The following is a bit of a professional bio of Synfig's lead engineer, but it is a good overview of how Synfig came to be.
Robert Quattlebaum (darco) was Synfig's lead software engineer. He has invested three years of his life and a substantial portion of his net worth into the software and the company he founded, Voria Studios.
Robert has always had a passion for computers and a talent for engineering. While in middle school, Robert taught himself not only how to use them effectively but also how to program them. In high school, Robert purchased the Sony® Net Yaroze hobbyist PlayStation® development kit, and began developing a handful of PlayStation® games, including a multi-player 3D mech battle game called Blaze of Glory.
After he graduated high school he attended the DigiPen Institute of Technology, a video game programming and design school located in Redmond, Washington. During his attendance, he was widely considered to be one of the best engineers of his class by his peers and was widely respected for his ability to engineer strong, clean code.
DigiPen exposed Robert to a multitude of new ideas and experiences, not all of which were directly related to software engineering or video games. Watching and enjoying anime became an enjoyable pastime.
Toward the end of his sophomore year, Robert began to ponder what kind of animation software would be used for the production of anime, and 2D animation in general. When he asked some of his animator friends how such software actually worked, he was surprised to find out how clumsy it was. This got him to thinking about how he would do it differently.
Robert came up with an idea for how he thought such software should work—the ideal solution. After explaining the concepts to his animator friends and a handful of teachers, he concluded that the development of the software might be a worthwhile venture. Having already completed his requirements for his Associates degree, Robert left DigiPen to begin full-time development on what would later become Synfig.
After a year and a half of full-time software development, Robert founded Voria Studios, LLC, an animation studio that would utilize the tools he had created to give it a competitive edge in animation production. The company's first production, Prologue, was demonstrated at AnimeExpo 2004 and ComicCon 2004. Even though Prologue was a fairly primitive animation, the response received was quite positive.
However, burdened with the tasks of software development, business management, marketing, and business networking, Robert was stretched thin. Despite some valiant attempts to get clients, Voria Studios, LLC shut down it's full time operations on December 10th, 2004. Nevertheless, this was not the end of Voria nor Synfig.
Unlike many other companies in similar positions, Robert realized that Voria was unique in that it had a product—the animation software which he had been developing over the past two and a half years. It has really been the company's strongest asset all along.
Robert has few regrets over the past 3 years, and considers it to have been an extensive real-world education which far exceeds what he would have received if he had continued working on his bachelors degree.
Robert ended up licensing Synfig under the GNU GPL and turning it over to the free software community to develop and use.
For information about how the Synfig logo (previously the Voria logo) was created, please read darco's blog entry entitled "Making the Voria Logo".