fathers, by God’s grace, our children will be “like arrows in the hand of a warrior,” and we “shall not be put to shame” (Ps. 127:4-5).
Happy Father’s Day! May God richly bless you with his grace as you lead your family by faith!
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