Syde CEO Alex Frison

Beautiful landscape with fields and forest, home of Inpsyde CEO Alex Frison

At Inpsyde, we always strive to improve ourselves. That’s our inspiration.

In this article, we want to introduce Alex Frison. Alex is a shareholder of Syde. He was project manager at Syde for 6 years before he became CEO at the end of 2018. Here, he tells how he came to Syde and what is important to him in life and at work.

This is Alex Frison

Alex Frison is 43 years old and lives in Damme, Germany.

Alex Frison with his little daughter in his arms in his home office
Alex and his daughter

I live in beautiful Damme, away from the big cities, 100 km south of Bremen, near Osnabrück. I like living there. The town is small enough so it is still rural and you know many people here. But also big enough to experience a lot of things here, for example the carnival.

How can you be described?

As a social and communicative person with a positive mindset. I am a pragmatist, I want to try out, implement and results are important to me. One of my favorite quotes is:

Talking about matters that cannot be decided by talking is a habit you have to give up.

‒ Bertolt Brecht

How do you spend your free time?

If possible, then with my daughter and my wife, but I also like to simply enjoy the time with my best friends and to laugh together. Otherwise sport ‒ what is still possible in my old age ‒ and traveling. 

When traveling, it is important to me to get to know the culture and the people of the country. I am particularly interested in Asia and South America. But I don’t want to spend my time in a hotel or a holiday resort. When I travel, I make real trips or something like Airbnb. For example, I was in Cuba for three weeks. You live together with the locals, eat with them, let them show you the surroundings … we even took part in family celebrations. 

Do you even have enough time for hobbies as CEO of Syde? What about your work-life balance?

Sometimes you’re just like in a hamster wheel. But a balance between work and leisure time is actually important to me. This is also part of my bucket list. My only job later should be to hire people who are better than me. But we are on a good path. Syde has grown considerably in recent years. We have, for example, established a new marketing, QA and also business operations team and expanded our project teams. The work is now spread over many heads and this also relieves the management.

What is important to you?

Health and harmony with my fellow men. Everything else comes naturally. Over time, I have written down some of my principles for Syde: 

Humans first. I believe that happy, informed, and productive humans build fantastic websites and plugins. I want to optimize this place for these people. Other leaders will maximize the business, the technology, or any other number of important facets. Ideological diversity is key to an effective team. All perspectives are relevant, and we need all these leaders, but my focus is on building productive humans.

Leadership comes from everywhere. While I believe managers are an essential part of a scaling organization, I don’t believe they have a monopoly on leadership. And I work hard to build other constructs and opportunities in our teams for non-managers, but mature employees, to lead. Anyone can lead projects and have responsibility. Each of us is part of the whole, so everyone should be able to steer Syde in the right direction.

It is important to me that humans are treated fairly. I believe that most humans are trying to do the right thing, but unconscious bias leads them astray. I myself try every day to perceive and avoid my prejudice. I expect the same from my colleagues.

I have a strong bias toward action. Long meetings where we are endlessly debating potential directions are sometimes valuable, but I believe starting is the best way to begin learning and make progress sometimes.

I believe in the tremendous potential of mutual caring and continually fixing small things. I believe quality assurance is everyone’s responsibility and there are tasks or bugs to be fixed everywhere. There are always tasks to do, if not on my desk, then on the list of my colleagues. If you are looking for work, you will find some. Those who have the time should ask their colleagues, whether they can help or take over some duties. There is always something to fix, create, organize.

I start with an assumption of positive intent for all involved. This has worked out well for me over my career.

Alex’s way to Syde

After school, I made a conscious decision against studying. I wanted to get down to work and not get bogged down in theory. The job of web development did not really exist at that time. I got into this out of personal interest. Later, I made my hobby my profession. It’s great to have the opportunity to earn a living from it.

Because I lived in the USA for a long time, I got to know WordPress very early. There, the CMS was already much better known than in Germany. I was excited about the possibilities and also the open-source community. I even went to the second WordCamp, in Dallas in 2008. We weren’t as many people as at today’s WordCamps and Matt was there in person. I remember that we all had dinner together in a small TexMex restaurant. It was actually all about fun and about the possibilities WordPress offers and not about money or business. It was the pioneer era, so to speak. Everyone was enthusiastic and tried out a lot of things. Today, unfortunately, this has changed a little bit. But this is the normal development. When something becomes so successful, then the business aspect simply comes into play. I am therefore all the more pleased when I meet old companions and can gabble about the old times. I’m an old hand, so to speak.

At that time, I already had close contact with Frank Bültge (now CTO at Syde). Together with Michael Preuss, we made the WPEngineer Blog. This was for a long time the most famous WordPress developer blog worldwide. 

Frank Bültge, Michael Preuss, Matt Mullenweg, Alex Frison posing together at a WordPress event
From left: Frank Bültge, Michael Preuss, Matt Mullenweg, Alex Frison

At that time, Frank had already had Syde along with Robert Windisch (now CIO) and Heinz Rohé (now CFO), among others. He always said: If you ever come back to Germany, join us! And so, after I moved back to Germany, I became a project manager at Syde. Back then we had two completely independent divisions: MarketPress, which is now independent of Syde, and the agency for customer projects, which were initially realized by only two developers and myself. In 2012, I finally became a shareholder and since the end of 2018, I have been on the management board. 

What have you learned from working at Syde?

One of my life mottos is: He who does not change does not remain true to himself.

And you’re also forced to change. I started here as an employee and now I am in a management position, leading several teams. This, of course, helps you to develop and there were also some challenges with projects and people. I am not afraid of challenges, because I know that you grow with them. As a chief executive officer, you naturally have a special responsibility. If something goes wrong, it affects not only the employees but also your own existence. 

I’ve learned a lot from my time at Syde. Especially from Heinz because he was a mentor for me from the beginning and still is. And I’m learning more every day. In the position of the chief executive officer, I still have a few things to learn and therefore appreciate it when I get some advice and I gladly accept it.

How did you shape Syde?

I came to Syde with certain values and attitudes. And I am glad that I came into an environment that was already tailored to me. Syde had a different basis than other companies. Just as with WordPress in the early days, the focus was not on business, but on people. That made Syde very sympathetic to me. So, Syde was just right for me and vice versa. This gave me the chance to continue and further develop something that already corresponded to my premises. So I didn’t change anything from scratch, but it would also be wrong to say that I didn’t leave any footprints.

Humanity is especially important to me and that is what I stand up for. Since the foundation of Syde, the aim has been to make people happy, to create cohesion, and to have fun. We have great trust in each other and stand behind the same values. Of course, we also must be economical, but that does not exclude humanity and friendliness. I guess you could say that I have strengthened this way of thinking even more and also brought a little more structure into some things. I like the fact that I can give employees here the opportunity to do a job that is fun. And it is simply exciting to break new horizons and paths with Syde. 

At Syde, we always strive to improve ourselves. That’s our inspiration.

Questions to Syder Alex

We have asked Alex a few personal questions to get to know him better:

Who was your hero as a child?

My father.

What is the TV show you never miss?

Stranger Things and Friends back then.

Which job did you do when you were in school?

I used to clean machines in an industrial firm. During the summer holidays, I worked at an assembly line in the night shift. It was no fun, but it was good money and OK for a few weeks. But then it was also clear to me that I wanted a job that I enjoyed.

What was the last book you read?

Work Rules by Laszlo Bock.

What should be written on your gravestone?

I’m off!

What is the best present you ever got?

My daughter!

Do you have a favorite karaoke song?

What is your favorite movie?

Matrix, Leon the professional, We are Marshall.

Describe your ideal weekend.

Great weather, spending the day relaxing on the beach or in the garden with friends, BBQ and cool beer.

What is on your bucket list?

For once I will visit all my colleagues personally for 1-2 days at home. If they want, of course. 🙂

What kind of fashion style don’t you like at all?

90s, please, not again.

You get stuck in the elevator for many hours and there’s a song playing in a continuous loop, what song would that be?

Something by Ludovico Einaudi.

What was the best advice you ever got?

My father: Make your hobby your profession and you will never work again!

What are you really good at?


Have you ever met a celebrity in person?

Yeah, Chuck Norris. Really! He was a buddy of my old boss.

About what would your friends say “that’s typical you”?

Five minutes late. Last one at the party. Great endurance.

What is the best meal you can cook on your own?

Does BBQ count? Then it would be shashlik.

If someone gave you an envelope with the date of your death, would you open it?

Yeah, I’d like that. I could prepare myself and everyone else and enjoy life to the full until then.

What would be the slogan of your life?

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you make of it!

If the world ended tomorrow, what would you do on your last day?

To meet my family and party hard!

Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man?


By the way: The Syde Team is 100% remote

This enables us to bring together the best minds in the world in one team. You want to learn more about our way of working and the Syders? Take a look inside Syde!