New Adventures: Why I’m Leaving Microsoft and What’s Next

September 14th, 2011

Six years ago, fresh out of college, I packed up my life into a couple of moving boxes and headed out to the Pacific Northwest to take a job at Microsoft.  Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to work on some amazing projects – a large scale performance validation infrastructure for Windows 7, a world-class browser, and have helped shape the future of the web by collaborating in the W3C webperf working group.  It’s been a great place to work – I’ve made some amazing friends, learned more than I ever would have imagined, and have been often humbled by how amazing my coworkers are.

This Friday will be my last day at Microsoft.  It was a tough decision to leave, and there are many things I will miss about the company, my work, and my coworkers.  Microsoft is a great company, the benefits are amazing, and you get to work with a ton of awesome people.  I’ve grown in so many ways by just being able to interact with and learn from my coworkers.  I’ll miss those interactions.

On the other hand, for the past fifteen years, I have been building software, websites, and now mobile apps in my spare time.  I’ve always used these side projects to satisfy a need to be creative, to learn and explore new technologies, and to have fun.  Some of these projects have grown beyond what I would have ever expected them to be.  It’s been tough finding time to work on them – after a long day of mind-bending work, staring at a monitor for another couple hours isn’t always at the top of my list of things to do.  But I get a lot of pleasure out of being creative, so I’ll often stay up late working on this or that.

And so, I’ve always wondered what I could accomplish if those projects were my only job?

Starting Monday, I am taking the big, scary step of becoming my own boss.  I’m still not 100% sure what that means, and I’ll let you know a year from now how it has worked out.  I’m excited to build, to be creative, to learn, and to share.  It’s time for me to get serious about some of the projects I’ve already put hundreds of hours into and to take them to the next level.

In addition to those projects, one of my passions is performance, on both the desktop and the web.  My focus at Microsoft was on perf features and analysis, where I developed a massive performance regression testing system for Windows 7.  I built performance features for Internet Explorer 9, and collaborated in the W3C webperf working group.  I hope to continue learning, exploring and even teaching others about performance in the future, through research and experimentation with my own projects.

There are a ton of things I want to accomplish, and I know I’ll have to work hard to provide for my family.  It’s not easy walking away from a comfy salary and great benefits, with the knowledge that you have to make up for all of it on your own.  Thankfully I have a head start with some successful websites and apps, but I know I’m going to have to put a lot of hard work into taking them to the next level.

Wish me luck.

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  1. September 14th, 2011 at 13:57 | #1

    Hello Nic, what an amazing story.
    I also decided to be my own boss sometime ago by developing my own software..
    I can tell you will be working more hours now.. lol.. is true.. but your dreams will become a reality.

    I wish you the best, and obviously you will accomplish what you are planing to do!!!!


  2. Johnny K
    September 14th, 2011 at 14:57 | #2

    Best of luck, Nic. Will this mean that you and Erica will be returning to Michigan?

  3. tonyg
    September 14th, 2011 at 23:39 | #3

    Best of luck! It had been great working with you in the webperf group. You’ll be missed.

  4. September 15th, 2011 at 10:18 | #4

    I applaud your move towards independence. Congrats! Great Success!

  5. September 15th, 2011 at 11:57 | #5

    Nic, congratulations! We should chat sometime about starting your own business. It’s scary at first, but WAY more rewarding than most other types of work you can do… Hope to see you in the mitten state soon.

    BTW, since you do your own thing now, I have some website-based programming and development I could hire you to do if you wanted. I pay horribly and am extremely demanding.

  6. Karen A
    September 16th, 2011 at 15:08 | #6

    It is great to see your friends follow their dreams and to do something bold that many of us never have the courage to do ourselves. I will miss you as a colleague and wish you the very best.

  7. Amanda Paszek
    September 19th, 2011 at 09:25 | #7

    So exciting!

  8. September 19th, 2011 at 09:33 | #8

    Thanks all! Yes, this will give my wife Erica and I the opportunity to move back to Michigan, so we can be closer to family. It may take a while for us to find work for her there, but we’re hoping to move back within the year.

  9. Pavel B
    December 17th, 2011 at 10:27 | #9

    Good luck Nic! I am sure that you will go far with this exciting new venture!

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