Leaving Intel / “I will always love you”

“Parting is such sweet sorrow”

Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

I joined my first INTC-owned Legal Entity in September 2011, when I went to work for McAfee, a wholly-owned subsidiary; during a machine vision project at my previous firm that turned out to require “statistical modelling”. I had gotten hooked on a new way of writing software, in which accepting our limitations as human engineers and explicitly using data and induction to form a model of the world allowed us to exceed what was possible with traditional hand-written code. Surely at a huge company like McAfee, I would find more cool problems to work on, maybe even within Intel itself?

Me, appreciating cosy Intel swag

My “career plan” actually worked! I joined a software engineering team at McAfee’s Cork office — with a salary increase that allowed my wife to stay home with our 3rd (& 4th!) children — and started taking online courses in “statistical learning”, then Machine Learning and Deep Learning. I was busy! My big chance came when Anthony Murray helped me build a machine learning proof of concept for an internal product which, shared with the right VP, got me a new job working full-time in Machine Learning for Craig Olinsky — within Intel Security — and some excellent years working with Alex Ott, a pioneer in the production use of machine learning, a truly exceptional technical leader (congrats to DataBricks!).

My next move was a job in “core” Intel, a once-in-a-lifetime chance: Lisa Davis hired me into an “AI for Good” role, working with Bob Rogers and Lisa Thee on Intel’s Safer Children program with amazing partner organisation we had in Thorn and NCMEC, and I’ve written more about that work here.

Intel is everything that I hoped it would be: it is less like joining a company than emigrating to a small but very prosperous country that happens to have amazingly high educational and living standards. Intel has amazing programs to further develop employees, with good career tracks whether you want to go the technical or managerial route. It really is a great place to work - I wear their swag with pride! - and you’ll routinely meet amazing people who are 20-year veterans. Retaining skilled people for that long when the tech market is so hot is a stellar endorsement of any company. They are hiring, massively, and if they will have you, you should join!

In my last few years in Intel, I got to round out the commercial side of my education a little with people like Rick Cnossen and Paolo Narvaez. Simultaneously, I got hooked on the Indie Hackers podcast. When I joined Intel, I told myself I would be there for 2 years before leaving to build my own thing, and that I would only leave for a company where I had a substantial ownership stake.

It has been a little longer than 2 years — 9.5 years, over 3 legal entities! — but I have relinquished my prized Blue Badge; no longer “Ed from Intel”, I’m now “Principal @ Rigr AI”, getting ready to do… “Safer Children”-aligned stuff. It’s a very exciting time, I can’t wait to get building, but, in the words that Dolly Parton wrote for a much sadder business separation, [Intel] “I will always love you”.

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