More than six years ago, I graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science and took a job at IBM. Today is my last day. So where am I going next? Good question…
When I was twelve years old, I came home from school one day and decided I wanted to create a video game. I found an application on our home computer called QBASIC and discovered that I could use it to program my game. After a few hours of looking at the built-in help file and scouring the list of commands, I had my first program. Over the next few years, I had an insatiable desire to create. I programmed everything from a 3D basketball shoot-out game to a utility that allowed you to copy large files using multiple floppy disks. I even created my own version of Microsoft Windows (minus the actual operating system) complete with a start menu, control panel, built-in screensavers, and the ability to install other applications.
At this point you should be picturing a little Indian boy with nerdy glasses and a fuzzy mustache. Yes – there was something that kept me glued to that computer. It wasn’t simply the satisfaction of being able to program; it was the opportunity to figure things out and turn ideas into reality. And somehow, over the years, I’ve lost touch with that.
Now don’t get me wrong: These past 6 years of working at IBM were extremely valuable. Working at a large company provided me with a tremendous amount of experience in terms of collaborating with a variety of teams and delivering complex software. I worked on a number of interesting projects and I am very proud of what I accomplished there. I also continue to have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for IBM as a company. That said, I always knew that I was not doing what I really wanted to be doing. I didn’t feel like I was exercising my full potential. And I constantly felt like I was waiting for something big to happen.
So back to the original question. Where am I going next? The answer is nowhere. I am going to start my own software company.
I can’t tell you exactly what my company is going to do because I don’t know yet. Like that 12-year-old kid, I just need to figure it out. Instead of geeky little games and utilities, though, I’m going to search for a real problem and solve it. Don’t expect the next Google or Facebook, or anything remotely close. I just want to create software that has a positive effect on peoples’ lives.
As you can imagine, the decision to leave my job was difficult. I must thank my wife, Varsha, for two reasons: 1) Being incredible in general, 2) Being incredibly supportive. The night before I announced my decision to leave IBM, I asked her if what I am doing is crazy. Her response:
“Yes, but it’s the crazy people who change the world.”
So here I am with the opportunity of a lifetime. To get back to what I love doing. To take control of my own destiny. And to change the world – even if only in some small and immeasurable way.
Wish me luck!