Today, June 3, we are celebrating the 5th birthday of Bing! The home page, with its signature daily image and information, delights millions of people every day. The photography and its functionality reflect a partnership of editorial and engineering, in sync.
At the center of this collaboration is Program Manager Sage Kitamorn, who oversees the engineering aspects of the Bing home page. Managing Editor Kristin Dean selects the photo du jour. Sage and his team work on a constantly evolving platform and set of features:
- The home page and how it appears on different devices
- The “carousel” at the bottom, including an ever-changing set of trending topics
- Integration with Cortana: allowing users to add personalized interests/tiles to the carousel
- Ways to let people explore the daily image, such as the “hot spots,” the small squares that reveal more information
Sage says this is the best job he’s ever had. Here are four reasons why—and how he landed the role:
1. He gets to work with all parts of his brain.
About five years ago, Sage was painting an apartment. When he was choosing the colors, he discovered he loved the process of considering the mood he wanted to create in each space. That experience led him to seek that kind of fulfillment in his job – a position that could satisfy both the creative and technical aspects of his personality. “I realized that on top of being an engineer and making things better, I could tap into a part of me that loved creating feelings. When you build or produce anything, you can affect the way people feel, in a positive way.”
2. He feels an emotional connection with customers.
“Our vision for Bing is for it to be beautiful, helpful and human,” Sage says. “I get to be an engineer, which I love, but the differentiator is that emphasis.” To make sure the home page is meeting customers’ needs, the team experiments with new features and relies on qualitative and quantitative data to assess success. For instance, Sage’s team receives a lot of response from customers through the feedback tool in the right hand corner of the home page. “Users are not shy about telling us how they feel about changes,” Sage says. User input is a point of pride, because commentary means people are coming to Bing and using it. Sage explains, “We want to know what people care about so we can give them more of what they love.”
3. The dream job found him.
Sage came to Microsoft as a college hire. He earned a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Texas, where he played trombone in the Texas Longhorn Band. During his first five years at Microsoft, Sage was in the Office group, in Office SharePoint Server on Enterprise Search. When Sage decided he was ready for a new challenge, he looked around the company to see what sparked his interest. He reached out to his network, had a lot of coffee chats, and met many people who loved their jobs in Bing. He joined Bing in 2010, and has worked on four different projects, the last of which was working on Bing Search Results – the user experience framework for how that page is constructed. When the opportunity came to join the home page team, Sage was not actively looking for a new project. “The leadership of this team and my prior team are close,” Sage says, “and I’ve had some great managers who have been allies in my career.” In a 1:1 meeting, his manager said, “There is a team that wants to steal you. Normally, I would tell them to take a hike, but this might be such a good role for you that I think you should consider it.
4. He can’t play favorites.
Asked what’s been his favorite home page photo so far, Sage laughs. “That’s like saying, ‘Which among your kids is your favorite child?’” Outside of work, Sage doesn’t have kids, but he shares the sentiment. In response, he says, “My favorite feature is the one we haven’t shipped yet.”
Every day, Sage looks forward to engaging in the sweet spot between engineering and customer delight. He loves anticipating and satisfying the needs people have when they come to the home page. Whether it’s a bit of beauty to start the day, or a tidbit of daily news for chat at the water cooler, Bing boosts people’s quality of life.
Summing up his contribution, Sage says, “The job I have is a treasure.”
If you’re someone who loves the latest tech and has a creative bent, you’ll find both-sides-of-the-brain roles on Microsoft Careers, our global jobs site.