Leaving the Evil Empire

Crossing a bridgeTL;DR: I’m leaving Microsoft to found my own company. My involvement in Orchard continues unchanged.

It’s been almost nine years. Nine years at Microsoft, first as a developer, and then as a program manager. I’ve worked on ASP.NET versions 2.0 to 4.0, ASP.NET Ajax, Ajax Control Toolkit, then on integrating jQuery into the Microsoft developer’s toolbox, and of course, on Orchard. I’ve made mistakes, errors of judgment, but I like to think I’ve learned a lot along the way, that my blog has helped many who were learning or struggling with the technology, and that I’ve built a few really cool things.

Most of all, I’ve changed.

When I got hired by Scott Guthrie et al., Microsoft was for me the Mecca of software development, the place where the amazing, superbly integrated software that I loved was made. I thought ASP.NET was the best group at Microsoft, and the most innovative. It was the zenith of my career. So I thought. During those nine years, I saw how the sausage was made, and I understood that innovation was and should be less centralized, and that open-source and community-driven software was a lot more exciting and promising than anything that a single actor could come up with, no matter how big it was. Maybe because it was so big.

At the same time, the world changed.

Almost all sectors of human activity have started to move away from a hierarchical, top-down model, to a distributed one. It takes the form of open source, of peer-to-peer, or of social networks.

I have a conviction that this is only the beginning of a profound change in our societies, that innovation is considerably more likely to occur in cooperative networks of small structures than in large competing corporations.

All this, plus a number of ideas that I can’t possibly develop at Microsoft, led me to the decision to quit my job and to found my own company.

So what does this mean for Orchard?

Not much. Let me explain what Orchard means to me. Before Microsoft hired me, I had spent two years building a CMS on ASP.NET, that was very targeted at rationalizing our web site development business. I knew at the time that most web sites are first and foremost content-driven. In the ASP.NET team, the focus was very different: the technology was built for business applications, not really web sites. From the start, I advocated for an approach that gave contents a more prominent place, ideally through a new content-centric framework. Eventually, others came to similar conclusions from different starting points, and the time became right for Orchard to begin. I jumped in enthusiastically.

In other words, Orchard is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, and I care about it very much. We still have a lot of work to do on the platform, and I’m going to be a part of that.

Orchard is also one of the first projects started by Microsoft to make such a full transition to a community-driven project. From our beginnings where 100% of the code was produced by a team of a dozen Microsoft employees, we are now able to produce amazing releases such as Orchard 1.4 with only two full-time employees, because the community has stepped in to produce the new features. Governance of the project has been transferred to an elected steering committee.

For me to leave Microsoft and become a part of this community only makes sense.

My new company, Nwazet, is focused on Open Source software and hardware. The hardware part won’t surprise you much if you’re a regular reader of this blog. With my business partner and friend Fabien Royer, we’re in the process of building amazing new products around Netduino microcontrollers.

And… That’s about it. I’m very excited about this change. If you or your company need help on Orchard projects, custom electronics or both, hire us!


  • Best of luck with your new adventure, and keep rocking the World with Orchard!!

    Out of curiosity, is Nwazet pronounced as noisette?


  • Congratulstions Bertrand, I'm sure you'll be a total success wherever you aim your talents. Sad I didn't get to work with you.

  • For several years I've been regularly following your blog. Good stuff. I'm also using Orchard since v0.8.

    Whatever you're going to do now - best of luck to you and your partner.

    Sad day for Microsoft though...

  • Choix délicat mais mûri j'en suis sûr.
    Je te souhaite le meilleur dans ta nouvelle aventure.

  • Can't say I didn't see that coming when Nwazet came online a while back ;) Congrats and best of luck to you and Fabien

  • Good luck with your new job and company. We will miss you as a full time employee working on Orchard. You're help at the forums was amazing! I hope you don't forget about Orchard in time.

  • Simone: yes, it's phonetic for noisette.

  • Good luck, Bertrand! I wish you te best. Outs been amazing what you guys have done turning Orchard into a true community driven project!

  • Bertrand: Congratulations on your decision to leave the Mothership and return to the real world ;)

    And thanks also for all your hard work in driving Orchard forward - and helping adopters like me learn how it works. Orchard truly is a magnificent, sophisticated product!

    I can't see what you guys come up with in your new venture. I wish you every success and hope to see you around in Seattle's rapidly growing start-up community :D

  • all the very best Bertrand!!!

  • I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to leave Microsoft, but after reading this I guess it makes sense. In any case, I'm relieved to hear your position on Orchard :)

    Congratulations, and may your new company rise like a rocket

  • Congratulations and good luck! This blog is a great source of information and the Orchard project is an amazing accomplishment. You did contribute to change inside Microsoft and should be proud of the result!

  • Good luck with Nwazet.

    Really pleased you're staying involved with Orchard. Thanks for all your hard work.

    I have a netduido gathering dust, just waiting for the perfect project so I look forward to seeing what you get up to.

  • Félicitations pour ce choix, et je te souhaite beaucoup de réussite pour la suite !

  • Best of luck on the new venture Bertrand. Microsoft will miss you, but I'm glad to hear that the Orchard community won't be missing you! :-)

  • Best of luck for you and your new company my friend.

  • Wow, all the best in the new endeavour, I'll be following it closely too. I'm really excited to see what you can do with the hardware side. I think you are right that the trend it to distributed, something that has been happening since the first PC, but accelerating now. This can only be good for people.

    Very best of luck to you man.

  • MS will be worse for not having you, Bertrand. Best of luck to you on your new adventure.

  • Thanks all for the very kind comments.

    @James: last day is tomorrow. I will continue to blog here, until I find enough time to move to Orchard, at which time I'll set-up permanent redirects from here. Feedburner will not change, and I think I'll keep the title for the time being. Once I'm gone, Sébastien remains the only Microsoft full-time employee working on Orchard. But the man is a powerhouse, as should be clear from his amazing work on 1.4 (and YesSql, that he built on his free time, whatever that is). Finally, nothing is visible yet in terms of Orchard and devices working together, except that we use Orchard on our sites and to sell our first kit.

  • ...I will continue to blog here, until I find enough time to move to Orchard...

    Alternatively, get weblogs.asp.net to switch to Orchard? :)

  • Haha! You wish!

  • Take care Bertrand

    You broken new OSS ground with Orchard. Looking forward to see how you help taking it forward from the outside. Good luck in the new company.

  • Best of luck to you Bertrand!!

  • Have fun and good luck with Nwazet! And to be honnest i'm glad to read that u'll still be doing Orchard 'work' from outside MS. But does it mean u are still a part of Outercurve?

  • @Raymond: I only had a work for hire agreement with Microsoft and Outercurve, so my contributions could go under Outercurve copyright. Now I don't need that anymore, but my contributions, like anybody else's, still goes under Outercurve. I also chat with them from time to time, we have a couple of projects together.

  • Bertrand,

    Congratulations on a new beginning! Thanks for all you contributed from inside the walls of MSFT, and especially for engaging with and listening to the community. You will be missed! See you in the Orchard.


    (MVP & ASPInsiders)

  • Best of luck, Bertrand. I love the PIX-6T4, and I hope you and Fabien come up with tons of other cool ideas :)


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