Jason Yormark

Laying Off Microsoft

A little over 5 years ago I packed up the family and we trekked from Chicagoland to Seattle for a new chapter in our lives.  I had been working independently for about 5 years doing web development and internet marketing and doing well enough to support the family with my wife working.  When son #2 came along, she wanted to be a stay at home mom, so I had to close up shop and find something more stable.

There was  no question really when Microsoft offered.  Sure, moving the family from everything we knew to practically the farthest point away we could go in the US was a tough pill to swallow, but I was getting the opportunity to not only work for one of the best companies in the world, but continue to work with digital marketing and be a part of the startup that has now become Microsoft Advertising.

I put in four amazing years with Microsoft Advertising and made life long friends in the process.  It was a tremendous experience, and when I was laid off in May of ’09, it rocked my world.  I never imagined Microsoft would lay anyone off, but the economy had other plans.  The layoffs were never really about saving money, it was just to appease stakeholders.  Hell, Microsoft throws away millions of dollars on everything you could imagine.  But I handled it with grace, dignity and patiently waited as I knew in time as I would eventually find my way back in the halls of Microsoft.

10 months later that’s exactly what happened.  I was back, with a new group, and ecstatic that I survived.  However what I didn’t realize at the time, was that I was back for all the wrong reasons.  I was blinded by fear and the need to take the first chance I got to get back in.  Most people in my situation would probably do the same thing.  When you have a family to take care of, and a stable, well paying opportunity comes along, you jump at it.  Especially in these trying times.  And that’s exactly what I did.

Within a few months I realized quickly that the passion and love I had for working at Microsoft had disappeared.  It was the combination of a few things.  My initial tenure at Microsoft was not a traditional Microsoft experience.  I was working in a much different type of Microsoft.  A start-up atmosphere with lots of transplants across the globe, in the advertising industry.  This is much different then more established parts of the business.  This was a group I thrived in and loved being a part of.  It worked for me and was a fit.  However the 2nd time around, it just was never a good fit personally or professionally.  I was still surrounded by super smart, motivated people, but the role and the business were not a good fit for me.    I’m a marketer and now a social media guy at heart.  I’m a creative soul with an entrepreneurial spirit, and these are not qualities/traits that worked in this role.  I gave it the ‘ol college try, but after 10 months, I was checked out and ready to move on.

Another reason was my growing love of competing technologies and less favorable opinions of the home brew.  I’ve grown to love using the Mac platform for my computing, entertainment and mobile needs.  So much so, that I’ve purged myself of all PC products on the home front (sans Xbox…a true winner in the space).  Plain and simple, I lost my passion for Microsoft and their products and that’s a bad place to be.  It’s near impossible to show up to work everyday excited about what you do when you don’t necessarily believe in what you are doing.  This isn’t a knock on Microsoft, I just find myself more drawn to competing products.  Everyone has their own opinion, but for me, I just couldn’t find myself continuing to work for a company I no longer genuinely loved and endeared.  It wasn’t fair to me or Microsoft.

Finally, I grew tired of the vast layers of process, management and red tape in getting things done at a company the size of Microsoft.  I truly believe that the reason why Microsoft is losing battles against the Googles and Apples of the world is because they get in their own way.  There are thousands of crazy smart people at Microsoft, but unfortunately many of them are buried under layers of process and management that stifle creativity and progress.  Things take forever to get done when they don’t have to.  It’s frustrating to have great ideas and smart choices get stifled for all the wrong reasons.  It’s just not a culture that worked for me anymore.

So now, I move on to the next chapter in my professional life (blog post soon to come on that!).  I would not change anything about my experiences at Microsoft.  They have allowed me to progress my career, meet and work with amazing people, and provide for my family in a way I never have been able to before.

More to come soon!

Jason Yormark
I'm a 20 year veteran of digital marketing & the owner and founder of Socialistics, a social media agency based in Seattle. My spare time is filled with writing, baseball, my boys and everything Seattle has to offer.


  1. Hey Jason, so sorry to hear you are leaving, but you make valid points as an individual who has endured a lot in a short time at a great company. Will you still be around this spring for MCLL baseball?

  2. Congrats!!! I’m a passive fan, more of a listener to your awesome blogs when I get the time during the week. Hope all goes well! A new year, a new start, a new adventure!

    I’m still figuring out my life #geny so hearing yours and other experiences really help drop some knowledge and wisdom in my life. Thanks and Happy New Years!


  3. Much easier to read than your farewell email from Microsoft. 🙂 I love the Mac too and didn’t realize you were self-employed before getting “assimilated”. Best of luck with the new gig. Maybe I’ll see your film at SIFF this spring.

  4. Everything happens for a reason and I think your choices and listening to your inner voice was wise. Even in great companies your time sometimes comes to an end and you have to leave and look for better paths, even if it means taking a risk. The cool thing is that in this industry there are many different good options. Good luck on this new year Jason, thanks for your follow btw.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Felipe. I think leaving a company like Microsoft is a risk no matter what role you take. It definitely took me quite a bit of time to get comfortable with the idea of even doing it.

  5. Couldn’t agree more. You hit the feeling dead on that I think a lot of people there feel. Glad you have the courage to leave and find something better. Good luck with whatever you do in the future.

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