Friday, January 22, 2010

Goodbye HP, Hello Taodyne

After almost 16 years working for HP, almost half of which on HPVM, I have decided to do something else. Please welcome my new little company, Taodyne, into the fierce world of software development startups. Taodyne is supported and funded by Incubateur PACA-Est.



For me, this is a pretty major change. So it was not an easy decision to make. Leaving behind the HPVM team, in particular, was tough. Still, the decision was the right one for a couple of reasons.
  • First, I had to face the fact that HP is not trying too hard to retain its employees. To be honest, in my case, they actually offered something at the last minute. But it was way too late. The decision had already been made over one year ago. There was no going back, as the creation of the new company commits other people who I could not simply leave behind.

  • However, the primary reason for leaving HP was my desire to invent new stuff, something that I felt was less and less possible at HP. Don't get me wrong, it's still possible to "invent" at HP, but you have to do it on demand, it has to fit in the corporate agenda, to belong to the corporate portfolio. Nobody could invent a totally new business like the Inkjet or the calculator at HP nowadays. Well, at least I could not (and I tried).
The tipping point for me was probably when one of my past managers told me that I should feel content with my contributions to HPVM, that I "had been lucky" to have this as the "high point to my career". That manager probably meant his remark as a compliment. But I personally think sweat had more to do with the success of HPVM than luck, and I'm not sure how to take the "high point part" ("from there, you can only go down"?)

Ultimately, the choice was relatively obvious, if hard to make. Simply put, I didn't have a dream job at HP anymore, nor any hope that things would improve. I was working long hours (meetings from 5PM to 1AM 5 times a week, anyone?), more or less officially had two jobs for only one pay, only to be told year after year that the only way forward was down... I owed it to my family to look for a way out.

So really, for me, HPVM was hopefully not the high point in a career, it was hopefully just one step along the way. Taodyne is the next one. Let's hope I still have something to offer. When we deliver our first product, I hope that you will agree that I took the right decision. In the meantime, please check out our progress on the XLR web site. Update: This entry was shortened compared to the original to remove useless material.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good for you. I can fully relate to your experiences at HP (I came in via EDS and am still looking for a way out!). It is shameful what Mark Hurd and the rest of the executives are getting away with. Best of luck on your new venture!

Anonymous said...

I say, good decision on your part. This only validates that the Technical Career Path that the HP management has been bragging are all b*ullsh*t. They can't keep their valuable talents!

dlh4444 said...

I'm glad you didn't settle for "the best is behind you". I'm sure you'll do great things in Taodyne!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I googled "concept programming" figuring someone had already thought of it. I found your stuff posted on the web in 2002 timeframe, now its good to see more recent work.

So what is the status of XL? Is
anyone really paying attention?
(not that it particularly matters,
but this seems like a difficult but
open field for research).

I am looking for a place to plant my research efforts and concept programming seems like the perfect place if the state-of-the-art could really be improved upon and made more mainstream.

I would like to see programming be done by point-click-drag of concepts such as arithmetic entities, containers, objects, operations, properties, etc. I don't know whether XL is the thing to build on, or maybe Lisp, but that's why you have my interest.

Anyway, my name is Dean Mumme (pronounced "Mummy"). I noticed your interests (Physics, etc.) are similar to mine.

Send me an email at
[e-mail removed after asking author's permission]

So is Taodyne a company for producing XL?

Christophe de Dinechin said...

Hi Dean (not so anonymous :-)

I found your stuff posted on the web in 2002 timeframe, now its good to see more recent work.

My stuff has been on the web since around 2000 on a different site (http://mozart-dev.sourceforge.net). I rebooted the project on http://xlr.sf.net after a major design decision (the parse tree structure now called XL0).

My more recent activity at Taodyne uses XL, so we fix bugs and enhance a few things, but I have less time on the language than I would like. Creating a startup takes an incredible amount of time.

So what is the status of XL? Is
anyone really paying attention?
(not that it particularly matters,
but this seems like a difficult but
open field for research).


As I my brother would say, "the entire world doesn't care". Or rather, people do care to the problem, but they don't realize that I may have found an interesting solution.

I would like to see programming be done by point-click-drag of concepts such as arithmetic entities, containers, objects, operations, properties, etc. I don't know whether XL is the thing to build on, or maybe Lisp, but that's why you have my interest.

Well, I hope that you will be interested by Taodyne is doing when we release it, then...

Let's stay in touch...

Dan T said...

Maybe your bulb should come up with an idea instead of thinking in the void... Read: you need a website for your company, with at least a mission statement. Taodyne web site is just that cute icon (good choice BTW).

I'm surprised you haven't thought up your company with SFBay VCs, and stick to anemic french startup support...

I wonder what's the rate of defection @ HP, if we look at the TechCon'08 attendees, where we met, how many of those brainiacs have jumped ship? For my project there, our rate is 3 out of 4, the last one being in India... I'm now at NetApp, and I see a lot of familar faces, most of them with a big smile, instead of a gray cloud.

Good luck with Taodyne!

Christophe de Dinechin said...

Hi Dan,


Nice to hear back from you!

Maybe your bulb should come up with an idea instead of thinking in the void... Read: you need a website for your company, with at least a mission statement. Taodyne web site is just that cute icon (good choice BTW).

That web site is being designed as we speak. But a company web site is not like a blog. You need to be more careful about what you say and when... As much as that may frustrate friend who'd like to know more :-) The logo is going to change, actually, we are keeping the "cute" logo for the open-source half of what we do.

I'm surprised you haven't thought up your company with SFBay VCs, and stick to anemic french startup support...

A good friend of mine in California who started and sold a few companies once told me that France was the best place to create a company, and that the US were the best place to develop it. I doubted him, but it turns out he may be right. The support for startups in France is anything but "anemic". There's a lot of available funding in France. If/when we need the VCs, we know where to find them, but I'd rather wait until this is mutually beneficial. Why waste their time too early?

I wonder what's the rate of defection @ HP, if we look at the TechCon'08 attendees, where we met, how many of those brainiacs have jumped ship? For my project there, our rate is 3 out of 4, the last one being in India... I'm now at NetApp, and I see a lot of familar faces, most of them with a big smile, instead of a gray cloud.

There are five founders at Taodyne, four of them from HP (myself included). The attrition rate in the US was mitigated by the crisis, but employees won't forget how they were treated during dark times. I believe that the real issue will be for Apotheker to deal with, even if Mark Hurd contributed to most of the bad feelings.

Good luck at NetApp. Have fun!