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Leaving Microsoft

February 3, 2021 • 04:00 PM

When Wunderlist was acquired by Microsoft, I don’t think I had any idea that I’d stay at the company for more than a couple of years. Indeed, I figured I’d serve out the holding period on my unvested shares and then move on. Mostly, I thought it was a fantastic irony that I was working for the company that was once the “Evil Empire.” A company that I helped battle when I was working at Sun Microsystems two decades ago.

Yet, here we are, over 5 and a half years later.

Three of those years were consumed by working in various ways on the integration of Wunderlist into Microsoft. Those weren’t easy years, by any stretch of the imagination. Our team came into Microsoft with a lot of churn at its top levels. That churn continued throughout my time there. Not much worked out the way any of us expected. I learned so much from those years, and I’m still processing the lessons.

For the last two and a half years, I worked as a CTO in Residence (it’s a position sort of like a CTO-as-a-Service) in Microsoft for Startups. That gave me the chance to connect with startups around Europe like Userlane, Ultimate.ai, ProcessGold (now part of UIPath), Uncrowd and Be My Eyes and help with both leadership and technical challenges. One of my proudest moments was helping to connect Wayve.ai with people inside Azure that could solve their massive data challenges.

I also coordinated the Microsoft for Startups presence at the Slush conference in 2018 and 2019. This included producing a set of talks for our booth each year. Two standout presentations from these events are Recruiting a diverse team by Amali de Alwis and Selling with Microsoft by Sam Bowman.

Leaving Microsoft now is bittersweet. The company is full of brilliant people, and I’m going to miss working with many of them. Azure has developed into a fantastic cloud for many uses. And, I love both the company’s commitment to sustainablity, and its focus on helping developers.

My last day at Microsoft will be February 28th.

I’ll take a bit of time off and then will be starting on something new in mid-March. More on that later...