20 Years – and no more. KenMo is not @Microsoft.

I’ve decided to leave Microsoft.

It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make because I have worked at Microsoft for 20 years — and I love the company.

For those of you who care, this hasn’t been too hard to predict over the past 9 months — as I stepped out of my 5-year stint starting up and leading the technology for Live Search (a.k.a. MSN Search) as noted when I took a sabbatical and as I came back from my leave.  Many people have helped advise me through this period — and I think that it’s obvious to every one of them that it’s the right move for me.  I was one of the last to come to the conlusion that leaving the free pop behind is the right thing for me.

Why is it the right move for me?  Is it because Microsoft is a lame, bloated, has-been company?  Is it because I lost faith in Microsoft’s role in the future of software?  No, no and most certainly not.  Microsoft is one of the best companies in the world.  I have huge admiration for my many many friends who work there, and I know that there are great things in Microsoft’s future.  Microsoft is far from perfect — but so is everything else I’ve ever looked at in life — and I’ve never seen another company do as much good in the world as Microsoft.

It’s just that for me, personally, the next challenge I am craving happenned to be elsewhere — in part BECAUSE I have spent 20 straight years there…  In part because I have NEVER worked anywhere else…  The right next step for me is to try the one thing that Microsoft couldn’t offer me — starting a company from scratch.  That’s what I’m talking about… (you can’t see the smile break out on my face, and the butterflies start soaring around my stomach as I write that…)

But — it’s not easy for me.  I have invested a lot of personal brain cycles and heart in trying to make Microsoft be the best it can be — through the easy times, and through the tough times.  I have been to every company meeting since 1988.  I have been to 18 of the last 20 company picnics in the shadow of Mt. Si.  My kids have grown up trick-or-treating in the halls of buildings 6, 10, 16, RED-West and 88…  I have a Microsoft logo tattooed on my butt…  I have been thrown in virtually every water feature on campus by my friends and teammates…  (one of the above isn’t actually true…)

If there’s interest — I’ll be sharing more of my thoughts as I go through this transition.  But, for now, please know that despite all of the flatteringly great arguments that Microsoft’s top management made to me to try to convince me to stay for a little longer — this is indeed the right path for me.

The path ahead is uncertain — but I am sure it’s right for me to try it.  I can’t wait!

And — who knows — maybe I’ll end up back at Microsoft some day.  And, I for one, will NOT consider that a failure.

That’s it for now…

-Ken

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Comments

  1. Karen B - your cousin says:

    Wow. The fact that you work at Microsoft is like the one party fact I’ve always known about you. Must be scary as hell to leave what you’ve always known. Lots of good luck to you.

  2. Thanks Karen — I hope to be able to add some even better party facts in time 🙂 I appreciate the wish of good luck!

  3. Best of luck Ken. Buying your own pop and paying for parking has some upsides. I hope you enjoy the ride.

  4. Thanks Josh! I’ll think of you when I’m buying my first case of Diet Dr. Pepper 🙂

  5. Ken Glass says:

    “If there’s interest — I’ll be sharing more of my thoughts as I go through this transition.”

    YES…interest.

    LAM is indeed wonderful..no matter how great it was there! This is based on 8 years 😉

  6. You got it Ken G… I register your interest and will share more…

    Your vote of confidence for “Life After M” is helpful — you scared away those pesky butterflies for at least a few minutes — thanks 🙂

  7. Ken, speaking from someone who’s known you since college and a person who’s stayed – for better and worse – in the entrepreneurial space all my life, you’ve got what it takes — and a network of loyal and talented friends who would love to give back what you’ve given them over the years.

    Best of luck in all that you set your mind to.

  8. Thanks Adam — that means a lot to me!

  9. Robert L. Pirtle says:

    Ken, you know that Jennifer and I are your top two admirers after your own parents. To have witnessed your amazing achievements through the years, including your marrying our daughter and your tireless efforts at rearing three equally astounding children has been one of life’s highest rewards for us. Let’s work some more NY Times Sunday Edition crossword puzzles! I must add though, that it frosts me that you can type about 50 words per minute faster than I can; well, I’ll take solace in the fact that only one of us can ride a unicycle!

  10. So, you’ve been to only 17 picnics? Good luck Ken!

  11. Ken,

    Very courageous of you. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

    I just left a teaching job of 7 years to start my own studio. Scary times to be doing it, from the POV of the economy, but the opportunity to get a great space for CHEAP came up, and I took it.

    Here’s to exciting times ahead!

    Elise

  12. Hey…was that you and your kid and dog around Starbucks last week? Didn’t want to interrupt if it was…..

  13. Ken, congratulations and good luck on your future endeavors. It was great to work with you in MSN Search, and I can remember no more exhilirating feeling than shipping 1.0 with you. May your future path be lined with amazing water features, and may the laser tattoo removal be painless and effective 🙂

    All the best,
    –andrew

  14. Thanks Andrew! I also greatly enjoyed getting to work with you on such a life-changing project as creating Live Search from scratch. I hope you’re doing well — please keep in touch!

    – Ken

    p.s. thx for the laser tattoo referral — I’ll look into that 🙂

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  1. […] Searching for Answers Random thoughts from Ken Moss « 20 Years – and no more. KenMo is not @Microsoft. […]

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