My farewell to Microsoft

Leaving Microsoft was a tough decision but it was time for a change for me after my final attempt to get traction on my new product idea I had been pitching internally was unsuccessful.  I had spent a good portion of the year leading up to this decision considering what would be the right next big thing for me.  Perhaps it was a mistake pitching one of my best ideas internally instead of starting my own company to launch it but I am still resolved that it would have been a far stronger offering done internally with Microsoft’s search, advertising and desktop and mobile OS assets (all part of the product vision) than as a standalone company.  Time will tell if the competition I predicted from Google and Apple in this nascent space will materialize.  That said, it was a great learning experience and I suspect that I’ll flex those new product pitch muscles again more than once in the future.

After sitting on this for a while, I decided it would be okay to post a mildly edited (mainly for privacy and confidentiality) version of my farewell email to my Microsoft colleagues.  To those colleagues of mine who left Microsoft before me and asked to see the email after my Facebook and Twitter updates, this is for you:

From: Shannon Vosseller
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 8:11 PM
To:
(redacted)
Subject: Farewell

Friends and Colleagues,

For almost 9 of my 10 1/2 years here at Microsoft I have been in the TV technology space and during that time I have worked in a number of orgs in the company shipping a wide range of releases spanning client, applications and services.  During that time I also learned a great deal and grew from an entry level PM who was a Mac guy to a Principal level GPM who watches TV with Windows Media Center on my Xbox.  It has been an incredible ride but it’s time for me to expand my horizons and move to a new position outside of Microsoft. I am excited about my next opportunity but I am also saddened by the prospect of leaving Mediaroom and Microsoft where I have so many fond memories.

When I sat down to write this mail I started by listing all of the people who I wanted to thank for playing a role, no matter how small, in making my 10 1/2 years at Microsoft always engaging and rewarding.  That list grew to be far far too long and I soon realized I would be writing through the night with no end in sight.  Most of you probably know who you are though I’m sure there are many who never realized the gratitude I have for those short conversations in the kitchen, one of the late night preparations for a big customer demo, that breakthrough moment showing me something that just started working in your office, a great dinner or just the pleasantries exchanged in the hallway.

I savor the shared victories here over the years including:

  • Learning how to execute the end game of a release from Dick Craddock, John Tafoya, Marianne Guntow and the team on Mac IE 5.  Boxes of espresso brownies were critical and it was a rush watching the download numbers and reviews come in after RTM.  Many of my closest friends at Microsoft came from way back here and they continue to rock today.  Special thanks to Omar for hooking me up with this great opportunity.
  • Getting the green light to staff up a team at SVC building the data services behind Windows Media Center and shipping MCE 1.0.
  • Shipping the Foundation 1.7 release to Comcast subscribers, not to be stopped by never having enough Motorola DVR boxes, sparks and smoke coming out of a power supply minutes before a Comcast exec demo, a 72 hour spec-writing marathon one winter weekend, or the death march it took to hit June 30th with 90% confidence.
  • Shipping the IPTV 1.1 release, and DVR in particular, (redacted), the late night food runs for Thai food, beer and popsicles and communing with Peter Barrett over whiskey on many evenings in a dark office lit only by the LCD displays and LEDs on the STBs.
  • Shipping the IPTV 1.6 release and whole home DVR.  (redacted) while finding a way to ship an elegant whole home DVR solution which is unmatched even today.
  • Laying the groundwork for our Mediaroom 2.0 Server release.  It is exciting to see our 2.0 vision start to get realized with an updated STB experience and Windows Phone 7, Media Center and browser clients leveraging the 2.0 server work. It is going to be a hit!
  • Getting invited to pitch my new product idea, Project (redacted), to J Allard and (redacted).
  • The opportunity to build and manage great teams.  All the new hires, promotions and coaching through thick and thin over the years was a pleasure.  Given that people are our biggest asset in a software company, I was privileged to have such great assets to work with.  I appreciate all of your hard work and dedication.

That being said, the most important victory is all of the friendships, support and growth I gained over the years.  Whether it was encouragement during a rough time, a game of bocce, a cigar, the privilege of sharing a wedding day, rocking out on stage with the band, home baked cookies or the thrill of racing around the French Alps and Autobahn, the friendships span multiple continents and I look forward to them lasting beyond my days at Microsoft.  Thank you for all you have done to make my Microsoft experience wonderful.  I will miss working with you.

My last day is this Friday but I’ll still be living in SF and working in our small valley (redacted).

Until next time,

-shan

Here are two photos from my last day…

View of me reflecting off the window in my office as I leave
View of me reflecting off the window in my office as I leave. Thanks to Nosh for capturing it.
View of the Microsoft sign from my car window as I leave the parking lot
View of the Microsoft sign from my car window as I leave the parking lot

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