An interview with Kurt Steck, Microsoft’s GM
By Lauren Keyson and Sarah Grieco
Kurt Steck, the general manager for Microsoft, was in midtown last month for the opening of Microsoft’s Reactor, a spacious, clean modern workplace for developers. As the evangelist of audience and platform, he was there to develop Microsoft’s outreach efforts to enable the NY tech community to build their own things on top of their platforms.
Microsoft’s developer experience (DX) involves a global set of programs for startups, seasoned developers, budding student developers, and ISV’s provide support and engage them in many different ways. They have developer evangelists who go out and specifically work with developers and help them figure out how to build on top of Microsoft technologies. Then they help them bring their own ideas to life — to the products and services that they build.
Kurt Steck: We’re here to participate in other technical communities; not just run a Microsoft technical community. Through technical content, technical expertise and facilities like Reactor, we’ll make our TE’s available to support developers, partners and customers who want to come in and get access to all of this. So, it’s office hours or through technical training programs like Hackfest in our facility. We also have subsidiaries around the world from Microsoft; there are teams in every location around the world where Microsoft has sales offices.
Lauren Keyson: How did you get involved with Microsoft?
KS: Well, I started off my career in the wireless industry. I worked for a call center, then for AT&T Wireless when they got purchased by AT&T. Because I was a local “Seattleite”; born and raised in Seattle, I looked for a career change, Microsoft was doing some amazing things. I looked for opportunities and ended up doing several different things from sales jobs and project management to marketing jobs. Most recently I ran the Media Room, a sort of a centralized software platform that helped TELCOS build their own delivery systems to deliver TV services. There was a triple play phenomenon happening with telecom providers and we built a platform to help them do TV deliveries.
LK: Why do you like tech in general? Is this your passion or your hobby?
SK: What I’m excited about from a tech perspective is the business challenges that it presents to the global economic system. Tech does some interesting things and it creates challenging business problems. I come from a sales/marketing background; I’m not really a technologist by trade. I couldn’t sit and code, but I understand the challenges of technology and what the pace of technology is creating in business systems. I try to serve as a bridge between those things: developers who are working to solve and bring these ideas through new technology and then helping people understand how they can go create businesses around them.
LK: Is New York a major technology hub for Microsoft?
SK: New York has always been a big hub for us — I believe that in some ways New York can rival Silicon Valley. There are different focus areas from a technology perspective based on the different types of industries and companies that are here. There’s a focus on commercial services, big banking…every one of these industries has continued to evolve and innovate and are all struggling to figure out how they can take advantage of technology to create a competitive differentiation for themselves. What we’re here to do is help developers bring those ideas to life to support those kinds of industries that exist in NYC.