June 2013

American Red Cross and Microsoft Team Up for Kendall Square Blood Drive

The American Red Cross returned to Kendall Square on Monday, June 24 for the second Microsoft sponsored blood drive at the NERD center.

“The American Red Cross relies on the generosity of blood donors to help people in need. Microsoft donors are helping to save lives and their generosity is important in helping us fulfill our mission,” explained the Red Cross Communications Programs Manager.

Blood Donors at the Cantina

Kirsten and George congregated at the canteen after George donated blood.

This generosity was evident at Monday’s blood drive where 27 units of blood were collected and up to 81 lives were potentially saved. Many of Monday’s donors were also eligible to donate double red cells, which are in high demand. While the majority of donors were Microsoft employees, other locals came out to do their part as well.

“It is only a small inconvenience to do something small to help out, and the Red Cross staff are always nice and make the process easy,” shared a local MIT student and veteran blood donor.

Blood drive

John with the American Red Cross brought a friendly energy to the blood drive.

I was even convinced to join in on the action because the staff was so welcoming and informative. While I attended the blood drive only to collect information for this post, I left as a first time blood donor who intends to donate again. I realized first hand, as the Red Cross motto says, “The need is constant. The gratification is instant.” It also didn’t hurt that I was greeted with cookies and a free t-shirt after I donated!

When the Red Cross first set up camp at the NERD center for a blood drive in December 2012, they collected 34 units of life-saving blood. Those 34 units had the potential to help save over 102 lives; with someone needing blood every 2 seconds, that blood and Monday’s blood was much needed.

Because there is such a high demand for blood and blood has a shelf life of only 42 days, I encourage all readers to consider donating. For more information on donation, head to redcrossblood.org and stay tuned for details about the next Microsoft sponsored blood drive.


American Red Cross Logo


The TOYL Awards Are Back!

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce recognized ten deserving young professionals on Tuesday night at the Ten Outstanding Young Leaders (TOYL) Awards.

TOYL Awards

TOYL Awards

The Boston Junior Chamber of Commerce (Boston Jaycees) ran the TOYL Awards for nearly sixty years (1952-2006) to celebrate some of the area’s brightest current and future leaders. Though the Boston Jaycees no longer run the annual awards show, the legacy continues thanks to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce who revived the tradition in 2012.

As a member of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft is pleased to see the awards ceremony return to the city and recognize Boston’s talent. As in the past, ten honorees were chosen this year for their professional, personal, or civic commitment to improving the quality of life in the greater Boston area. This year’s event highlighted young leaders from organizations, such as Deloitte, NECN, The Play Ball Foundation, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital among others.

Microsoft is particularly excited about honoree John Harthorne, Founder and CEO of MassChallenge. MassChallenge is a highly praised startup accelerator and competition designed to connect high-impact startups with the resources they need to succeed. As a founding sponsor of MassChallenge, Microsoft has seen Harthorne’s hard work and dedication first hand.

Sara Spalding, Sr. Director at NERD, expressed the sentiment of many when commenting on Harthorne’s award: “I am thrilled to see John recognized for his outstanding contributions here in the greater Boston area and the innovation economy worldwide. Through MassChallenge, John and his team have built a powerful opportunity engine; the benefit of which we will enjoy for years to come. John is a superhero to entrepreneurs everywhere; MassChallenge helps us all win!”


ProductCamp: The Unconference for Product Professionals

We’ve all signed up for conferences before. Some are inspiring events we look forward to attending while others are work requirements we are less than enthusiastic about. Those that attended ProductCamp Boston 2013 would agree that this “unconference,” organized by and for attendees, was one worth attending again.

Eric Parrish, a ProductCamp participant, expressed this exact sentiment when he tweeted post event: “Always fun to be around such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of product managers! Thanks to all presenters!”


Attendees check in for an exciting day of presentations and networking! Photo Credit: Dana Quigley

Not clear on this whole “unconference” idea yet? Simply put, ProductCamp is a full-day conference organized by members (all volunteers) of the product marketing and management community. By making it a collaborative process, where product professionals can propose and/or run their own sessions, the needs of the product community are better met. While ProductCamp is unique in that attendees shape and manage the event, it also offers traditional sessions and a keynote speaker.


ProductCamp featured over 30 sessions this year. Photo Credit: Dana Quigley

ProductCamp returned to Boston for the sixth time this past May 4 with 30 sessions about product development, marketing, and design, startups, and career development. Microsoft New England served as a repeat platinum sponsor and host to over 300 attendees who inundated the NERD center. Among the many attendees was Dr. Leslie Ament, SVP of research and principal analyst at Hypatia Research Group. She delivered the keynote address entitled “How Big Data & Analytics Fuels Customer Management Excellence.”

To learn more about the topics discussed this year, head to Slideshare where a selection of the presentations are posted.

product camp logo

United Way and Youth Venture Rock the NERD Center

The only thing louder than the music was the cupcakes. On Thursday, June 6, the halls of Microsoft’s NERD Center were zapped with the energy of over 80  young people, gathered together to laud each other’s accomplishments, consume neon frosted baked  goods and prove to anyone watching that the next generation has community on top of mind.

Youth Venture

A Youth Venture groups poses for a fun picture!

It was the annual Youth Venture Celebration, presented by United Way of Massachusetts Bay and  Merrimack Valley, an event designed to herald the achievements of the next wave of social entrepreneurs. Microsoft’s support of youth and innovation made it the perfect venue for the celebration.

“Every time I attend one of these events, I’m hit with the same feeling: amazement,” said Michael Durkin, President and CEO of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “The ingenuity, professionalism and boundless energy of these young people represents a glimpse into what our future holds, and we are proud that our Youth Venture program and volunteers have helped them tap into what’s possible, for themselves and their communities.”

Neon Cupcakes

The neon cupcakes were a huge hit!

Now in its sixth year, Youth Venture provides grants to teams of middle and high school students throughout United Way’s footprint to embark on their own community investments. Whatever issues moves them, whatever vision grabs them, that’s what their venture becomes. The 2013 edition featured 41 teams of youth, hailing from as far south as Dorchester and as far north as Lawrence.

Youth Venture

There was no lack of energy as teams showed off their projects!

It all came together at the Celebration, where the teams showed off their projects, from a community garden initiative designed to mitigate gang activity in Roxbury to the youth-produced, issue-driven public access show in Cambridge. The ventures were varied and unique, but all held one thing in common: they were designed to make the world a better place.

“We want to take out the scare of difference from  our city,” said Leo, a member of the Lynn Youth  Council, which will be putting on a unity festival later in the summer. “We want to unite everybody so  we know who we are and where we are in the same community.”


Guest Post Written by David Johnson, Director of Marketing and Communications of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

Mass Innovation Nights Returns to NERD

Since 2009 Mass Innovation Nights (MIN) has served as a platform for local innovators to showcase their latest products. Held each month at various locations, MIN has helped launch more than 500 new products and has helped companies secure over $600 million in funding.


Agency Spotter, a featured product, showcases their product

On the evening June 10, Microsoft New England welcomed the 51st MIN to the NERD center. During the first hour of the event, attendees networked with old friends and made new connections, while learning about ten featured products. Each of the ten companies headed a display table where they personally interacted with attendees, handed out free swag and product samples, and got the crowd buzzing about their products.

Prior to the event MIN followers voted online for the top four products they wanted to see presented on the big screen to the entire audience. MIN51’s lucky presenters included:

  • Equiso, a features-driven, streaming smart stick
  • FuzzyCover, a fun and fuzzy covering for your Apple products, notebooks, or e-readers
  • Mister Smarty Plants, a crowd-sourced plant identification website
  • Sookbox, a media server that collects all of your media and apps in one place

FuzzyCover presents to the audience

Presenters engaged the crowd with their products, explaining what they do, how they are different from their competitors, and answering questions. Following the presentations, four crowd favorites (voted for via paper ballot by attendees during the event) were awarded Business ExtrAA® points by American Airlines, MIN’s newest sponsor. The lucky winners were Equiso, Mr. Smarty Plants, Delightfully, and TBI Strategies.

The next Mass Innovation Nights will be on July 10 at LogMeIn’s new Boston headquarters. Head to MIN’s website for more event details and to register.

WomenLEAD Recognizes Jennifer Chayes

WomenLEAD, Inc., an organization dedicated to accelerating women’s advancement as leaders, has recognized Jennifer Chayes, Distinguished Scientist and Managing Director of Microsoft Research New England, as a “Woman Who Leads in Technology.”

Jennifer Chayes

Jennifer Chayes

A WomenLEAD blog post announcing the leadership award cites Jennifer’s outstanding professional accomplishments, including cutting-edge research on how the Internet works, author of 25 patents and more than 110 scientific papers, and the first woman to lead Microsoft’s research labs. The award also recognizes Jennifer’s deep commitment to serving as a role model and mentor to women (of all ages) in technology. For example, Jennifer works with DigiGirlz, a Microsoft initiative to encourage female high school students to consider careers in technology, and is on the WomenLEAD advisory board.

According to WomenLEAD’s CEO and Founder Ilene Fischer, “WomenLEAD is committed to honoring women that are in action making a difference for women and girls. It’s an honor to give this much deserved award to Jennifer Chayes.”

Jennifer Chayes is one of 30 recipients of the WomenLEAD award. Other award-winners include:  Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox; Dee Dee Myers, former press secretary to President Clinton, and; Deborah Dean, corporate vice president at Dassault Systemes. WomenLEAD is a Mass Challenge (the largest start-up incubator in the world) 2013 Finalist.

WomenLead Logo

Microsoft Marches in Boston Pride Parade

The 43rd annual Boston Pride Parade, one of the largest in the country, wound its way through the streets of Boston on Saturday, June 8. Microsoft was among the more than 230 groups and 15,000 people that marched in the parade to show support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

Microsoft marchers group photo

Microsoft marchers pose for a group photo before the parade

Matt Feczko, Program Manager and head of Microsoft’s GLEAM (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Employees at Microsoft) organization, spearheaded Microsoft’s participation in the parade, organizing and leading more than 50 employees, friends, and family. Thanks to the planning of Christine Gannon, SMB Cloud Sales Manager and member of GLEAM, Microsoft walkers were decked out in pride swag (t-shirts, wristbands, flags, sunglasses, beach balls, and bags). The crowd welcomed the Microsoft marchers and was thrilled when swag was thrown their way.

Microsoft GLEAM members

Matt Feczko, Christine Gannon, and Dana Zircher lead the Microsoft group

Microsoft participates in the parade to support both the LGBT community and GLEAM, which promotes diversity and creates a feeling of connectedness and community among Microsoft employees. With the success of this year’s Pride Parade, Microsoft looks forward to marching with an even larger group next year. For more pictures, check out our Facebook page.


“Get in the Game” for a Chance to Win

General Assembly, a network of campuses (one right here in Cambridge) that provide individuals with opportunities and education in business, technology, and design, is running a contest with such awesome prizes that we had to share. What are the prizes? General Assembly Logo

Two tickets to a Red Sox Game? Check.

Opportunity to meet Meghan Ryan, Boston Red Sox Social Media Manager? Check.

Personal tours of Boston’s top tech companies including our NERD Center, HubSpot, CoachUp, and Crimson Hexagon? Check.

A yearlong subscription to Front Row, General Assembly’s online class subscription service? Check.

This must-have prize pack will go to one lucky winner (and one guest) of General Assembly’s “Get in the Game” contest, which was designed to bring together two of Boston’s greatest assets: its sports teams and its tech community. We at Microsoft are proud to be a member of this innovative tech community and are excited to showcase our NERD Center to the winner.

Simply visit https://generalassemb.ly/win/get-in-the-game and enter your email address for a chance to win. Want to increase your odds of winning? Share the contest (using the unique URL provided when you enter) with your friends, and you will automatically be entered again. The contest runs June 3-15, and the winner will be announced on June 17th. In the meantime, tweet us about the contest (#getinthegame) and check out General Assembly’s Facebook page for the latest updates.  Good luck and Get in the Game!

Get in the Game Contest

The Foundry to Welcome 40 Summer Interns

Forty college students will arrive at Microsoft New England this week for a second summer Foundry program. After a successful pilot program last year, Microsoft will welcome nearly double the number of students, all eager to improve upon their software development skills and have an unbelievable time while doing so.

Foundry 2013 Students

Foundry 2013 Interns

The NERD center will become home to these developers and designers as they begin 12 weeks of intensive application writing for the Windows phone and Surface tablet. Hailing from 13 schools (including Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Wellesley, Northeastern, Waterloo, UMass, Wheaton, and Wentworth), the students will write applications from start to finish and ship them to the Windows and Window Phone Marketplaces to be downloaded.

The students will work in teams of five under the guidance of Microsoft coaches and industry experts. They will continually practice the process of software development, learning to judge the time it takes to create each feature. The students will also fly to the Redmond campus in July to engage in Microsoft’s Intern Week. In Redmond students will exchange long hours of developing and designing for a surprise signature event (a concert last year), talks and activities with Microsoft leaders, and an insight into what it means to be a Microsoft employee. Sara Spalding, Sr. Director at NERD, shared her impression of last year’s Intern Week: “I was blown away; it was the most exciting event I have been to in my almost 20 years at the company.”

Catch the latest blog updates on Foundry 2013, including a recap of this year’s Intern Week, and check the Windows Marketplace at the end of the summer to discover the newly developed apps and install them on your phone and tablet.