Brad Lovering is a veteran of the tech industry in the Seattle region — having worked at Microsoft for more than two decades, rising through the company to join the elite ranks of Microsoft technical fellows. He was known for his work on products including Biztalk Server, .NET, Visual Studio, Windows Communication Foundation and Visual Basic, among other development projects.
But after 24 years, he embarked on a different challenge. Lovering left Microsoft in 2010, and in 2011 he launched the Seattle engineering office for Splunk, the San Francisco-based company that specializes in software to analyze and make sense of large volumes of machine data. Splunk’s Seattle office has since expanded to more than 20 people, and it’s still growing.
His experience has given Lovering a unique perspective on the technology industry. Meet our latest Geek of the Week, and continue reading for his thoughts on big data, the Seattle tech market, Microsoft and more.
What do you do, and what does it mean to you?
Professionally, I make software programs. Personally, my interests are family and I focus on being a husband and father. I love software and I love writing programs and I love working with teams to build great software. I love everything about it and have been fortunate in my career to work on terrific projects and with amazing teams of people.
Lots of people talk about “big data,” but you and your colleagues live it every day. What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field?
I like this term. I think it term captures something very important that is happening in our industry.
I believe we are in the early stages of a disruptive transition on the data tier. There is enormous innovation in the space and I think that will continue for many years. I don’t think that prior technologies disappear but I do think they will be complemented by new technologies and I think that a new architecture is emerging that will enable people to manage and process data at previously unimaginable scale.
I think that developing tools that enable people to transform data into information is one of the fundamental opportunities to deliver software value in our industry and I think it’s one of the most exciting areas of computing right now.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I love writing programs. I love working with teams of people to make programs. I love building things that people love to use and I love building things that I can be proud of. I am fortunate to have a supportive and rewarding family life. Those are the things that are important to me.
You went to work at Microsoft straight out of college and spent more than 20 years there. What has the transition been like for you over the past couple of years?
I love Microsoft and I love Splunk. Microsoft was an incredible experience for me, I got to work on many great projects with truly great people. And now at Splunk, in a very different environment with a very different culture I again get to work on an incredible product with incredible people. The transition was hard, and I expected that. The primary reason I made the change was to challenge myself in a new environment and to experience building software in a different area of our industry. Moving from a place where you were well established to a new place where you are not known is a challenge but has also been rewarding for me and I am proud of the Splunk Seattle office and what we have built here.
What the biggest thing you’ve learned about the Seattle tech community in the process of launching and building the Splunk office here?
Seattle has become a very good place for technology generally. There is lots of opportunity and lots of technical talent in the area, good schools and more companies moving here all the time. Splunk’s philosophy was to find local leadership and establish a long term presence as a part of the fabric of the local community. For myself, as a native, that point of view was attractive to me and I think that mindset has worked very for us. We have good relationships with the folks at Microsoft and work closely with many partners, customers and other local companies and overall find the area a very positive and supportive environment.
What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why?
I use lots of technology and I own a lot of devices. I love my 17” MBP, although will probably upgrade soon to a 15” retina. I am quite attached to my iPad mini. My Lumia 920 is cool, but I could probably live without a phone in general. My kids love their Kindles .. and its impressive how much they get used. I am old enough to remember programming without the internet, but can’t possibly imagine going back to that. But ultimately I write programs and my MBP is both my dev workstation and primary communications device.
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life?
Honesty. My primary tool for managing complexity in my life is to be honest with the people I interact with. The approach can be painful in the short term, but I find it’s the only sane approach over the long term and I can’t bear to spend brain cycles on guile.
Mac, Windows or Linux? Yes.
Kirk, Picard, Janeway or Sisko? Kirk.
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Tough one, probably time machine.
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … I very much doubt I would take 1M to launch a startup. Perhaps to fund growth, depending on context .. but these days there are so many ways to advance an idea without taking lots of money that I am generally averse to the idea unless there is a very specific opportunity to accelerate.
I once waited in line for … A latte. Seriously, I hate lines.
Your role models: I have difficulty with the idea of a role model, although there are people I admire. I admire Bill Gates for his intellect and intensity, for his achievements in software and for moving on to something even bigger and better. I greatly admire Jim Gray, a giant of computing and a warm, wonderful person who was always supportive and generous with his time. There are many others, many people I admire and many people who have achieved things that I admire, but I struggle with the idea of patterning after another person.
Greatest Game In History: I played a lot of Chess when I was younger and my kids are starting to learn, that’s awesomely great.
I played some D&D in my youth and that was pretty great.
I am not a core gamer, but there have been some computer games I have liked. Asheron’s Call was the first time I personally saw an MMO and that had a big impact on me. I had my WoW phase .. a little bit great. And I think Minecraft is awesome ..
There are some sports I like, but I don’t want to have the sport vs. game argument :).
Best Gadget Ever: I tend to get excited about the latest thing … so hard for me to say best ever. The iPad mini is quite impressive.
First computer: TRS-80 Color Computer. I am not particularly sentimental about technology, but sure wish I had held onto that one.
Current phone: Lumia 920, great device .. great little computer.
Favorite app: Evernote.
Favorite hangout: Home. :)
Favorite cause: I give to a variety of causes, mostly to local schools these days, but I can’t claim to be much of a “cause” guy.
Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: Write lots of programs.