Thank you, Microsoft.

Disclaimer: This post gets personal.

Some of you may know by now that after 3 incredible years at Microsoft, I have decided to move on to a new opportunity (which I will update you on in the upcoming weeks). My experience at Microsoft has been – with all of its ups and downs – one of the best experiences of my life. And I wanted to take a few minutes to share it with you.

Learning to swim in foreign, corporate waters.

For years, I had dreamed of working and living in France – that’s no secret. But after TechCrunch, I really wanted a job that would let me work with a variety of startups and the ecosystem as a whole. Therefore, when Microsoft came knocking on my door with this opportunity, I didn’t hesitate for a second.

Still, my early days at Microsoft were nothing short of extremely challenging. After 2 and a half years in the UK, I moved back to France – which seemed almost like a foreign country. I endured months of administrative and visa headaches, which made it feel like I was arriving into one, big mess rather than onto solid ground. I hit the ground running but it was hard for me to get organized and keep up with my work and emails. As time went on, I felt worse and worse about my work. I tried to hide it but it started to show; I grew tired and lost energy and motivation. Eventually, I managed to find my place but it did take me a long time. There were so many people that were supportive and patient with me during that time – to you, I’d like to say thank you.

Colleagues

With some of my lovely colleagues.

“Seriously…Microsoft?”

I was also surprised to find that a lot of people from the ecosystem challenged my decision to join Microsoft, which now just seems like a ridiculous thing to do. I found myself often having to justify why I wanted to work for the company. Now, looking back, I realize this job grew into far more than I could have ever imagined when I accepted the offer. Microsoft trusted me with so many things and provided me with a number of really unique opportunities; I got to have lunch with President Hollande and interview Satya Nadella on stage at one of our Microsoft Ventures Demo Days. The company let me continue to work on Girls in Tech, Failcon and Tech.eu alongside my job, which included projects that involved Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, the European Commission’s Neelie Kroes, several French Ministers and more. Shortly after I joined the company, I started appearing in various rankings – including one where I most recently discovered that I’m super rich (which I wasn’t aware of). So, that’s cool. Jokes aside, to all those people that once thought “why Microsoft?” hopefully now you have your answer 🙂

Roxanne Varza Satya Interview

Interviewing Satya Nadella in November 2014.

Microsoft Ventures: no longer in beta.

One of the projects that I got to work on over the last few years is our accelerator program, Microsoft Ventures. Now, as we launch into the 7th accelerator class, I can see that our program is no longer in beta. Just over the last few weeks, multiple startups that we’ve worked with announced investment rounds with some very high caliber investors (congrats guys!). I have to say, I am very proud of the program that we have built – which would not have been possible without the support and involvement of numerous people at Microsoft and in the ecosystem – thank you all. As I move on, I leave behind me an incredible team that I will continue to strengthen the program and build it in the right direction. And finally, I have to mention the startups! We have worked with some wonderful startups and I have loved worked with each and every one of you. You can always knock on my door for anything you need 🙂

MS Ventures Team

The early Microsoft Ventures days – after our first Demo Day in February 2014.

The ecosystem divide.

I do have to say that my experience at Microsoft was also incredibly humbling. I came into the company thinking that many of my colleagues didn’t understand how to work with startups and I could not have been more wrong. Turns out, a lot of them have actually had startups or worked for them, and were far more experienced than I on the topic. I think the startup ecosystem forgets this – and often has the wrong attitude when it comes to working with large corporations. Yes, there is room for A LOT of improvement in how startups and large corporations work together – but there are changes that can be made on both sides. Who knows, maybe there is even room for startups to innovate in this area. Regardless, I encourage the ecosystem to shed it’s blind attitude in order to move things forward.

Thank you, Microsoft.

Ultimately, I look back over the last 3 years and I cannot help but feel insanely grateful. The people I have worked with, the opportunities I’ve had, the things I have learned…I don’t think I could have imagined it any better. I hope that everyone at some point in their life gets a similarly fulfilling experience to the one I had at Microsoft.

Insta

The photos my colleagues made for the office wall of frame. ❤

To my incredible colleagues, I am really going to miss you all. You taught me so much – most importantly, that a little humor changes everything (example: see image above). I’m also going to miss sitting next to the eternal Christmas tree that wears a sparkly, red hat. I’m told his name is Dave but I’d really like his name to be Jean-François.

I will be announcing in the upcoming weeks where I am heading next – I am beyond thrilled. Even though some of you already know what the job is, I’d like to ask for your respect and discretion until I am ready to announce it myself.

If you are interested in applying for my job at Microsoft, here is the job listing. The job was previously held by people like Julien Codorniou (Facebook), Blaise Vignon (Criteo) & Lubomira Rochet (L’Oréal). Not too shabby if you ask me 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Thank you, Microsoft.

  1. Roxanne,

    You were a huge help to me, I’m sure without you even realizing it. You did great work there and we all expect even greater things from you in the future.

    Bon chance!
    Dave Guilford
    Paris4Parents

  2. History will recall that your last public apparition as a Microsoftie took place at our Presse-citron J-1 conference 🙂

  3. Pingback: [INSIDERS] Scality déménage...Roxanne Varza quitte... | FrenchWeb.frFrenchWeb.fr

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