Reflecting on post-Microsoft

I quit Microsoft in October 2010, after about 5 years there. Past year has been a great ride. I had always liked startup environments – high energy, ambiguities, wide spectrum of opportunities. And ComputeNext is no exception. From prototype, we moved to Private Beta last Dec, and are about to launch our Public Beta soon.  This would be a good time to reflect on post-Microsoft.

Things I love:

1) Innovation

I am at the hotbed of Cloud innovation I deal with all things Cloud, and learn about all cloud platforms. I am also doing a lot of  JS/jQuery/ front end which I am totally new to. My learning has been exponential and I am loving it.

2) Pace

This is a no brainer for anyone who knows about startups. It’s not only the pace of what we do, it’s also how we do and how much it energizes me. I have been having consistently long hours, and less sleep. But I do get to work after 4 hours of sleep and I am not at all zombied. Someone nicely said – if you love your work, you are not working!

3) Breadth/ Depth of Opportunities

This is the good side of #1 that I missed. We all play all kind of roles – dev/ test/ PM. Exposure to business side and customer had been great (used to be nil at MS). Not to mention patenting, representing team, infrastructure etc. I see myself focusing more on dev for the next few months, but definitely the breadth had been awesome.

Going deep has also been great – design, coding (front end, cloud platforms, core IP) – not a single day went by where I didn’t learn something new.

Things I miss:

1) Resources and Infrastructure

For anyone that knows about startups, this should be a no brainer. Having said that, it is always difficult when one is in that situation. One of the very first things we did when we got our office space was to paint our walls:) I have been very frugal and always put in the cost factor while procuring resources. At Microsoft, all I had to do was to put in a request! I had an ergonomic desk, dual monitors on adjustable arms, whole bunch of work stations and it was ‘normal’. Though we tend to spend now and then on things like team lunches (more than at MS), I do definitely miss the nearly infinite source of resource/ infrastructure

2) Meticulous planning

While planning is good, at MS, we used to plan so much that we had separate milestone for planning! We don’t have the luxury of planning for months, since our release cycle itself doesn’t span that long. We are agile here, and I miss long planning cycles in a sarcastic way

3) Processes

Here, we spend more time coding and acting than documenting and setting up processes. Though we are taking some time now to setup/ organize our processes, dev/ test processes at MS were top-notch. At no point during a ship cycle I had any confusion of what to be done or how to be done. In some ways, it kind of robotizes engineers, but mostly it was very helpful. Setting up/ documenting our processes would be one of the first things we do post -beta launch.

Summary:

For all those that want to jump in to the startup world – take the plunge!

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