2007 In Review – The Briefest of catch up posts

My website has become remarkably stale. And honestly I don’t have the time to document all the changes that have gone on in my life since the last time I’ve posted. But I also cannot just ignore this past year and pretend nothing has happened.

So, in classic, boring, corporate style, here is an ordered list of events in my life since my last post (maybe someday I will get to expand on any of these items, but we’ll see):

  1. Worked on Windows Live FolderShare
    Worked on some infrastructure to facilitate refactoring the backend FolderShare code – still waiting to hear an official announcement from my old team regarding a release of FolderShare.
  2. Worked on Windows Live Messenger (my work released in v8.5 and whatever next version turns out to be)
    Worked on the existing Sharing Folders feature, worked on implementing major changes for the next version of Messenger, hopefully this will be released soon. My v8.5 changes were mostly bug fixes.
  3. Resigned from Microsoft
    So this might seem like a shock, but it fell quite cleanly into my five year plan. Yep, I had one when I graduated from college. Having never imagined I would work for Microsoft when I was in college and after getting a lot of flack from my classmates for accepting a job at Microsoft I made up a five year plan in terms of things I wanted to learn from Microsoft before leaving. Aw hell I’m just left-brained like that anyway, I make goals for just about everything (ask me how long my car is supposed to last before I consider it a good “reasonable” purchase).Over the summer I started evaluated where I was against my goals, and I realized I had accomplished everything I had set out to learn from Microsoft. The decision to leave was made doubly difficult since I could not imagine a better team to be a part of anywhere. Written another way, I loved my team. There were so many competent, talented, smart, and experienced people who I could learn from and had learned from. My lead was my advocate, knowledgeable, and fully-focused on unblocking me from my goals.

    The team’s philosophy on quality was completely inline with how I believe software should be engineered, and the process and focus on infrastructure in place is truly enviable, in any commercial environment. An incredibly small example – my team was able to go from 0 to shipping at scale (at Microsoft scale that is – meaning localized, distributed data centers, redundancy, etc) a storage-in-the-sky solution in 3 months.

    However, even though everything at my team in Microsoft was going so well, I realized I was at a critical junction in my young career. Knowing that I would be getting married over Thanksgiving (see point 6 later on) I realized that I may not have another opportunity to dramatically change my career without impacting at least one other person. Not that my fiance was not a part of my decision to resign, but at least I wasn’t asking her to change jobs and/or relocate with me. And I also realized that if I stayed at Microsoft I may never leave. Many people would love to be in that situation, but having never worked in another company full-time I felt it would be remiss to limit my entire professional experience in software to one company. Plus there was an element of me wanting to keep my word with my own personal goals.

    And finally, things don’t happen in a vacuum. A couple recruiters called me, coincidentally, at the same time. I was not overly excited by the kool-aid they were trying to preach (I had been drinking large public-company kool-aid for five years already). Far more importantly my friend Hooman Radfar called me to catch up.

    My last day with Microsoft was my five year anniversary exactly, September 17, 2007. Take that five year plan.

  4. Accepted a position at Clearspring Technologies
    So Hooman started talking to me about what Clearspring has been up to (one could argue that he had been trying to recruit me to join him since when I visited Clearspring in 2004 when it as two guys in one office). Well, as I always told him I had a five year plan at Microsoft. Except this time, my five years was up and the things Hooman was telling me about sounded really exciting. I think the salient quote from that first call, “If you want things to be neat at clean don’t join us, but if you want to bring order to the chaos of a startup then we could use your help”. Or something close to that – at least that is how I remember it, so that is how it happened.Within three weeks I had: spoken with the VP of Engineering, gone to VA to interview, negotiated the offer, and accepted the offer. So the fun of the speed of a startup had begun even from before starting full-time.
  5. Relocated to Washington DC area
    Moved to Arlington VA and found a sublet on craigslist for three months while I was trying to sell my townhouse in Redmond. Realized that there are worse rental markets than Seattle (namely around DC). I also first-hand got to experience why they say moving is one the ten more stressful things in a person’s life. My advice from the situation – live simply until you get married so you don’t have to do something like a cross-country relocation by yourself, or negotiate a personal assistant into your new job’s contract to help with the relocation part.
  6. Started working at Clearspring
    Rapid-dynamic team going through lots of changes – like any startup. I was immediately impressed with the quality of the folks around me, and the changes we were making were highly needed and smart decisions. The ramp up was rough, as it always is, but the fun and satisfaction was immediate. Still is.

  7. Shipped my first product at Clearspring – Launchpad
    Within two months of starting at Clearspring I shipped my first product there. I joined part way into this project and helped guide it to through release. In the interim I had become a lead at Clearspring. I’m trying my best to follow my lead’s example from Microsoft in how I operate at Clearspring, and I guess time will tell how well I am doing.I am incredibly proud of our first release in this space, providing an embeddable HTML/JS menu to facilitate sharing widgets using Clearspring’s platform. There is still lots of work ahead of us, but it is overwhelmingly exciting and I can’t wait to dig in further.

  8. Sold my townhouse in Redmond
    With a great sigh of relief my townhouse in Redmond finally sold. The realization of paying mortgage in WA and rent in VA was starting to creep in and in the knick of time a great offer came in with a very accommodating closing date. I was able to close and settle the sale the week before I left to get married – a giant burden removed from my shoulders.

  9. Traveled to India to get married and enjoyed a brief honeymoon
    Had a very enjoyable wedding and honeymoon over a three week trip to India. I have not gotten or seen many pictures from the trip yet (apparently when you are the groom you don’t get to take or see many pictures) – as soon as I have them they will be published here.A group of close friends came to India to participate in the celebrations along with Shaily, myself, and our families. I am pretty sure they all had a great trip and I certainly loved introducing them to Shaily and sharing my wedding with them.

    Went to an awesome lake resort in Kerala for a short four day honeymoon. It really was a unique experience – nothing like anything I have seen in India, US, Jamaica, or any other tropical place I’ve been to. Really something special. If you are looking for a way to vacation at the end of your vacation, you want to stay in a resort like this one (check out slh.com for the listing of similar small luxury hotels).

    Unfortunately my wife’s visa isn’t ready yet, so I had to return to the US without her. Hopefully she will be joining me soon.

If you’ve made it this far then I think you understand why I have not been able to post more often. 2007 has brought more dramatic changes in my life than any other since I turned eighteen (it is hard to quantify the magnitude of each change before that). This year I tackled three of the ten most stressful life events at the same time, and I triumphed: switching jobs, relocating cities, and getting married.

(If anyone is wondering how come I made time to write this post, it is entirely because I am at the JetBlue free WiFi zone in JFK on a long layover and the wifi connection isn’t strong enough for VPN support – so after catching up on Google Reader this was next on the list.)

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