After 5 great years at Microsoft I am moving on. Yesterday, the creation of the CodePlex Foundation was announced, as well as my departure from Microsoft. I'll be joining a cloud computing startup later this month in Silicon Valley.
It was a hard decision, as the time I've spent at the company has been both challenging and rewarding. I remember a sense of disbelief when I first interviewed for the Open Source Technology Strategy role in December 2005 and Bill Hilf told me that one of the core responsibilities of the job would be a quarterly briefing with Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie on open source technology trends. On the other hand, he said it would involve external public speaking - primarily to fairly polarized audiences. That was a doubly scary proposition as I was not a public speaker and I knew the audiences quite well, since I'd competed with Microsoft for many years in prior companies and used Slashdot as my homepage.
I was certain that open source was an industry wave that Microsoft would not be able to ignore, and that it was getting closer to an inflection point. I had spent over a year at the company in the Silicon Valley-based venture capital team under Dan'l Lewin and Cliff Reeves, and I could see that the company's approach to disruptive market dynamics was starting to change. No matter what happened, I was sure that being at the center of the open source team at Microsoft during the coming years would be fascinating and important.
46 months later, I am amazed at the changes that have occurred for the company, for the team I belonged to, and the sentiments of the industry. There is much work left to be done but the distance we traveled was remarkable. I have a feeling that I'll be reflecting on this period for the next several months, so I won't try to cover it all here. Matt Asay wrote a very generous article with a brief reflection of the changes which is here. I've learned an enormous amount thanks to the intelligent, energetic, and fearless people that worked for me, the bold and honest open source community leaders who engaged with me, and the Microsoft executives who supported me.
I have heard some strange speculation on why I'm leaving and the answer is simple - for personal reasons, my wife and I have decided to move our family back to California. I had many discussions with executives at Microsoft about how to continue my work from here, and received a warm reception along with a range of opportunities. Ultimately I decided that I could not do justice to a corporate/worldwide position from afar, and that I could not bear to live away from my family and commute to Seattle five days a week.
So the change is made, and it has been very challenging. But it's now complete and I am excited to launch the CodePlex Foundation and join my new startup. As a close friend told me this week, "The best is yet to come" and I do believe that. To everyone who has helped bring me this far, I say thank you; I am very grateful.