Left Microsoft in July — after 12 wonderful years working with the most amazing friends as we redefined and revolutionized enterprise communications. Here is an edited and shortened version of the note I shared with my team who were there every step of the way. Very proud of what the team has accomplished.
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This was a very difficult decision for me to make. I am honored to have served the RTC/UC business for 12yrs. Microsoft UC story is one of the truly great tech success stories of the past decade — outstanding vision, superb execution, brilliant people, and an incredible growth in the enterprise space that most can only dream about.
The rest is history as we landed a radically new approach to how corporate users communicate and collaborate in real time and later reinvented the business as part of the larger O365 suite.
It’s certainly been a once in a lifetime opportunity as I got to travel the world, tell our story and help organizations of all sizes — from smallest customers and partners in Latin America to the largest banks and telcos in the US and Europe — transform their organizations and their approach to enterprise communications. All this is the legacy I leave behind and memories I carry with me. Great people coming together on a great mission. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the entire org, our extended stakeholders and customers/partners for the experience I have gained by contributing to this business. I am very grateful for the time I have spent here and the lifelong friendships I’ve built. Microsoft has a bright future ahead — I hope I find an opportunity to come back one day and contribute to this great company in the future.
To my team ….
Given that I have known/worked with most of you for years, you know just how difficult it was for me to decide to leave and explore new territory, but the time has come. I cannot think of a greater and more capable group of folks to leave our collective legacy with. You will take this product to new heights and delight who matter most … customers. What’s amazing about spending a dozen uninterrupted years on helping build a business from ground up is that you get to know the best of the best. And about a year and a bit ago I was given a rare opportunity to bring all of you together in one team. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished together and what you will all continue to deliver in the future. As you push forward with exciting challenges ahead, I ask that you don’t lose sight of the following couple of areas that have been the cornerstone of our success to date:
Show up and stay at it.
To add some perspective to this, let me say I never imagined we would be the ones building the product/service that ultimately ended up defining how corporate users communicate in the new world and get work done. When I started on this journey our unique value prop was encrypted IM and that’s how we competed with corporate standards at the time (AOL and our own MSN service). We had a grand vision but to think we would get the chance to invent UC and turn an entire industry upside down? Nope, never in my wildest dream. One thing I knew we were great at though and that was persistence. We were not afraid to hit the pavement and walk in every major private and public institution around the world to tell our story and demonstrate incremental progress towards our vision. What brought all of us together and will drive this business forward is a common sense of purpose. More important than any of the products, revenue or usage we’ve achieved together, we’ve helped redefine how people work and how they communicate. It’s been an incredible ride and only made possible because of the commitment and tenacity of every one of you in this team and the extended org. The world needs this group to remain as ambitious as ever and continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible.
Let me give you a more recent example. About a year ago when most of you joined the current team… would you have believed if I had told you we would get this incredible group of folks together, launch 2 cloud born customer success frameworks, build a strong ecosystem of over 100 partners, work with <edited> top Skype CPC/Cloud PBX customers and deliver <edited> minutes. And that’s precisely what we did. You showed up and you gave it your all. You went above and beyond. Every day. Day after day. You’ve often heard me talk about how the answer is always no unless you ask and step in. It’s vital to lean in and push forward one step at a time. That’s how magic happens. You made magic in FY17 and you will do it again. This team has some audacious goals for FY18 and beyond and I know our customers and partners can count on you to exceed their expectations. I am counting on you.
Obsess over customers: they’re the north star.
Customers are the reason all of us got this rare chance to be here in the first place. It is because customers believed in our vision and have been willing to pay for our collective craft that you and I got to work together. Take care of them and let their experiences and satisfaction be the key guiding principle in your decision making process. I love this letter from Jeff Bezos and read it at least once a month. Not only do I agree with all of it I’m impressed at how succinctly and convincingly he presents it. As Jeff notes: “There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality… Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.” Keep a laser focus on the prize and do what’s needed to delight customers. Also, you don’t need to wait for permission to be customer obsessed — in fact don’t take my word for it, hear it directly from Satya <internal link edited>.
As I reflect on the journey of UC (both recent past and since the beginning), the term “startup” comes to mind. I am not sure that’s the right all-encompassing term though as it only emphasizes starting something new. In addition to our willingness to self-disrupt and start fresh several times along the way, the real work and secret to success has been in persistence, solving harder and harder problems over time and never giving up. To continue changing the world, I ask you continue to apply the growth mindset mixed with a healthy (read full) dose of persistence, relentlessness and customer obsession. As I think back, that’s what’s worked so well for us. I am confident you will continue changing the world as you push forward with that recipe.
While I might be leaving the group, I would like to stay in touch and continue to nurture the decade+ long friendships we’ve developed. My contact info will remain the same — I look forward to hearing from you and staying in touch. If you visit Toronto, I’d love to host you so keep me in mind as part of your trip. It’s been the honor of my life to work with you all. I now leave our beloved product with you and cheer you from the sidelines.