Monday, October 26, 2009

Moving to India - part 2

Microsoft is a great place to work and whether I work here or not, I will still love the company. The kind of energy, freedom and passion is unbelievable. I have a lot of disagreements about how the compoany should be run and believe that it has plenty of brutal challenges ahead of it. Like America, Microsoft came down from being the world beater in 80s & 90s to lose to its once beaten out rivals, due to less than par leadership. But, like America the spirit of freedom and passion of individuals are pretty underestaimated by the rivals and will keep it thriving a lot longer than most people expect.

In 3 years I was a here, I was a part of the three main divisions of Microsoft - Windows division, Live Labs (as a part of research) and Windows Mobile (as a part of Entertainment & Devices). I also spent equal amount of time in development (first 18 months) and test (last 18 months), with remaining spent in multi role in Live Labs. This gave me wide perspective of how things work at Microsoft.

I came to Microsoft with the plan to quit in 2 years to build my startup, but in the end it took 1 year longer than I planned. One reason is that bad economy interevened inbetween and I didnt want to get caught up on the storm. My plan was to wait till the tail stage of the recession, when you can still use the weak job market and poorer health of your competitors to establish your business and develop your product in time for the economic boom, when investors and customers return.

But, more importantly I underestimated how much I got used to this newfound "wealth" and the comfort of the paychecks. I focused on achieving my "silly" dreams so that when I quit I won't have the regrets of not fulfilling them. I bought my dream car - Red Mustang convertible of which I first read about in school in a children's magazine (Young World). I took various dream tours - even all the way to the Arctic Ocean and Europe, drove 10s of thousands of miles to dozens of national parks in the US. I became an avid biker, biking 200 miles to Portland this summer, learnt scuba diving, went on kayaking trips, rafted through waterfalls, watched all the great movies series published by American Film Institute (some 600 of them), and read through all the pulp fiction works of Grisham, Crichton and other authors.

As I took on dozens of activities my footprint started getting bigger and bigger and I was spending 6 times more than what I used to a 4 years ago. I lived a plain old American dream - drive a convertible, take long roadtrips, live by the lake, watch great movies and enjoy the outdoor activities. I saved a little, but my nest egg was substantially smaller than my peers.

I was also distracted a bit by B-school admissions. I spent a year vetting the schools, meeting the alumni and preparing my essays. I was waitlisted in my top choice schools, but in the last minute couldn't get admission when a bunch of unemployed wall street bankers competed with a lot more attractive resume than mine. I realized that whatever you do, for a Bschool admission committee your engineer resume of building tools and systems is never going to look more attractive than advising on a billion dollar merger or managing a massive portfolio for a mutual fund.

All these factors considerably delayed my progress onto the next stage, but it also gave me more time to fine tune my business ideas and make the networks necessary to build my future team. In the end my top level goal prevailed and whatever happens, I could not afford not to pursue something that was driving me crazy for 2 decades. I cannot lose here - if the company succeeds then it could propel my life, and if it fails it can give me valuable experience in running a business and the satisfaction of pusuing what I wanted.

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