20th December 2007

15 years at Microsoft, coming to an end…mixed emotions

posted in Events, MVP, Social Media |

Today I formally announced that I’ve decided to leave Microsoft.  I love this company…always have - it has been amazing to me.  I’ve had great opportunities for growth and worked with really incredible people both inside and outside the company.  Microsoft supported me through a difficult time medically - time off, benefits, security and genuine care and concern I’ll never forget.  To be clear, I’m not leaving Microsoft to get away.  Nor am I going off to some other company with a "grass is greener" dream.  That isn’t it. 

I’m leaving because I see an opportunity to follow a dream I’ve had for a long time.  In the weeks ahead, I’ll be a bit more specific about what is next, but you can expect me to use the year ahead to immerse myself in the intersection of social media, influencers and business.  I look forward to writing, speaking and consulting to grow my experience in this exciting space that promises to radically change the face of business and transform how innovation, service and support, and sales and marketing are done. 

I couldn’t be more excited about the time ahead, the opportunity to learn and the chance to demonstrate to my kids that risk-taking and uncertainty are a great part of life. 

Rather than go on too long, I thought it appropriate that I share the personal announcement I sent today to MVPs around the world.  For those who don’t know, I’ve led this effort at Microsoft for the last 5 years.   From our own website:

"Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) are exceptional technical community leaders from around the world who are awarded for voluntarily sharing their high quality, real world expertise in offline and online technical communities. Microsoft MVPs are a highly select group of experts that represents the technical community’s best and brightest, and they share a deep commitment to community and a willingness to help others."

But it’s more than that.  Today there are over 4000 MVPs in 90 countries around the world.  In recent years, I’ve personally met more than 75% of them and logged over 1M air miles connecting with them.  Given the step I’m taking, I owe them a deep thanks.  They were the catalyst, the inspiration and the source of most of what I’ve learned over the years about community.

Here’s what I shared with them today:



In my 15 years at Microsoft, I estimate I’ve sent nearly 500,000 emails, but without question this will be the most personal email I’ve ever written.  I’ve asked the MVP leads around the world to share this with you and I’m also posting it in the lounge and announcement private Newsgroups - given how global we are, I’m certain this won’t arrive at the same time for all of you.

Some of you I’ve known for years, others I’ve met more recently, and some I have yet to meet, but I wanted to share with all of you that I’ve made a very personal decision to leave Microsoft.  I can hardly begin to thank you for the past 5 years during which I’ve led the MVP Award program.  Your passion for community has inspired me more deeply than you can ever know.  Microsoft has been an amazing place and one I find difficult to step away from. I leave behind a deeply supportive and committed MVP team and thousands of fellow employees across the company who have come to appreciate the importance of communities and the incredible voluntary spirit of the world’s MVPs. 

So where am I going?  I hope what you’ll see is that I’m not leaving you, but joining you.  Communities, Social Media and Web 2.0 are transforming the way users connect with businesses and with one another.   I’ve seen, with you, that we are pioneers on the edge of what I believe will be a radical transformation across communities and ALL industries.  In the years ahead, we will see the arrival of the Chief Customer Officer, or more specifically, the Chief User Experience Officer – and great companies will differentiate around their ability to connect with their users in increasingly transparent ways.  I’m proud of my time at Microsoft as I think we are a leader in this transformation and that community and MVPs have been central to the evolution. 

There’s no question that there is more work to be done, but I’ve decided that I want to take on a different role in the industry as a catalyst for helping more companies make this change.  In order to follow this dream, I need to be independent – like each of you.  I won’t be joining another company, but forming one of my own, a company of one for now.  I’m beginning work on a book and over the next 12 months will focus my energy on writing, speaking and consulting in the emerging space of social media and communities.  You are most welcome to follow this journey at my blog (grab the feed), on , via , or via good old fashioned .

I’m sure you may be wondering what this means to the MVP Program.  In the immediate term, I’m still hereJ  You should see relatively little to no difference – it’s “business as usual.”  In my time here, the thing I’m most proud of is the talent we’ve grown to support our long term belief in community – I know this team and the conviction of the leaders around me will assure a seamless transition. We have not yet determined when my last day will be at Microsoft and frankly that is far less important than ensuring a smooth handoff.  The reality is that the people you talk to most often and who are really the ones that make our community efforts work are all still here – your MVP Lead and our global community team. The future of the MVP program simply couldn’t be more secure.  As soon as we have something more concrete to share with you, we will, but in the spirit of transparency, we wanted to share that this change was coming.

Regardless of where I am officially, I am looking forward to seeing you at the MVP Summit as I’m committed to joining you – no matter where I am – for your annual festivities!

Thank you again for the trust and support you’ve given to me, I know this work has changed my path and I deeply appreciate your contributions.


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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 20th, 2007 at 4:53 pm and is filed under Events, MVP, Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are currently 74 responses to “15 years at Microsoft, coming to an end…mixed emotions”

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  1. 1 On December 20th, 2007, Connie Bensen said:

    It’s a big decision but one that I’m sure you’ve thought about for a long time. I left my position of 9 years to join the social media world too. It’s good to have change.

    You’ll do well in your new venture! Enjoy the journey.

  2. 2 On December 20th, 2007, Betsy Weber said:

    Sean - Congrats! Can’t wait to see where your journey takes you! Very exciting news…


  3. 3 On December 20th, 2007, Mukund Mohan said:

    Rock on. Its going to be a BLAST. Sean, Good luck, great wishes.

  4. 4 On December 20th, 2007, Curt said:

    Sean: Congratulations, man. As the son of a man who eventually decided to do it himself, as the grandson of another, I empathize. As my friends in the rock and roll ensemble “Billy Jack” once so sagely said, “Never apologize for ruling.”

  5. 5 On December 20th, 2007, deb schultz said:

    Good luck Sean - cant wait to hear more..welcome to the indie world - it is fun out here!

  6. 6 On December 20th, 2007, Jeremiah Owyang said:

    Sounds like an exciting time. I’m sure the MVP program and the MVPs are sad to see you move on. Looking forward to seeing what comes next!

  7. 7 On December 20th, 2007, Aaron Strout said:

    And to think, I missed breaking your news on our podcast. Looks like we’ll have a lot to talk about on 1/4! Congrats.

  8. 8 On December 20th, 2007, Video: Microsoft’s Community Leader Sean O’ Driscoll on Satisfaction, Loyalty, & Affinity (4:15) said:

    […] the three different layers and levels of community. Sean has served the program for 15 years, and had just announced he’s planning to leave Microsoft to try some exciting things (we’ll be hearing from him soon). Thanks Sean for sharing with us […]

  9. 9 On December 20th, 2007, Haaron Gonzalez said:

    I’m sure you will rock the world. Congratulations and all the best for you.

  10. 10 On December 20th, 2007, Suzanna said:

    Was just reading an old magazine that had an article about this book, you may find it interesting
    “Thinking About Tomorrow: Reinventing Yourself at Midlife” by Susan Crandell
    Congratulations on making the leap!

  11. 11 On December 20th, 2007, Carlos Perez said:

    Dear Sean
    I’m sure you will rock :) no matter the destination you are going to. “Mutatis mutandi”, my dear friend, “having been changed which had to be changed”. I feel this one is a mature decision, so best wishes for you, Sean, and hope to see you in April!

  12. 12 On December 20th, 2007, 15 años en Microsoft llegan a su fin... - Noticias externas said:

    […] Para mí es una pena tener que compartir esta noticia, la he traducido pero ustedes podrán encontrar el mensaje original en le blog de Sean. […]

  13. 13 On December 20th, 2007, Chris said:

    Congrats. ;)

  14. 14 On December 20th, 2007, Community Guy - Jake McKee » Please welcome Sean to the tough, wonderful road said:

    […] friend Sean O’Driscoll announced today that he’s leaving his well-known position at Microsoft after 15 years to take a go at the […]

  15. 15 On December 20th, 2007, Community Guy - Jake McKee » The shelf life of a community worker said:

    […] friend and fellow community guy Sean O’Driscoll announced today that he’s leaving his well-known position at Microsoft after 15 years to take a go at the […]

  16. 16 On December 20th, 2007, Kathy Jacobs said:

    As an MVP, I can truly say that you will be missed at Microsoft. As a social network lover, I can also say that you are a great fit for the new brand of independent community leader and social media/network enthusiast. I know you will rock at whatever you do!

  17. 17 On December 20th, 2007, Lori Woehler said:

    Congratulations Sean! Best wishes to you for much happiness and success with the new adventure.

  18. 18 On December 20th, 2007, Aditya Mohan said:

    Wow - good luck….couldn’t agree more with your vision of the future…it is all about the social communities - especially as we get ‘wiser’ ;-)…ironic that facebook is the forum for me to learn of your next endevour!

  19. 19 On December 20th, 2007, People on the move in the Social Media Industry said:

    […] to Sean O’Driscoll who’s moving on to new opportunities. He served customers as Microsoft’s MVP online advocate program, a 15 year veteran of MS, and […]

  20. 20 On December 20th, 2007, Evelyn Ruf said:

    Sean, I admire your vision and courage for taking the plunge. I wish you the best of luck and every success in your continuing role as thought leader!

  21. 21 On December 21st, 2007, Patrick Plawner said:

    There are some people, whatever they do, they do it in an amazing level of success.
    These people, you may even hire them, then think about what you want to do with them :)

    I was so lucky to meet you and enjoyed so much every time. I am so much looking forward where is the next place you are going to succeed, and will make sure we will always keep in touch. For pleasure, and for work !

    Wish you the best. Happy New Year 2008 with certainly many fun new challenges coming. Well done my friend !

  22. 22 On December 21st, 2007, Michael Schwarz said:

    Sean, you will be missed in the Microsoft MVP group. Thank you for all your hard work you have done the last years, and: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


  23. 23 On December 21st, 2007, Ramon Durães said:

    Hi Sean,
    You it contributed very for the community!
    Brazil MVP’s!!
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

  24. 24 On December 21st, 2007, Francois Gossieaux said:

    Good luck Sean - I think you will enjoy it!

  25. 25 On December 21st, 2007, hima said:

    good Luck Sean! We all miss you

  26. 26 On December 21st, 2007, Matias Iacono said:

    Best for you.
    Is really a big lost, we will miss you.

    Matias Iacono - MVP

  27. 27 On December 21st, 2007, Jean-Luc David said:

    Thanks for all your great work with the MVP program and I wish you all the best with your new ventures! Happy holidays!

  28. 28 On December 21st, 2007, Emilio MANSUR said:

    I always say that December is the month of planning and big changes.

    Sean, your announcement shows a real change :)
    Good luck and best wishes to you and success with the new adventure.

  29. 29 On December 21st, 2007, Rogerio Melo said:


    I wish all the best to you on your new journey. I’m sure you can go wherever you want and make your dreams and wishes come true!

    Cheers and happy holidays for you and family!

    Rogerio Melo - SMS MVP - Brazil

  30. 30 On December 21st, 2007, Emerson FACUNTE said:

    Hey Big Sean (the Sammy Sosa from the World MPVs!) :)
    You´re a light, power & mind!
    Brazil love´s you!
    See you later alligator :)
    Facunte ASP.Net MVP

  31. 31 On December 21st, 2007, Carlos F P Rocha said:

    Hey Sean,

    great luck for you man. I like a lot the communities too and specially connections with investors. My Masters dissertation was in investor relations and it was the field where I got my first impressions on social communities/connections and I trully believe the whole world where we live is based on those, thats why I believe you will achieve great success on this new “era”.

    I would recommend some authors like William Mahoney, Richard Altman and Philip Lesly on this field. I am eager to write a book on it too. Maybe we could write an international book, with studies on both countries, :D. What do you think?

    Lets keep in touch to talk about social media/networks/communities/connections and barbecue of course, :D.

    Congratulations from Brazil SBS MVP!!
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for you and your loved ones!!

  32. 32 On December 21st, 2007, Sean O'Driscoll leaves Microsoft - Carlos Fernando Paleo da Rocha SBS MVP in Brazil said:

    […] https://communitygrouptherapy.com/2007/12/20/15-years-at-microsoft-coming-to-an-endmixed-emotions/ Published Friday, December 21, 2007 9:55 AM by paleo Filed under: General […]

  33. 33 On December 21st, 2007, Sean O'Driscoll leaves Microsoft - Tecnologias said:

    […] Fonte: https://communitygrouptherapy.com/2007/12/20/15-years-at-microsoft-coming-to-an-endmixed-emotions/ […]

  34. 34 On December 21st, 2007, Raghu Boddu said:

    Good luck Sean.. Cheers and happy holidays for you and your family!

  35. 35 On December 21st, 2007, Marcio Elias said:

    Good luck Sean, I wish the best to you. 2008 will be a grear year for all of us.
    Brazil MVP.

  36. 36 On December 21st, 2007, Ben M. Schorr said:

    Aloha Sean! I’m not going to say I’ll miss you because I fully expect that you’re still going to be very much among us in your new role. I will however wish you all the best in your new endeavors and say that I hope we get to BBQ again sometime soon.

    Best wishes and aloha,


  37. 37 On December 21st, 2007, Tom O'Brien said:


    Good luck with what comes next. There is more than enough room in the pool - especially for people like you who start with listening.

    Tom O’B

  38. 38 On December 21st, 2007, Osvaldo Casagrande said:

    Sean, I know that you will be good.
    Thanks for give part of your live to MVP and communities.
    We (all MVPs) know that all people that you teach we will follow your directions, and all MVPs are in good hands.

    I hope that MVP communities could give you a hand in your new proyect.

    Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    Thanks a LOT!!!!!!

  39. 39 On December 21st, 2007, Joao Livio said:

    Life must go on, Thank You Sean!

  40. 40 On December 21st, 2007, Wallace Santos said:


    I could say a lot of words to you at this moment, but I think that only one is the correct: Congratulations.
    You are a great guy and We can see this just looking you. God bless you in your new challenge and if, in some moment, you think that I can help you for anything, please feel free to contact me.

    Thanks for all Sean! Merry Christmas and a happy, very happy new year for you and your family!!

  41. 41 On December 21st, 2007, Heidi said:

    Best of luck to you!

  42. 42 On December 21st, 2007, Anand Khanse, MVP said:

    Best to go where your heart takes you Sean !
    Warm Regards & Wishes from India !

  43. 43 On December 21st, 2007, Sasha Krsmanovic said:

    Good luck Sean. As soon as we come up with “Social Networking” competency, you will qualify for MVP Award :-)

  44. 44 On December 21st, 2007, Alead said:

    Sean, it was a great honor working for you and with you, even far away from Seattle. I’m sure you’ll continue to do great things as your passion and knowledge and commitment are admirable. Thanks for what you did for the MVP Program and a superb “Good Luck” for your upcoming exciting challenges !

  45. 45 On December 21st, 2007, Zena said:

    Looking forward to hearing about your new endeavor, Sean. Best of luck.


  46. 46 On December 21st, 2007, Jeff Sandquist said:

    Congratulations Sean. Good luck on life outside the big house. ;-)

  47. 47 On December 21st, 2007, Lionel Menchaca said:

    Sean: Congratulations on what you have achieved, and for what you will do moving forward. You have been a big influence, both to me and to many others at Dell who are working to shape our digital media strategy.

    All the best my friend.

  48. 48 On December 21st, 2007, Lee LeFever said:

    WOOHOO! Congrats on making the leap Sean. I really like what you said about using this as a lesson in risk taking for your kids. We’re big believers that few people ever grew old wishing they had taken less risks. I look forward to your next big adventure.

  49. 49 On December 21st, 2007, Nestor Portillo said:

    Well while this looks like a win-win situation because the industry is gaining an excellent professional that for sure will make a strong contribution and the MVP program is gaining another “evangelist” in the market; some of us (like me for example) are loosing a strong leader and a Community/Customer service mentor however I am sure that you’re going to be around in your new role (I know where you live :o) ).

    I admire people who chase their dreams and knowing you I am sure that you will achieve great success on this new endeavor.

    Best of luck to you! and THANKS A LOT!

    Wish you the best. Happy holidays

  50. 50 On December 21st, 2007, Len Devanna said:

    Sean - Congrats on this! I wish you the best and look forward to working with you in the future. I’m confident our paths will cross again, soon.

    I’d also like to thank you again for the gentle nudge you’d given me over the summer. Your a visionary and an inspiration - and you have my respect.

    Best of luck & happy holidays

  51. 51 On December 21st, 2007, Sean ODriscoll said:

    I don’t know how to say thanks enough to all of you…I’m numb, inspired and intimidated by the generous outreach. So many times in my business life I’ve heard people say “don’t take it personal, it’s just business.” It’s good advice to create some disciplined distance, but you learn over time that you have the opportunity to really touch people personally and be touched back through others knowledge, experience and caring. So, here’s to taking things a little personal. A great gift from you for the holidays!


  52. 52 On December 21st, 2007, Ron Casalotti said:

    Good Luck Sean!

    I am glad we had the opportunity to meet and chat about curating community and I look forward to continuing the conversation going forward.


  53. 53 On December 21st, 2007, Eduardo Jezierski (formerly p&p) said:

    Best of success with your new venture, sounds fascinating! (and how about the Chief Design Officer…)
    I was able to observe much of your work during the last 5 years from patterns & practices and I always felt confident that we had a competent and caring leader bringing identity to Microsoft’s larger circle. I think most MVPs will appreciate all your work that was visible to them, and I want you and them to know your work towards the inside of the organization was none the less impressive.
    Stay hungry, stay foolish!

  54. 54 On December 21st, 2007, Sylvain said:

    Wow 15 years in a company …. amazing. congrats for your new position, all the best for your next 15 years

  55. 55 On December 21st, 2007, Rodney R. Folurnier said:

    Great! I leave NASA and the MVP program and join Microsoft. Then you leave Microsoft. DOH!!!!

    Good luck buddy, you will be missed.

  56. 56 On December 21st, 2007, Sam Decker said:

    Does this mean I’ll see you more on the ‘junket’? Hope so. Congratulations…change is good.

  57. 57 On December 21st, 2007, jon said:

    Wow, exciting! Best of luck in your new explorations; looking forward to hearing more!

  58. 58 On December 22nd, 2007, shashi bellamkonda said:


    Congratulations on the move ! Microsoft will miss you so will the MVPs. I liked the program and received help from MVPs many times. I hope our paths cross as I take steps within Network Solutions to esablish a listneing post and reach out to hlp people.



  59. 59 On December 24th, 2007, Nick Hodge said:


    Congratulations on a brave decision, hope it works out for you and that we meet again someday in person

    Nick Hodge
    MVP, Excel

  60. 60 On December 26th, 2007, Geetesh Bajaj said:

    Sean, I’m sure you must have made the right decision — wish you the best in whatever you do, and hope our paths continue to cross.

  61. 61 On December 27th, 2007, Jorge Serrano said:

    Jefe, it’s a little sad read your post, but I wish you good luck with your dream!

    If you need whatever thing, You will have a friend in Spain.

    Tú sabes. ;-)

  62. 62 On December 28th, 2007, Duncan said:

    Your singing will be missed this year.
    Thanks for your work - it made being an MVP fun


  63. 63 On December 31st, 2007, Mauricio Grimberg said:

    Well & Wow!!
    There’s a new world for the big Sean. It’s great!
    Thanks for all, really. I’m expecting to see you again :D
    I’m copying this from Rodney R. Folurnier: “Good luck buddy, you will be missed”

  64. 64 On January 2nd, 2008, Choirul Amri said:

    congrats for the brave decision!
    I will wait your new service spreading around us :)


  65. 65 On January 4th, 2008, MarieMc said:

    Congrats again Sean!
    May you be even more impactful in the next 15 than in the last - we will miss you!

  66. 66 On January 4th, 2008, Daniel said:

    Sean -

    Congratulations on your decision. Please keep us posted!

  67. 67 On January 7th, 2008, Vincenzo Di Russo [MVP IE] said:

    Thank you for your great work with and for MVPs and good luck, Sean :-)

  68. 68 On January 7th, 2008, Ester Memoli [Office system MVP] said:

    All the best to you, Sean. We never had the chance to meet as MVP, but I’m sure we can do it anyway.

    May life be kind with you


  69. 69 On January 11th, 2008, Hitchhikernation » Blog Archive » Sean O’Driscoll Leaves Microsoft said:

    […] this isn’t necessarily up-to-the-minute news, as Sean posted about his leaving Microsoft on December 20. However I’m not sure if many outside the MVP program had any exposure to him, and my brief […]

  70. 70 On January 11th, 2008, All about Microsoft mobile edition said:

    […] of Community Support Services and Microsoft’s MVP (Most Valuable Professional) program Sean O’Driscoll resigned in late December to pursue his own community interests. No replacement has been named for O’Driscoll so […]

  71. 71 On January 11th, 2008, MVP boss leaving « Smurf on Spreadsheets said:

    […] Heres his blog […]

  72. 72 On January 12th, 2008, Davide Vernole said:

    Sometimes our life needs a shock to remide us that we are live. Embrace a new adventure can give you the necessary shock. However, we will miss you!

    One of the Italian Gladiators :(

  73. 73 On April 9th, 2008, Channel 9: Sean O’Driscoll ???? MVP ? MVP ?? - LiveSino - LiveSide ??? said:

    […] ?? Sean…??? 5???Sean ??? MVP ?????????? 4000 ? MVP??Sean ?????????????: 15 years at Microsoft, coming to an end…mixed emotions? […]

  74. 74 On January 2nd, 2009, ANNOUNCEMENT: Kicking off 2009 with a Merger: Introducing Ant’s Eye View (2.0)! : Community Group Therapy said:

    […] has been amazing.  It seems long ago, and strangely just like yesterday, that I decided to leave Microsoft after 15 years and pursue my own interest in the Social Media and Communities space.  So far, […]

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