At NAB in April 1997 I had a very interesting breakfast with John Poisson (dude, you really need a blog!). John had become a good friend of mine during our days at Avid where, amongst other things, we'd experienced the joys of exhibiting vaporware at a major trade show (Avid Media Spectrum at Montreux 1993*) . He had subsequently joined a company called Softimage and was working on product called Digital Studio. At a time when most post production tasks were taking place either on custom Abekas hardware, expensive SGI computers or aging Macs (i.e. crashing MacOS 9), DS would be the first of a new wave of tools running on the fledgling Windows NT platform that enabled powerful commodity hardware to be brought to bear on the varied tasks of professional digital media production in the uncompressed video domain.
Softimage was a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft and that was it right there.. Microsoft was doing some very cool things; At breakfast, John pitched the company and convinced me to read Microsoft Secrets; it wasn't too long before I interviewed with Softimage in Montreal, Canada; then the job offer came.
However, after due consideration, it turned out that plan A was more appealing, I declined the offer and proceeded to co-found a UK post production reseller with some exceptional colleagues and friends from Avid UK. ROOT6, as we decided to call the company, went on to sell more DS product than anyone in the world in the first year of trading.
Subsequently, Avid acquired Softimage from Microsoft, ROOT6 became the leading Avid reseller in Europe by revenue, diversified into new areas and survived the market downturn which claimed a bunch of scalps in the London post market. A lot of water flowed under the metaphorical bridge (and, in my case, a lot of code too).
And so here we are, 9 years later. And a different plan A is emerging for me.. I'm joining Microsoft; they got me in the end.. I'm taking the Red Pill, that accepted post-Matrix euphemism. My family are moving to Redmond, Washington in late September '06 where I will be taking up a Program Manager position on the Expression team. Contrary to the continuing negative energy in the blogosphere, MS have some extremely exciting stuff on the go (both announced and unannounced) and I look forward to contributing to future waves.
You can count on the fact that I'll be sharing my experiences right here in the months and years to come.
Meanwhile, ContentAgent is safe in the hands of the Talented Mr Ridley and some cool things are already under way; to my fellow directors and the whole ROOT6 team: good luck, godspeed and go kick some more butt out there. You guys ROCK. Its all good.
* It was the quintessential conceptual demo... click on an element in the video e.g. a wrench that a car mechanic was holding and it auto-selected with a roto-spline which then auto-tracked frame by frame so it could be painted out of the shot! If only life was that easy when the demo isn't hard coded:-)