Former Xamarin co-founder Miguel de Icaza is leaving Microsoft

Former Xamarin cofounder Miguel de Icaza is leaving Microsoft, the company he joined through acquisition just over six years ago.

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Well-known open source advocate and developer Miguel de Icaza, who joined Microsoft in 2016 when it acquired Xamarin, the mobile-tool company he cofounded, is leaving Microsoft. De Icaza -- a Microsoft distinguished engineer -- confirmed to me on March 2 that he has decided to leave and will be taking some time off before moving to a new job.

Ever since de Icaza's colleague and former Xamarin CEO Nat Friedman left Microsoft in November 2021, there's been speculation that de Icaza also would leave Microsoft. Friedman was the CEO of Microsoft's GitHub division. Friedman said late last year he had decided to go back to his startup roots.

De Icaza has been with Microsoft for just over six years. Most recently, he has been working on various AI projects with the ONNX team. ONNX, the Open Neural Network Exchange, is an evolving standard format for machine learning models that is being championed by Microsoft, Meta and Amazon. De Icaza worked with the team to get the ONNX runtime on Android and iOS to support mobile developers using Xamarin.

When I asked what he planned to do next, de Icaza told me "I am going to rest while the kids are in school" and later vacation with them.

"Living in this industry is like the kid at the candy store - too many things are happening and there are too many choices. So I want to spend some time sampling some of the candy, and then deciding which one I want to buy a pound of," de Icaza said.

He did say he's about 99 percent sure that he'll be going the startup route.

"If I wanted to work for a big company, I would have stayed here (at Microsoft). It is awesome here," he added. "I learned a lot, it was good, but I do miss the startup world, and building and running a team - which I have not been doing here in this role."

I've asked Microsoft when de Icaza's last day at the company will be and who, if anyone, will replace him. No word back so far.  

Microsoft was rumored to be on the cusp of buying Xamarin in 2014. The appeal was in Xamarin's technology, which allowed developers using Microsoft's C# to write native apps for not just Windows, but also iOS, Android and Mac.  Microsoft actually acquired Xamarin in 2016.

(Thanks to Brad Sams for a heads-up tweet on de Icaza's planned departure.)

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