MessageOne – 2007

An old friend of mine sent me an email:

Subject: Ever hear of MessageOne?

I’m talking with them re: a QA job in Austin.

My boss at Lombardi had worked there, along with some others. So I told him that I had. He seemed dismayed that so many people had left MessageOne. I was impressed that they seemed to have a some openings.

A couple of months later, I got a LinkedIn message from a recruiter, recruiting for Engineering Manager:

I hope this email finds you well. In an office just across 183 from you guys is a dev team in search of a strong manager. Any interest in discussing?

MessageOne made their money providing emergencies notifications for companies. One example: There was a bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis, and they notified thousands of employees for one of their customers information related to it.

From there, we set up some kind of phone screen, where I talked a good talk. I interviewed onsite with the VP of Engineering. He was a big, loud, man. We talked about managing people and managing software process. The subject of baseball came up, and he said, “If we hire you, I will take you to my box at Yankee Stadium for the All-Star game!” Sounded like an interesting signing bonus!

I could have been there!

I then went through another round of interviews. Honestly, I think I was already stressed for how much trouble I was having at Lombardi, and I think it bled through in these interviews. I felt insecure, and nervous.

After a few weeks, the original recruiter sent this to me:

After some long deliberation, we’ve decided to look at some other
candidates. The feeling was that you definitely could rework and drive
process, but there’s a slight culture mismatch.
Thanks again for meeting with us- I know our interview process isn’t the best.
Let me know if I can help you out in the future or if we need to chat further.
Thanks and enjoy your holidays.

I discussed this with my family, and my father had this cogent observation:

I suspect that it’s what you’re experiencing in your present situation.  It never feels like it, but if it doesn’t feel right to them, they did you a favor.

I think it’s a good point.

As for MessageOne, a few months later, Dell bought them. Most of their business was based on Blackberry servers, and of course, Blackberry fell on hard times. I imagine they had to rebuild everything based on push notifications for iOS and Android. Sometime in 2015, they renamed themselves to Aurea. They are still going, but I can’t figure out if they are still owned by Dell or not. I think that it would have been really hard to manage a software team through the tsunami of Blackberry crumbling and iOS and Android emerging, and despite the troubles I had at Lombardi, it was good I did not end up there.

Unknown (Software Development) – 2007

I should have listened to the people recruiting me. I was not happy as a QA Manager at Lombardi, and I didn’t think I was particularly good at it. I got this email from a recruiter who had been pinging me for years. (As a matter of fact, he was the first actual recruiter I had ever talked to):

We are conducting a search for a very exciting company located in Silicon Valley. This company is building exciting, next generation system software.

The company’s founders and CEO are seasoned executives and have served at other successful companies.

The company currently has openings for Technical Leadership and Software Engineers at all levels. As a member you will play an important role building major components of a world-class highly scalable distributed system. You will make critical contributions in both team and individual capacities.

You will thrive in an organization with a strong culture of shared ownership, high-quality, innovation, and rapid development. Critical thinking skills and the ability to learn quickly are more important than specific technical skills or experience in our application domain; this position will not be filled by matching bullet-point technical skills to a rigid set of requirements. However, you will have mastered multiple software technologies and applied them appropriately.

Here is a list of our clients current resource needs:

There are 4 organizations that need people.

The UI group, Applications group, Quality Assurance and The Platform group.

We have listed the needs from the Platform group below allthough (sic) there are many postions in all four groups.

This was followed with a list of positions:

  • 2 kernel/drive engineers
  • 1 usb engineer
  • 1 power management engineer
  • 2 User-space software engineers
  • 1 Java engineer
  • 2 whitebox engineers
  • 1 tools engineer
  • 1 media/audio engineer
  • 1 tools engineer
  • 1 browser engineer

There are no management positions in this list. Looking at my development skills, which were now 8 years out of date, I was probably only qualified for 1 or 2 of these positions. But this is a prime example that the vast majority of tech jobs are for software development positions, and if you can do software development, and you can stay up-to-date on your skills, you can stay employed.

I missed this point in 2007; I told him that I was only interested in management positions.


VMWare – 2007

So, almost a year into Lombardi, I got this email:


My name is _______ _____. I’m recruiting for Vmware’s R & D Engineering team, Monitor-Guest Components, and ran across your website.

A few things first: 1) your children are gorgeous – I especially like the one of your (two-year old daughter) going for a ride in Daddy’s sportcar. :). (and further comments about the various notes about music on my old website)

But the real reason for writing to you is that we’re looking for a strong Windows developer to work on a new project, Windows Debugger Integration, giving the debugger the ability to debug in an enhanced way in virtual machines. This person needs an understanding of processor architecture and low-level Windows kernel internals, including memory management, debugger support, network stack & interrupt architecture. Also they need to be an experienced implementer of Windows-hosted debuggers.

I saw on your resume that you might know people who could be interested. If so, please feel free to share my information with them (and/or your referral of them would also greatly be appreciated!)

She then attached a full, detailed job description, with a list of requirements a mile long. I cannot imagine that there were more than a few dozen people in the world with the necessary experience for the requirements. I knew quite a few debugger people, but I don’t think that they were Windows experts.

But I am really surprised that she is just pumping me for names. It was clear from my resume on my now-defunct personal website that I was not qualified for the position as written. So, she was just getting in touch with me after looking at all of my baby pictures to see if I knew anybody and if I would give her any names out of the kindness of my heart.

In my reply, I made social noises about her comments about my website, and then wrote:

Ooh, I don’t know many people who fit that bill. (A former Apple coworker) works there, right? (Say “Hi” for me). He would not be able to recommend his former debugger engineers because of affiliation with Apple. I would, except that I know that they would not ever want to work on Windows anything ever again. They like the Mac, and they like Linux, and there is not much you could pay them to do anything else.

I then gave her the name of a debugger engineer I knew who was still at Red Hat (who was not likely to want to do the position either), telling her to get his email from the gdb mailing list at the Free Software Foundation site.

If I think of anybody, I’ll let you know.

Looking back on it, I am so glad we have sites like LinkedIn and Indeed to circulate resumes with having to build a website. I am somewhat horrified that this person look at my baby pictures while downloading my resume. Times have changed; those kinds of things are all on Facebook now! (which is creepy on a different level I guess…)

Cognizant Technology Solutions – 2007

Email arrived late one evening:

Found your info on your website. Interested to speak with you re: Lombardi. Not sure if you’re looking for a new opportunity or not, but would like to speak with you anyway. Fwd me a resume in .doc format and let me know of a convenient time to talk.

Signed as a recruiter. Fishing for somebody to shop around. The telephone number they gave was a Concoard/Walnut Creek number, so most likely, the companies he was working for were back in California. I had only been at Lombardi a few months, so I wrote back this short quip:

I am not interested in changing jobs at this time.


I really had not had that much experience yet with recruiters, but I had worked with better ones than this. .doc format? Oh, that’s right, in 2007, it was easy to generate a PDF on a Mac but not on Windows. And most people were on Windows. Giving me some idea of what kind of work it is, where it is located, and oh, I don’t know, THE COMPANY NAME, might make me more amenable to talking.

Of course, often recruiters for startups are not allowed to divulge the company name. I hate that game.

So, no.

Unknown Startup – 2006

About 3 weeks before I was to leave to start my new job in Austin, I got this:

I am a working with a Silicon Valley profitable start-up company that is looking for full-time Software Manager

Our client’s customers are worldwide leaders in wireless, cellular, avionics, military, video entertainment, broadcasting, automotive.  Their breakthrough patented coding technologies are now being implemented as worldwide standards for upcoming communications designs in international standards bodies. Their technology allows for reliable transmission of data on unreliable wireless or wired networks.

Primary Responsibilities
Drives the delivery of embedded software products for IP-based streaming and file delivery applications. Ensures customer success through the delivery of well-designed, flexible, extensible, robust and richly supported software products.

Leveraging past product successes, provides domain expertise in the area of IP-based networking architectures and protocols. Provides technical guidance on multimedia session/transport protocol implementations, limitations, and applications including IP/UDP, RTP/RTCP, firewalls, and performance enhancing proxies.

Works closely with development team to ensure that core technology implementations are highly portable and scalable to a broad range of client and server environments.

Required Skills & Experience
An innovative and technical professional with a proven track record as a technical software manager in the area of IP-based networking protocols. Minimum of 12 years relevant experience, including at least five years experience in a management capacity.

Depth of knowledge in many of the following protocols and technologies: IP/UDP/TCP, NAT/ALG, firewall, VPN, RTP/RTCP, FTP, DHCP, FTP, DiffServ, including a comprehensive knowledge of the architecture, design, development, limitations and use as applied to streaming and file broadcast applications.

Proven technical manager; must have practical, hands-on experience in leading teams in the development of complex multimedia networking solutions. Demonstrated success in the early stages of product development through participation in product and roadmap definitions with product management. Strong project execution skills covering task definition, team mentoring, and recruiting. Demonstrated success in delivering best of breed solutions and ensuring customer success.

Bachelor’s Degree in CS or EE

If you want to apply, reply to this email with your resume.

Well, it’s an engineering manager position, which would have been better than QA, in my experience. However:

  • I was committed to moving to Texas already. House was on the market. New job already lined up.
  • Lots of embedded networking software. Not my strongest muscles as a developer.
  • 12 years of networking software dev as a matter of fact. I had basically zero? 10 years as a general developer, but not networking.
  • 5 years as a manager. I had 3-4 not continuous years as a manager, but only 2 as a dev manager.

I was not qualified for the requirements listed, and I was leaving California anyway.

Some other little things: There is inconsistent punctuation. There are changes in tense and mood in the text. Whoever it was was still trained to type two spaces after a period. And I hate it when they don’t tell you who the company is.

The recruiter left their LinkedIn profile in the email. Ironically, they work at Apple now! Still, I often wonder how recruiters could think that I would be qualified for a position like this when they look at my resume? There is very little overlap in specific skills…