All good things…

After more than 23 years at Microsoft, I’ve decided it’s time for me to take a break. Starting March 12th 2018, I’ll be taking a leave of absence for a year. Deciding to do this has been one of the most gut-wrenching decisions of my life. As someone who has largely defined myself by the work I’ve done, it’s incredibly hard to imagine life without going to work and working 10 hours every day. But, after a few years of debate with my wife, we’ve decided that it’s time to take a break and dedicate more time to home and family for a while.

I have no fear of having nothing to do. I have learned over the past 10 years that a farm is an endless source of work. I have a farm backlog so long I’m not sure I will be able to finish half of it in a year (and yes, I use VSTS to manage it). It feels like an infinitely long list. While farming will likely be the lion’s share of my time investment while I’m away, I’m planning a bunch of other things too. We’re going to do some traveling that we’ve never gotten around to. I’m looking forward to that. There are also some “hobbies” that I’d like to spend some more time on. I haven’t had much time in a while for woodworking and I’m looking forward to getting some more time for that – particularly lathe work. I’ve also, recently, picked up baking (the Great British Baking Show was the clincher for me) and I’ve really been enjoying it. As usual, I suspect my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I’ll never get to everything I imagine I’d like to do, but I can dream, right?

Taking a year off, of course, means that I will no longer be leading the TFS/VSTS team. That’s a very hard decision for me to make. I started the team about 15 years ago and have grown it from 2 people working in a “spare room” to almost 800 people spread across the globe. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve built and very fond of the team I’ve had the privilege to work with. Stepping away from both is a big decision. It’s reassuring to me that we’ve built a very strong and talented team. I know the product is in good hands and it will keep getting better.

Nat Friedman (of Xamarin fame) will be assuming the leadership role for TFS/VSTS. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Nat over the past couple of years (since the Xamarin acquisition) and I’ve always been incredibly impressed with him. I really admire the principled way that he works and the great culture that he builds. He’s a very clear thinker and an excellent communicator. He understands development and developers deeply. I’m confident that Nat is going to do an excellent job leading the team and continuing to advance the product. Please join me in welcoming Nat.

My 23 years at Microsoft have been some of the best of my life. I simply can’t express enough how grateful I am for the opportunities I’ve been given. I know there are those who don’t always think incredibly fondly of Microsoft. Although I can’t say that I agree with everything we’ve ever done, I can say, I have worked with a tremendous number of people across Microsoft and they are terrific people who want nothing more than to create great products and make customers happy. I wish everyone could see Microsoft the way I see it. I am proud to have been a small part of what we have become. It is a great place to work and a great place to do good work. I think things have gotten even better in the past few years with some of the cultural and strategic changes that Satya has brought. I’m looking forward to coming back to Microsoft and finding a new challenge in a year.

My expectation is that I’ll be fully stepping away for a year – meaning, among other things, that I will discontinue posting to this blog. I have really enjoyed sharing my thoughts over the years and engaging in vigorous debate. Through my blog, I have attempted to put a humble and understanding face on Microsoft. I’ve tried to provide my perspective on some of the things we do and why I think they make sense, while acknowledging when they don’t. I’ve also tried to be an available ear for problems and to help get them routed to someone at Microsoft who can resolve them – no matter how big or small. There are countless good leaders at Microsoft who will, no doubt, continue to do that.

There’s no good time to leave a team and a product you love. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I have to say that I’m incredibly excited about the future of TFS and VSTS. We’ve made a lot of progress over the last year or two and the next year is going to be one of the most exciting yet. We’ve been hard at work on some really cool investments  that I think are going to significantly improve the experience. It’s disappointing to not be able to see those changes through to the end but I know Nat and the team will do a great job carrying forward. I encourage you to keep and eye out for great news in the coming months. The best way to continue to track the latest and greatest on TFS and VSTS is the DevOps blog.

For those of you who have been with me on this journey, thank you. I’ve enjoyed it and I hope you have too. Good luck over the next year and I hope our paths cross again. I think I will create a personal blog somewhere to, at least, continue to share thoughts and stories on farming and whatever else crosses my mind. Once I get that sorted out, I’ll post a link to it on this blog.

Thank you very much,

Brian