It’s Time for a New Adventure

Thank you National Geographic for the memories

After five years of service I have decided to leave National Geographic, below you will find the thank you letter I sent to the organization on June 26, 2014.

Dear National Geographic,

Today I write you a thank you letter, one that is overflowing with gratitude as I share with you that tomorrow is my last day with the organization. This decision was not made in haste nor delivered with sadness, but rather was filled with hope and excitement as I embark on a new challenge. Inspired by our work together I am leaving to pursue my passion to empower people through the use of data, social design, and emerging technologies and will be launching a startup (more about my future work in the weeks ahead). So I’m writing you this letter to express how thankful I am for the past five years.

Thank you for welcoming me so warmly in to an incredible institution. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to an organization with such a storied past and that holds so much promise for the future. Inspiring your audiences through unrivaled visual storytelling and scientific exploration; whether it’s an investigative article chronicling the horrors of wildlife trafficking in the pages of the magazine, daily online reporting about the impact and importance of science, taking channel viewers for a trip around the world live from the International Space Station, or seeing the potential in a cyborg anthropologist as an emerging explorer. Each of these things may seem small and unconnected when looked at individually, but the culmination of which makes a real difference in people’s lives. As a leader in the new age of exploration your work not only defines our future, it shapes our present.

Thank you for empowering me to use my talents and expertise to help advance our mission. Together we built the technology foundation needed to “turn our mission” over to our members in the years to come, attracted a younger, more global audience to our brand and shared our incredible storytelling and nonprofit work across social platforms. Some specific highlights for me over the last few years have been: hosting a Google+ Hangout from all seven continents; enabling our community to assist in the search for Ghengis Khan’s tomb using satellite imagery; being a part of the team that sent “the deepest Tweet” from 35,755 feet beneath the sea; growing our social efforts to become the 3rd most popular brand on social media in 2013; and so much more. This is just a sample of the amazing and tireless work done by everybody at the Society. And I am extremely proud of my team’s leadership and contributions to this work and in transforming National Geographic’s digital efforts.

Thank you for allowing me to join the ranks of the Society’s passionate and thoughtful stewards, too many of which to name. Just know that I am appreciative of their support in getting things done, their sense of humor in the face of adversity, and their joy and enthusiasm in accomplishing our goals. If someone was to ask me what is National Geographic’s greatest natural resource, it would be the people. Very few organizations around the world have the ability to attract and replenish their staff with such talented women and men as you do. I am humbled that my name will be amongst the long list of people throughout the years who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the work is impactful, the brand is meaningful, and that your mission endures.

Thank you for teaching me lessons that I can use in the years to come. Being able to learn from your explorers, photographers, writers, staff, and members has been priceless. The insight and understanding that failure is not simply part of the scientific process, but of life as well, that you can learn just as much from failure as you can success. The imagination and patience needed to believe in something others may not yet even see as a possibility. Their passion, faith, and determination has imbued my resolve to go out and build a company from the ground up. There will be sleepless nights, much to learn, and mistakes made along the way, but I am thrilled about the road ahead and that I will be joined by my fiancé Nicki and our dog Bruno on this adventure.

It’s an exciting time to be working at the Society. Digital technologies are changing the world around us and provide the organization unlimited potential in further bringing its mission to life, some of which has already started–from collaborative storytelling efforts that share our collective stories and crowdsourcing solutions for the world’s greatest challenges to finding new discoveries using citizen science platforms and bringing people together to crowdfund the work and expeditions of the next generation of explorers. The future is full of possibilities. I look forward to watching all of your successes in the months and years to come. Thank you again for an incredible five years.

See you soon,

Robert Michael Murray


“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan