Trending: Microsoft AI chief Harry Shum to depart in February after 23 years at the tech giant
Rico Mariani (Microsoft, via YouTube)

Rico Mariani, a respected engineer who spent more than 28 years at Microsoft, earning the moniker of “perf guy” for his expertise in improving software performance, will be joining Facebook at the social networking giant’s fast-growing Seattle engineering office.

His departure from Microsoft earlier this month was reported previously by VentureBeat, but his destination wasn’t previously reported. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed this week that Mariani is joining the company.

“In a little over a month I’ll start a new and hopefully rewarding adventure at Facebook,” wrote Mariani in a recent Facebook post. “At which point Facebook will truly consume my entire day.” He noted that he had been at Microsoft “just over 28.5 years, more than half my life and certainly a career in itself.”

In a message to GeekWire this morning, Mariani said he’s looking forward to a rejuvenating experience at Facebook, and noted that his precise role is still to be determined. Mariani said he hopes to use his existing skills to contribute to the company right way, but also wants to expand long term beyond his well-known work on software performance.

He explained that sometimes he feels like an actor who has been typecast and says, “Hey I can do drama too!”

Mariani started at Microsoft as a software design engineer in 1988, working on products and technologies including Visual C++, Programmers Workbench and MSN Broadband, before serving in roles such as development manager for Microsoft Sidewalk, chief architect for Visual Studio 2010, partner architect for Microsoft’s Midori project, and ultimately development lead for the Microsoft Edge performance, power and reliability team, according to his LinkedIn bio.

He has also been a longtime mentor and champion for the cause of women in computer science.

Along the way, Mariani has won the respect of Microsoft’s engineers and executive leaders, as reflected in this tweet by Julie Larson-Green, chief experience officer of Microsoft’s Office Products Group, after Mariani announced his departure from the company.

Among other things, Mariani is credited with coining the phrase “pit of success” for software development.

“People had used that turn of phrase before to mean landing in a situation where their own success was awful, but that’s not how I meant it,” he explained in a 2015 blog post.  “What I meant was that that state-of-the art software frameworks were too hard to use, too many potential problems, and it was like having to walk some horribly difficult path to succeed.  I wanted success to be as easy as falling into a great big pit, so that instead of saying ‘gotcha’ us framework developers could say ‘nope, that works too, you win again!’ ”

The high-profile hire is the latest indication of tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Apple reshaping the Seattle region’s tech landscape with fast-growing engineering outposts — providing new options to veteran engineers who might otherwise be reluctant to uproot their lives to move.

Stay tuned for more details on Mariani’s role as they’re available. Here’s a Microsoft video from 2007, featuring Mariani talking about his work at the company.

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