June 14, 2005 spout

The End of an Era

Today is Sara Williams’s last day. Sara was the first Microsoft employee that I met. In fact, she was the first MS employee that a lot of people met. She’s been at Microsoft for 14 years, which was long before it was cool for employees to talk to the outside world. She was a key part of MSs Developer Relations Group, whose job it was to do the outside world stuff while the rest of MS stayed inside and slid flat food under the door to each other.

Eventually, like others, Sara grew tired of Microsoft’s insular-ism and specifically our developer network’s unwillingness to embrace the community, so she launched GotDotNet which, inevitably, lead to her taking over MSDN altogether, which she developed Developer Centers and pushed a whole new way for Microsoft to embrace 3rd parties.

However, by far her most benevolent act was to hire me, a guy that refused to buckle to the pressure to move to Redmond and then she let me run roughshod over my colleagues putting up the Longhorn DevCenter and re-launching the Smart Client DevCenter. This set the stage for me proving myself in a remote-hostile environment and allowed me to eventually get myself onto an honest to gosh product team. It was all her.

Her departure from MSDN will leave an indelible mark on that organization and I can’t say that it didn’t play a factor my own decision to leave. Her departure from Microsoft is unbelievably sad. In many ways, Sara is Microsoft to me. She embodies each employee’s personal responsibility to our customers. She’s certainly not alone in her thinking at Microsoft, but that makes me no less sad to see her go.

Thanks very much, Sara. You made quite an impact on me. I wish you all the best and my undying adoration.