After six years at Microsoft, I’ve decided that it is time to move on with my career and my life. I’ll be taking a role at a software startup that appeals to both my passion for the user revolution on the internet and my desire for a smaller, more personal atmosphere that is found in a 40-person company that is almost entirely housed on one office floor in a San Francisco skyscraper. As is customary at Microsoft, I wrote the typical farewell e-mail that I'll send to my past managers, peers, colleagues, and direct reports. Most of that text is here. But a blog gives me a little more latitude to be verbose (or at least anyone who has read this blog know my tendencies) and I will take advantage of that.
As with most people, my decision to leave is bittersweet. I love telling people how I had no intention of staying at Microsoft for longer than three years, but the combination of compelling work and a great people led me to double my expected tenure. This was my first job after business school and Microsoft saved me from a life in management consulting, spending my time composing diagrams, matrices, and graphs but never really building anything. I worked on some great teams on exciting initiatives and it was rarely boring. However, my desire has always been to help grow and lead a startup company and this move brings my career back towards that goal.
With a software company like Microsoft, it’s intrinsic value doesn’t lie in manufacturing plants or raw materials, but rather in talented employees who dedicate their lives to build great software with a quest to change the world. Similarly, my experience was less about the tangibles and more about the people that I had the great fortune to interact with during these six years. To identify everyone who impacted me would lead me to a Oscar-style speech where I run long and still miss important people (I envision Hillary Swank forgetting her husband in 2000). I’ll just say thanks to everyone that stuck me in front of the fire hose, pushed me to prove myself, challenged me intellectually, supported me on my quests (as far-fetched as some of them were), and taught me the “Microsoft Way”. I leave here wiser and more battle-tested than when I came in. I only hope I provided half as much in return—and that goes for managers, peers, and the teams I managed.
I always wondered what my legacy would be when I left Microsoft. After all, I was one of 70-80,000 employees here and it's easy to get lost in the crowd. That said, looking back at the list of accomplishments brings a smile to my face. I take pride in what came out of the patterns & practices team and the tremendous adulation from customers that came with it. I am amazed at the runaway success of the patterns & practices Summits that Keith Pleas and I conceived of three years ago. I love showing the scars of how Betsy Aoki and I (more her than me) saved GotDotNet. I brag about the lengths that Jim Newkirk and I went through to get CodePlex through the system and out the door. And I am heartened by the ambition my team tried to show with Tagspace and Claimspace, two projects that I believe were revolutionary in many ways but never found a happy home. If there's one thing that seems consistent, it's that I worked on projects that were unconventional, somewhat counter-culture, and a little risky. I suppose my need for ambition and risk lends itself to a startup atmosphere, which helped make my choice that much easier. Now, we'll find out if I can pass the test without the great support system that I've grown to rely upon in the last six years. If I can find the right partners in crime like the ones above, I trust I'll be just fine.
I don't know where my next blog will be. I should still have access for one final post for subscribers to redirect. I haven't provided details on the company because I'd like to keep it somewhat quiet until it has been officially announced (in case you were wondering). This much is certain: I like the people. I like the job. I like the opportunity. It looks like the rest is up to me.
It's probably either corny or cliche to end with a song quote, but what do I care--I'm out of here. So, I will bid adieu to the words of Green Day...
So take the photographs and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf of good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it's worth, it was worth all the while
It's something unpredictable but in the end is right
I hope you had the time of your life