Butterflies vs. Inukshuks

The past few days have been spent agonizing over a decision that will have huge implications for the next few years. Right now I have two amazing job offers – one from Business Objects in Vancouver and one from Microsoft in Redmond. I know I’d be happy with either, but I have drastically different reasons for wanting each job.

MSN Butterfly LadiesFor Microsoft, the draw is the team and product they’re working on. The team is building what could be the next big thing to come out of Microsoft, or it could be Microsoft’s next big flop (they don’t have the best track record with new tech). Either way, it’s an exciting young team and a challenging job. It’s tough to explain how cool the product is without giving away details, but I’ve been dreaming about it since I saw it at TechFest a year ago.

englishbay26For Business Objects, the big draw is Vancouver and the lifestyle. Vancouver really represents what I believe in – environmentally friendly, socially conscious, athletic, relaxed. And Business Objects is in everyway a Vancouver-based company – most people walk, bike, or transit to work; they have fresh fruit available every morning with a donation that goes to school lunch programs; after work a lot of people head to the nearby beach or Stanley Park to play ultimate frisbee or beach volleyball; and every employee gets one paid day a year to volunteer with a charity.

Microsoft Business Objects Advantage
Location Seattle – close to mountains, cheaper Amazing. Green space, public transit, mountains, beaches, Olympics BOBJ
Morally I would have to move to the USA Environmentally friendly and socially conscious, Canadian BOBJ
Technology The product could be next big thing (or a huge flop) Work is average MSFT
Challenge Testing, new UI, big expectations Development, coding, server-side MSFT
Work Environment Really motivated, young, dynamic team. Private office (negative) Friendly, easygoing team. Funky open cubicles.
Pay & Benefits More money + stock options + gym + 3 wks holidays + loads more Good money + gym + 3 wks holidays MSFT
Social Activities I might bike to work. Camping. Clubbing. Football and baseball games Bike to work, beach volleyball, ultimate frisbee, hiking, curling, snowboarding. Canucks games. BOBJ
Career Development Resume padding, testing skills, new technologies, save money, contacts Development, back end tech, Java, contacts MSFT

Microsoft really appeals to the inner nerd in me; Business Objects appeals to the environmentalist and responsible Canadian. I wasn’t even going to interview with Microsoft but after much prodding from Lorrissa and Stacey I agreed. If the offer had come from any other group (Office, MSN Search, etc), I probably would have no problem giving it up. But as it stands, the Microsoft offer is like forbidden fruit. It just looks so cool and juicy, but I’m afraid it’s not good for me. While Business Objects is like a whole-wheat bun. Solid, versatile, and healthy, but nothing really to excite the passions.

Really the debate has pitted the group at Microsoft against Vancouver, because those are the tantalizing parts of each offer. Right now, I’m leaning towards Business Objects. Microsoft has done a great job selling their job, but lately I can’t help but think MSFT is a temptation that I have to avoid. The spandex clad butterfly offering candy and toys and technology to feed my nerd appetite.

Am I thinking clearly, or is my decision process warped? Should I go for the cool tech or the cool city? Any thoughts?


  1. You know I’m going to say cool tech… Perhaps in 10 years every reasonably affluent Y will have X or an X clone in their Z. Wouldn’t you want to have helped build that? (Of course, perhaps it won’t be so successful, but you could learn a lot building it anyway)
    MSFT will pay any charity you work for (not you, but rather the charity) $17/hour for your time… They will also match your charitable donations via the give campaign up to $10,000/year. This is new as of last October I
    believe. Last fall, Microsoft employees donated $60 million under this program (with 2/3 participation) for the highest per employee charitable contributions of any U.S. Corporation.
    You could also use either of your floating holidays to take a charity day at some point during the year. I do think it’s cool that BO specifically allocates that time for charity work though, as it probably encourages higher volunteer participation.
    I understand the Vancouver love, but Seattle is a pretty nice city too. πŸ™‚


  2. mircohard
    It would be cool if you got to work on the touchlight project at microsoft. Frankly they stole the idea from minority report and I’m pretty sure tom cruise already owns the rights to it. I see a huge legal battle in microsofts future. It would also be okay if you got to work on one of there many other UI’s involving interactive surfaces and such on….but it’s no touchlight.


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