by Bryan Kirschner on April 28, 2009 03:37pm
The first time I went to a LinuxWorld conference as a Microsoft employee, a guy passing by me saw "Microsoft" on my name badge and stopped. "Microsoft? What are you guys doing here?" he said. "I loved Microsoft. You put my kids through college."
As it turns out, he owned a small IT business during the late ‘80s and early 90s, which thrived building applications during the headiest days of the "PC revolution."
The last time I went to an OSBC as a Microsoft employee, I MC’d the third annual Open Source ISV "Day 0" event hosted by Microsoft. I told that story in my opening remarks. At the reception at the end of the day, one of the attendees came up to me and said: "You know, I’m one of those guys who’s been doing technology for 30 years. And today’s event felt like Microsoft in the early 90s. It’s the first time I’ve gotten that from Microsoft in a long time."
It seemed a very fitting way to bracket one of the most challenging but also rewarding periods of my career: one that had its roots and the fertile soil for its success in my friends and former bosses Bill Hilf and Sam Ramji. They created space for me, the latitude to go out and figure out a way forward for Microsoft and open source, by first listening to customers, developers, and sys admins face-to-face.
That opportunity culminated in my becoming the first person in the company (but not the last!) to hold the title "Director of Open Source Strategy" and shipping the first company-wide statement of policy and position on open source.
There are a few things I have always gotten excited about: technology is one. Politics is another. Learning new things is a third. These add to a strong desire to spend all of my time playing MMORPGs. But since that isn’t economically viable, they fortunately also add to up a consistent interest in understanding interesting, often controversial, convoluted, and conflict-ridden-situations and figuring new ways forward.
I did this in the public sector, working on community policing, where I sprinkled in some work on political positioning, messaging, and communications. And then I brought that background to Microsoft ten years ago.
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner connects all the dots in a new and exciting way. The founder, Stan Greenberg, is widely known for being the pollster and strategist for Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Nelson Mandela. GQRR has a big political consulting practice, and a smaller (but expanding) corporate consulting practice. Continuing and accelerating the growth of the latter is my new job.
I’ve been around Port 25 since its very beginning. Pre-beginning, actually. I owe a huge debt to everyone inside Microsoft but, even more importantly, outside Microsoft who helped make it what it is today.
My new boss, Jeremy Rosner, was the subject of a movie called "Our Brand is Crisis." Port25 will always be with me as a powerful and tangible part of a big shift from "Microsoft and open source" looking more like a "brand" that equals "crisis" to one that looks more like…well, like Port25. Which is what it should be.
So…thanks. I certainly still expect to be engaged on issues of openness and technology.You can now find me at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.