Leaving Microsoft

I never thought I would be writing a blog post like this. Well, maybe there were a few times but honestly there was no future I could imagine in which I wasn’t working here at Microsoft. I am passionate about this place.

But here I am, nearly 15 years after I joined this company, I’m saying goodbye. The last few weeks for me have been a time of reflection and fond memories. I will miss this place.

I joined Microsoft in February 2000. I moved here from Southern California where I had been working as an engineer a dot-com e-commerce start-up. It was hard for me to move here to Seattle. I was quite happy living in SoCal. The weather is perfect. I had a 180° view of the Pacific ocean from my house. But I decided to give it a try and traded my perfect 180° ocean view for a 360° view of trees. Upon arriving here the first thing I noticed was I felt claustrophobic. In some areas the trees are so dense that you can’t see more than 30 feet in any direction and the trees grow nearly 100 feet in the air so you can’t see the sky either. Kind of tough for a guy that grew up in the deserts of Arizona where you can see for 60 miles or more.

Over the years I worked on many teams and built some great things. In the early 2000’s I worked on our first generation Pocket PC and Smartphone devices and worked with our Tablet PC platform too. Later I made the transition to marketing and learned all about what its like marketing to developers. It’s not easy. Developers can be fickle. I should know.

Learning marketing at this company was an amazing experience and I had a lot of fun too. After the Slammer worm I worked on a team to help teach developers build more secure applications. I also worked on launching Vista and Office to developers in the US. The Office launch was a huge success. Vista, was, well, a little slower on the uptake.

Later I moved to our Bing division and worked on Virtual Earth and helped developers build applications that leveraged our mapping services. Mapping is pure geeky goodness. That team probably has more PhD’s on it than any other short of MSR. Did you know that Microsoft makes its own aerial camera for mapping? It’s called the UltraCam and it is amazing.

The area I worked in the longest was in our Web Platform team and it was where I was happiest. This team was responsible for IIS, ASP.NET and Silverlight. During my time on this team I launched our Web Platform Installer and a little tool called WebMatrix. I helped to build a gallery of open source web applications and I led an effort to reach out to the PHP community and other open source web developers about the work we were doing to be more open and make Windows a great platform to build and run web applications.

It was in the area of open source development where I had a great deal of passion. Despite having worked at Microsoft for so many years I was a huge advocate for open source here internally at Microsoft and got a front row seat watching how things evolved over the years and I played a part in helping to drive that evolution. I also was at the fore to reach out to the PHP community as well as the WordPress, Drupal and Joomla communities. Over the years I made a lot of very dear friends in those communities. The open source world is full of brilliant, passionate and pragmatic people. I’m proud to have worked with so many of them and call them my friends.

After a few years working on our Web Platform my team was absorbed into a newly formed Azure team. I was excited I got to remain focused on our web platform technologies, albeit focused on our cloud platform. Azure has been an amazing place to work. Who would have guessed years ago that Microsoft would be offering Linux alongside Windows as part of our cloud offering. Frankly, how could we not? But when you can choose any platform, any tool, any language, any framework and it all runs on our cloud, it makes the job of marketing our web platform much easier. Want to run that web app with a Varnish front end on Ubuntu? Go for it. It is simply awesome to be a part of this group. They also release at an insane pace. One of the biggest changes I’ve seen in my time on this team is how marketing has had to evolve just to keep up with engineering. I love it.

It was also my time here in Azure that I got to work with a very special group of people, our Azure and Integration MVPs as their Community Manager. They are a passionate group of talented technologist who dedicate their time to share their knowledge of the Azure platform to the community of developers around the world. They are an amazing group and I look forward to remaining close to this community in this next chapter in my career.

As to what’s next, well I’m staying close to Azure and to Microsoft. I’ll be joining a company called Solliance and working with many of the very same MVP’s I have come to love and respect. I will taking the knowledge and skills I have acquired and built over the years in engineering and marketing and putting those to good use designing and delivering solutions on Azure and overall making happy customers.

Looking back and into the future I find myself both sad and excited. I’ve made some great friends over the years at Microsoft. Many of them I consider like family and I will be sad I will not get the chance to see them every day. I’m also very proud of this company. In just a very short time I have been amazed at how we have changed and I am a huge fan of our CEO, Satya Nadella and Scott Guthrie who runs our Cloud and Enterprise business as they have been instrumental in our shift. This company is in great hands and I am excited that I will be working closely with both the technology and community that is built around it.

I will be staying in Seattle in my new role. I still miss the panoramic ocean views I had in SoCal, but my ties are here now and I’m finally getting used to all the trees. It really is a beautiful place to live. I’m still a solar powered guy and need my sun, but nothing that a short plane ride South can’t help with and in my new role I’ll have the flexibility to work where I want.

 

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17 thoughts on “Leaving Microsoft

  1. Dear Mark, thanks for everything and a best of luck in the new company! Hope to work on something with you again. I’m so glad that you’ve returned to the “tech side” again – we really need someone like you! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Tom

  2. Mark,

    As i said in the email yesterday, you is a person that looks like a person-who-knows-everyone-and-everything. I will really miss you in Microsoft.
    Still, i remember that evening at MVP Summit last year, when you said that you would want to taste some Russian traditional drinks 🙂 You know my contacts, and please if you will have a chance to go to Moscow, shoot me email – i will show you some nice places.

    Good luck and take care!

  3. Here’s wishing you the very best in your new role. Thank you for being such an awesome Azure Community Manager. You will be missed.

  4. Hey Mark,
    It’s has been an amazing experience working with you. You were always willing to help anyone that came along, even me. I really appreciate that. Good luck in your new role, and don’t be a stranger.

  5. Sorry to see you leave the mother ship, but wish you every success in the future with the Solliance guys; they’re a great bunch

  6. I wish you all the best in your new challenges Mark. It was a pleasure working with you. Count on the MVP Program to continue to engage with the great Azure/Integration community! We’re waiting for you 😉

  7. Congrats on your move Mark! Richard Branson once said that “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone”, and you are doing the right thing to go challenge yourself with something new. I left recently too, and i have never been happier. Microsoft was a great place for many of us to “grow up”, but there is a while exciting world out there that can benefit from everything we learned at MS. I always enjoyed working with you, and having you on my team. You are a credit to the company, and you will be missed there….. Stay in touch!

  8. Hey Mark, I sincerely wish you the best. You will be sorely missed by many, but it’s great to see you follow your passions and have the guts to make the call!
    -mike

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