Prior to joining Microsoft in July of 2010, I had done 3 tours of duty for other Silicon Valley companies. I first came down during the dotcom gold rush working for @Home Networks, which later became Excite@Home. I then moved to eBay which was still seeing massive growth. We expanded globally and acquired several companies such as PayPal. I then spent a short period of time at Yahoo! I worked within the Yahoo Sports team where I was responsible for launching the first global platform for the sports team to support the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Deploying and supporting a platform that operates globally across borders and languages was a real challenge, but it was time for a change.
I found myself at a point in my life where I felt that I needed a bigger challenge. Over the past 12 years, I had been working with companies that had scaling challenges in order to meet the demand of their respective businesses.
I talked to a variety of dotcoms. The smaller companies that I talked to seemed to want me to perform a job that I had done previously. The larger companies seemed to have either an established infrastructures and were no longer seeing large amounts of growth or didn’t have roles where I felt that I would be able to influence the organization.
Along came Microsoft. Having been a Unix person for the majority of my life and a regular Slashdot reader, I never thought much of Microsoft. Being at Yahoo at the time, I knew that they were in process of forming a partnership with their Bing product. I then did some more reading.
Originally, I thought of Microsoft as the company that made Windows and Office with some online services. I was wrong. Bing was gaining market share at the expense of its competitors. Their legacy Windows Phone was getting ready to be replaced. Xbox 360 had become the most popular online console. Hotmail was by far the largest mail service in the world.
So I thought to myself that Microsoft was going to fit into my large company profile of having no growth and/or having no ability to influence. I was wrong again. Not only was Microsoft’s online services growing, they had challenges that few companies had to solve.
When I went through the interview process, I had the question that started all of this on my mind: Why Microsoft? I quickly got the answer. Each person I talked to were passionate about what they did, they also had some fear about not knowing necessarily what to do next. What captured my interest was that they listened. The people I talked to were interested in hearing what I had to say and how I would tackle some of the problems that they had.
At the time I joined, Bing was preparing to power Yahoo Search. Doing a cut over of traffic from Yahoo to Bing without impacting the end user is not a simple problem to solve. I quickly saw that the challenges were just starting. Azure was starting to ramp up and Windows Mobile 7 was getting ready to launch. On deck was how to support Office 365.
I have now been with Microsoft for over a year now. I have both the opportunity to learn and teach others what I know. I am able to influence the organization to help shape Microsoft as we continue to launch more large scale online services.
So “Why Microsoft?” It’s fun, it’s challenging, I get to work with smart people who are willing to engage and partner with me to continually improve our online services.
David Low is a Principal Service Engineer – also known as the Technical Duty Officer for the Microsoft Operations Center. Please click here for a comprehensive list of open jobs with Global Foundation Services (GFS).