Goodbye Microsoft, Hello SocialFlow – Betaworks!

Today is my last day at Microsoft.
In two weeks I’m joining SocialFlow, a hot Betaworks startup, as VP R&D. ::bounce::

SocialFlow is working on truly innovative ways to optimize communications through social media. There I’ll be playing with lots and lots of data, working on data analysis, methodology and identifying interesting patterns that emerge from social streams (Twitter, Facebook, bit.ly…). Additionally, I’ll be designing and building tools that optimize interactions with online audiences in these spaces. I’m a big believer in SocialFlow’s potential impact, and am absolutely psyched to be joining the crew. Good to be in a startup again, but thrilled to be part of the Betaworks family. Some of the smartest people in social data analysis sit in that incubation space, providing droolworthy opportunities to learn and collaborate. (I’ll be writing much more about SocialFlow soon enough)

With all the excitement, I have to say, leaving Microsoft is not easy. The past two years have been an incredible adventure. As part of the labs, I’ve had quite a unique experience for a Softie. I got a chance to work with teams across the org. From Microsoft Research to Bing, office, XBOX, Israel Labs, Online Services and even the new Microsoft Retail Stores, I worked closely with so many passionate, smart people in this company. We worked in small agile teams, with many chances to get my hands dirty and contribute code even as a Program Manager.

I had numerous opportunities to take part in industry events. I presented a thorough Twitter research paper at HICSS, and displayed interactive visualization work at both TED Active and the Summit Series. I showed our work at the Twitter #140 conference, and MSR’s TechFest. I worked on an embeddable Twitter visualization kit, FUSE Social Gadgets, and helped design and build the interactive displays at the Microsoft Retail Stores. When I look back at the breadth of projects I contributed to over the past two years, I’m extremely thankful.

I feel like I’ve grown in leaps and bounds when I compare present me to pre-Microsoft me. Much more focused, with an understanding of team dynamics and how to prioritize features to get the product out the door as fast as possible. Learning soft skills of group collaboration, and also managing to play with the politics of the larger org. Sure, the massive machine gets frustrating at times, but the impact and reach of the company’s products makes it all worthwhile.

My biggest frustration was definitely being far away from the mothership. Had I lived in Redmond or Seattle, there’s little chance I would have considered leaving Microsoft. With all of its advanced communication and co-presence technology, it is still extremely challenging to have substantial impact on product at Microsoft when not in Redmond. You’re always calling in or an afterthought when meetings get shuffled around. I’d seriously consider against joining a large corporation again, unless I’m located at the headquarters.

So a new adventure begins. I’ll be moving down to NYC mid March, and have already started looking for apartments in chelsea or the village. d is staying in Boston and will be commuting down to NYC for the weekends. Not ideal, but I’m confident we can do it. The up side is that weekends will have to become “work-less”, which is probably a very, very good thing.

I’m deeply thankful to Microsoft for everything. All the opportunities and the wicked smart friends I was lucky to get to know.

Here’s to old friendships and new beginnings.

::gulp::

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