Ukrainian software developers share their stories and photos from the war zone

Ukrainian software developers share their stories and photos from the war zone

Eugene Krupnov: “A day after we left, an enemy rocket hit a high-rise constructing not removed from our house in Kyiv.”


Picture: Eugene Krupnov

“Our daughter saved asking if we might die.”

Eugene Krupnov, developer of the favored Mac utility Unclutter, discovered himself answering his eight-year-old daughter with a little bit of pop-culture gallows humor. “Not right this moment, we joked, quoting Arya from Recreation of Thrones.”

On February 24, Krupnov and his household evacuated from Kyiv. “As we have been fleeing town, we heard how the shelling escalated, we noticed unthinkable site visitors throughout the highways and infinite strains at each fuel station. It was evening time. And it appeared like an apocalypse.”

“The primary days we had extra confusion, panic and anxiousness. Now you nearly get used to issues, and simply need to care much less. I attempt to devour much less information, because it usually brings stress and unhappiness.”  

— Unclutter’s Bohdan Toporivsky  

Krupnov instructed ZDNet, “A day after we left, an enemy rocket hit a high-rise constructing not removed from our house in Kyiv.”

Ukraine has a really massive tech sector. Based on Bloomberg, the nation boasts 1 / 4 of 1,000,000 tech professionals, lots of whom present coding providers to main gamers like Apple, Google, Lyft, Ubisoft, Daimler, BMW, Citi, and JPMorgan, amongst many others. Based on the commerce group IT Ukraine Affiliation, as reported within the Wall Avenue Journal, IT export quantity, “elevated 36% to $6.8 billion final yr, up from $5 billion in 2020 and $4.2 billion in 2019.” Based on Ukrainian developer outsource agency Daxx, by way of analysis from SkillValue, Ukraine’s builders rank fifth worldwide when it comes to general competence. There are additionally hundreds of entrepreneurial corporations constructing their very own software program merchandise. We spoke to eight of them this week.

Tanya Vert is a PR specialist at BeLight Software program. I’ve spoken to her through the years, significantly once I reviewed Dwell House 3D. The thought for this text occurred to me once I was utilizing Dwell House 3D final week to rearrange my house workshop. Right here I used to be utilizing a product to rearrange my house, when the builders have been shedding theirs. The BeLight crew is unfold throughout Ukraine now, with half of the crew staying in Odesa.

Once I checked in with Vert, she instructed me, “There are air raid alarms a number of occasions a day, explosions are heard on a regular basis. Folks spend a number of hours each day in shelters. There isn’t any subway in Odesa, so underground parking tons, basements and corridors inside buildings function shelters. Each evening, we get pleasure from missiles, drones and air protection efficiency within the sky over the ocean.”

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Headway startup crew within the first days of the battle.


Picture: Headway startup

Bohdan Toporivsky is search engine marketing and Content material Supervisor, additionally at Unclutter. He shared what he calls “our life today” with me. “The primary days we had extra confusion, panic and anxiousness. Now you nearly get used to issues, and simply need to care much less. I attempt to devour much less information, because it usually brings stress and unhappiness.”

In his electronic mail, he instructed me, “We’re comfortable to have sufficient meals and garments – too many Ukrainians haven’t got that luxurious. Most of my different buddies I textual content with are holding up comparatively properly too. It is fairly arduous to sleep, air raid alert wakes us up a couple of times an evening (extra in the course of the day) and we go to the basement a.ok.a. bomb shelter.”

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Bohdan Toporivsky: “It is fairly arduous to sleep, air raid alert wakes us up a couple of times an evening (extra in the course of the day) and we go to the basement a.ok.a. bomb shelter.”


Picture: Bohdan Toporivsky

Proper now, he is dwelling in a refugee/visitor home of a neighborhood church. “We settled there,” he stated, “not realizing for a way lengthy. It has been nearly a month now.”

Prior to now week, I’ve spoken to eight corporations both primarily based in Ukraine or with massive groups who work there. Amidst the horror of battle, there have been two themes that turned obvious throughout our conversations: their efforts to take care of enterprise continuity, and the Ukrainian spirit of their crew members.

Enterprise continuity and information safety

Skylum is an organization identified for its Luminar and Aurora HDR picture enhancing merchandise. Many within the Mac neighborhood know them by their authentic identify, MacPhun. Based on a publish by CEO Ivan Kutanin, his crew of 130 is at the moment scattered throughout Ukraine and the world. 

Regardless of all of the pressures he and his firm are going through, one of the crucial vital messages he desires his clients to listen to is one in every of reassurance, “Relaxation assured that we securely host all of our infrastructure and consumer information on Amazon Net Companies. All servers for this cloud service are positioned within the European Union and usually are not in Ukraine, so that you will be assured that your information is securely saved.”

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Picture: Anna Ustynova

The CEO of a software program firm is doing his finest to reassure his clients about their safety, whereas his personal crew is understanding of “bomb shelters, on the street, or within the properties of family members and buddies in safer areas.”

MacPaw is one other firm very acquainted to Mac customers. They make CleanMyMac X, Gemini Images, and the Setapp Mac software program subscription service. In a letter to ZDNet, Oleksandr Kosovan, MacPaw’s CEO and founder instructed us, “MacPaw is an organization from Ukraine and operates primarily in Kyiv. A part of our crew determined to remain in Ukraine to defend our nation and assist folks in want. Some crew members moved overseas to safer locations with their households and children.”

“There are numerous completely different conditions being skilled by our folks. Some have returned to 80-100% work capability, others are nonetheless in shock, whereas others are experiencing air-raid alarms each few hours.”

— Readdle’s Maria Henyk

Based on Kosovan, “These crew members who’re already outdoors of Ukraine are working to take care of MacPaw merchandise and the soundness of the corporate’s providers. Whereas making ready for the huge invasion, the corporate additionally organized an workplace in Ivano-Frankivsk, Western Ukraine. We ready the corporate to work fully autonomously.”

Kosovan instructed us he’s staying in Kyiv, “to guard Ukraine and cease the battle in any manner attainable.”

So is MacPaw CTO Vera Tkachenko. In a tweet, she says, “Seventh day of a battle. I am staying in Kyiv and have to maneuver to a shelter a number of occasions a day. Meals and medication provides are restricted. Civilians in suburbs are attacked with bombs a number of occasions a day. However our protection forces are actual heros and we’ll win!”

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Picture: Bohdan Toporivsky

Readdle is a Ukrainian-founded firm that produces Spark electronic mail and PDF Skilled. In an electronic mail dialog with Maria Henyk, Readdle’s PR & advertising and marketing supervisor, she instructed us, “We’re equipping a location in Odesa as a shelter for the crew, their households, and their pets. The corporate is offering monetary assist for all Ukrainian workers, together with help for many who can and wish to transfer overseas.”

“There are numerous completely different conditions being skilled by our folks,” Henyk instructed us. “Some have returned to 80-100% work capability, others are nonetheless in shock, whereas others are experiencing air-raid alarms each few hours.”

Henyk requested us to share this message, “As for our clients, nothing has modified for them. For a few years, we have been investing within the security and safety of our programs and merchandise, so every part customer-facing is up and operating. Thousands and thousands of individuals worldwide depend on our merchandise, receiving well timed updates and buyer assist.”

Anna Ustynova supplies communications and international PR for Headway, a maker of a motivational app. In an electronic mail, she instructed ZDNet, “For the reason that starting of the invasion, the highest precedence of Headway has been to make sure the protection and well-being of our workers and their households in Ukraine. We’ve launched an emergency plan, and now over 95% of the Ukrainian Headway teammates and their households, who desired to maneuver, are in a secure place.”

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Picture: Anna Ustynova

She continued: “Our Kyiv R&D unit settled down partly within the west of Ukraine, partly overseas. No worker was fired; as an alternative, Headway goes to rent extra Ukrainian abilities and all beforehand despatched gives have been secured and already two workers have joined us since twenty fourth February.”

Ajax System makes sensible alarms common in Europe. Valentine Hrytsenko, chief advertising and marketing officer at Ajax Techniques instructed ZDNet, “For the reason that outbreak of the battle in Ukraine, our firm is doing every part vital to make sure the safety and security of its folks, enterprise, and provides to companions.”  

“To guard the protection of our crew members, we can’t be offering additional particulars of our contingency plans or crew member areas.”

— Grammarly’s Jen Dakin

As with the opposite corporations looking for to retain some degree of normality within the midst of battle, Hrytsenko sought to reassure clients, “The Ajax server infrastructure features with out interruption, so customers and companions haven’t got to fret concerning the stability of already put in programs. Ajax’s servers are geographically dispersed all through Europe in Amazon information facilities in Eire and Germany.”

Grammarly makes a widely known cloud-based writing assistant. Based on Jen Dakin, client PR supervisor, “Grammarly’s first precedence stays the protection and well-being of our crew members. We’ve applied our contingency plans that embrace relocating crew members and their households to assist them stay secure.”

Past that, Dakin was protecting operational safety for Grammarly, telling us solely, “To guard the protection of our crew members, we can’t be offering additional particulars of our contingency plans or crew member areas.”

These builders are doing their finest to reassure their clients that their providers will proceed, whilst their world is being blown aside round them. Every of those groups spent years constructing their corporations and merchandise into successes, and making certain continuity of their companies – within the worst and most scary of circumstances — can be about survival. If their corporations undergo or shutter, they lose their livelihoods too.

However there’s a lot extra. Every of those corporations shared with me their contributions to the battle effort.

Ukrainian spirit

Jen Dakin instructed us, “Grammarly will donate the entire internet income earned from Russia and Belarus for the reason that battle began in 2014 via 2022 to causes supporting Ukraine—totaling over $5 million.”

Hrytsenko of Ajax Techniques instructed us about work the corporate is doing with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine. He described an app Ajax constructed referred to as Air Alert that “immediately informs concerning the starting and finish of a civil protection alert. The app generates a loud vital alert warning of an airstrike, chemical assault, or different varieties of civil protection alerts. The app receives indicators first-hand from Ukrainian regional administrations, permitting folks to react as shortly as attainable.”

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Picture: Anna Ustynova

Readdle’s Henyk instructed ZDNet concerning the dedication of the corporate’s workers and the way the corporate is supporting them, “Many individuals are participating in volunteering initiatives, and a few have joined territorial protection forces. We’re pleased with our crew and such energy and bravado and are protecting their positions open and paying all salaries for all folks as regular.”

In her electronic mail to us, she continued: “Readdle workers themselves have donated tens of  hundreds of {dollars} to the Ukrainian protection, and the corporate has matched this quantity.”

MacPaw’s Kosovan shared his pleasure in his crew: “MacPaw crew members volunteer to offer meals and medication, assist Ukrainian Military, donate blood and cash to Ukrainian charities like different Ukrainian residents all around the nation. A few of us are combating within the Ukrainian Military, Territorial Protection, and the Ukrainian IT Military.”

“We try to do what we are able to. Our warriors want all of the assist they will get, on all fronts.”  

— Bohdan Toporivsky  

Kosovan additionally tells us that for the reason that starting of the battle, MacPaw has been actively concerned in delivering humanitarian support to Ukrainians in want via the MacPaw Improvement Fund. In an electronic mail to ZDNet he stated, “The MacPaw Improvement Fund is ready to shortly supply and distribute massive portions of meals, medical provides, hygiene merchandise, and different humanitarian support to these in want. The Fund can do it quicker than most bigger organizations and this may help save lives when each second counts. Via the Fund, thus far, MacPaw has spent over $4M to offer meals, medical provides, and different requirements to Ukrainians within the battle zones.”

BeLight’s Vert instructed us a little bit extra about how her crew is supporting the battle effort: “We hold working from house now and assist Ukraine in each manner we are able to. Some with donations, others are serving to Territorial Protection with provides, or with the preparation of Molotov cocktails (a particular explosive substance utilized by civilians to battle the occupants), some joined the regional department of the Purple Cross in Uzhhorod, Western Ukraine, as a volunteer.”

For Unclutter’s Toporivsky, it is all about volunteering. He instructed ZDNet, “Just a few days after the battle started and we moved to that safer place, we understood that we couldn’t simply wait, learn terrible information, and take no motion anymore.”

“And 4 of us started doing no matter we may to one way or the other assist our Ukrainian defenders and victims of battle. Then six of us, then many extra in several cities of Ukraine and past,” Toporivsky stated in an electronic mail. “Thanks to varied buddies with connections to the Ukrainian military, volunteers, and funds, we began arranging humanitarian assist from Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and different European nations. Meals, medicines, garments, hygiene merchandise, and so forth. Navy tools and safety too, when attainable.”

“There aren’t many people, and the size might be a lot greater – we nonetheless try to do what we are able to,” says Toporivsky. “It is hardly attainable to do common work these days. Hoping I am going to get again to it later, when issues decelerate. In spite of everything, our warriors want all of the assist they will get, on all fronts.”

Life in Ukraine

Unclutter CEO Krupnov instructed us, “We have been planning to launch a serious replace this fall. And minor updates this spring. However now all the event has come to a halt. We’re solely in a position to present consumer assist.”

“Think about that your life has fully modified in just some days,” Krupnov stated. “It is vacancy, worry to your family members, and disgrace you are feeling since you do not do sufficient to your nation. It is a sensation of overwhelming despair every time you examine murdered civilians and youngsters or troopers who died defending their homeland. It is also destroyed cities – the locations you really liked and felt linked to.”

Nonetheless, he is hopeful. “Although we’re scattered throughout the globe now, we nonetheless be in contact and assist one another. Some day, after the victory, we are going to get collectively as soon as once more to proceed our work after an amazing celebration.”

If you wish to assist, we have offered numerous donation websites and assets you may discover within the companion article, “Ukraine: How one can assist.”


You’ll be able to observe my day-to-day undertaking updates on social media. Make sure to observe me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Fb at Fb.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.