Retiring as a Microsoft MVP

I have decided to retire from the Microsoft MVP program. In the first week of April, an e-mail from Microsoft landed in my mailbox. I was given the choice to either remain an active MVP (but without access to NDA content) until my next renewal period, or retire from the program.

The choice stemmed from a potential conflict of interest, related to IDE’s. As you may know, I freelance for JetBrains and a few other companies, and it seems that the connection to JetBrains was the issue here. They are a Microsoft partner that builds ReSharper, the most popular plugin for Visual Studio and Rider, a cross-platform IDE for .NET developers. Essentially a company that broadens the .NET ecosystem.

My situation has been like this over the past year and a half, and IDE’s are unrelated to the area of expertise and interest I was in for the MVP program (Azure). Did the email arrive because Microsoft decided that Visual Studio is now competing with its most popular plugin? Did I accidentally joke too much about Visual Studio copying so many ReSharper features? Something else? I’ll never know. I would have preferred more transparency, but I guess it is fine. It’s Microsoft’s program after all.

Long story short: I had two options going forward. One option was to stay in a “diet MVP program”, having only the benefits (an MSDN subscription), but none of the NDA content (which includes team interaction). The other option was to retire from the MVP program, which I decided on.

The true benefit in the MVP program, for me, was being able to have a direct line to the teams and peers, and being able to discuss things that weren’t meant to be public yet. The swag, t-shirts, and the occasional MVP gathering have been nice, but they are not a reason to stay on board (nor should they be!). I’ll miss the free Azure credits for conference demo’s, but I’ll cope.

Another reason is that, while there is indeed an optional NDA, the MVP agreement itself contains similar clauses to the NDA document, making the “diet MVP” a thin line to walk.

A sincere thank you to Tina, our MVP lead, for answering and clarifying the questions I had over the past weeks, and for the work you did during the past years!

While I may temporarily feel a bit demotivated for ticking so many boxes on scorecards by, among other things, reaching over 15,000 people each year with the Global Azure Bootcamp (just two weeks ago!) and then having to settle for “just the title” or getting out, I’m not going on an anti-Microsoft or anti-MVP rant.

Whatever you choose to believe, Microsoft is in the money-making business. They have communities around their products and platforms, and decide on the rules there. I find a divorce for this reason plain stupid, but it’s their rules. It’s their good right to offer me the choice between a “light” version or suggest retiring. I chose the latter because for me, there is no value in that (and as mentioned earlier, there is the thin line in the MVP agreement as well).

I’ve gotten wonderful opportunities, and I’ve met some amazing folks. Some of that has been thanks to being in the MVP program for over 7 years. But a lot of it is because sharing passion for technology results in meeting amazing folks around the world. After all, it’s not about the title.

It’s all about the passion, the technology and the people, and the drive to develop.

Feel free to reach out if you’d like me to come talk at your conference or user group.

Leave a Comment