Bertrand Serlet is widely considered to be the brains behind Apple’s Mac operating system. He was even mentioned as a possible successor to Steve Jobs at one point. So it came as a shock to some when Serlet decided to step down in March, 2011 after 22 years with the company.At the time, Serlet offered a vague explanation for his decision, noting that he wanted to “focus less on products and more on science.” He didn’t mention any specific plans at the time and has effectively dropped off the radar, until now.
Business Insider has learned that Serlet has spent much of the time since his departure from Apple working with at least two other former Apple employees to launch a cloud computing startup in downtown Palo Alto called Upthere.
The startup is still in stealth mode, so information about it is scarce, but we’ve uncovered a few details about the company through job postings, trademark requests, domain name registrations and tweets from employees.
The earliest reference to the company online dates back to April of last year, right after Serlet left Apple, when Upthere, Inc was granted the trademark for “Upthere.” In that initial trademark request, the startup is described as being a “cloud hosting provider” which offers “consulting services in the field of cloud computing.”
Job postings for design engineers started popping up towards the end of 2011, by which point the company described itself as being an early stage startup looking to build a cloud storage feature, with seven employees on staff.
Some of these job postings also allude to the fact that the startup was founded by high-profile ex-Apple employees.
“Our founders were key to building the world’s leading operating system (Mac OS X) and database (Oracle) and have a clear vision of core technology for a Cloud OS,” one posting notes.
We have since learned that this is a reference to Serlet (the brains behind Mac OS X) and Roger Bodamer, a former VP of product operations and development at Apple who previously worked at Oracle.
We first heard about Upthere earlier this month by chance while looking through the LinkedIn profile of Justin Maxwell, a former user interface designer at Apple who later worked at Mint. We noticed that he’d spent the past eight months working at an unknown company called Upthere. Curious, we started Googling and came across the job postings as well as this tweet from Maxwell referencing Serlet and Bodamer (which was also retweeted by Bodamer):
— Justin Maxwell (@303) May 18, 2012
We reached out to Serlet and Bodamer through their Upthere email addresses to find out more about the startup’s mission and their roles in it. Bodamer responded to us with a “no comment.”
Based on the job postings we’ve seen, it’s clear the startup is looking to rethink the way people store files in the cloud, though just how this service will compare to options like Dropbox or Apple’s own iCloud feature remains unclear. At the moment, the only trace of the startup’s efforts is a static webpage with the company’s logo.