Farewell to Riverbed (So long and thanks for all the bits!)

I've spent the past four and a half years of my professional life working on reverse engineering and accelerating the Microsoft Exchange email protocol for Riverbed Technology, Inc. It's been a maddening journey, and it finally comes to a close this Friday, as I have accepted a position with the Tor Project starting January 1st. What follows is my farewell email to the company. I somewhat regret not documenting the exploits alluded to in this email better outside of various Riverbed email lists. Maybe someday when the statute of limitations is up I'll declassify them and post them retroactively here.

Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2008 16:50:33 -0800
From: Mike Perry
To: eng
Subject: So long and thanks for all the bits!

As most of you now know, this Friday is my last day at Riverbed. I've accepted a position at the Tor Project, a non-profit organization that provides open source software and maintains a volunteer-run distributed relay network for online privacy, anonymity and censorship resistance. For those unfamiliar, see https://www.torproject.org/30seconds.html.en and https://www.torproject.org/torusers.html.en.

The project has just recently received additional funding, enabling them to fund my work on network scanning for malicious and malfunctioning nodes, load balancing and performance improvements, and improving and maintaining the privacy-enhanced Torbutton Firefox extension.

I've been volunteering for the project for several years now laying the groundwork for those components, and I feel this is a onetime opportunity to help reestablish the right to privacy online and in general, and to demonstrate the futility and wrong-headedness of any network-based attempts at censorship. Privacy may be dead, but like the good folks at Alcor, I believe that we can develop the technology to thaw it out, repair the damage, and reintroduce it among the living. I intend to do all I can to help develop the technology to do so.

Not to mention that I will continue to be a thorn in the side of those competitors of ours who have seen fit to enter the network-based censorship market and place themselves decidedly on the wrong side of history.

I've been told by a few people that the middle of a deep recession/beginning of a depression is probably not the best time to leave your job.. But what the hell, I have a penchant for rolling out into hurricanes. Sometimes you just gotta feel the wind in your hair, you know?

To make things interesting, the project only has guaranteed funding for my position for a year. I've arranged it so that my departure is technically a leave of absence so if I either feel my work is done, or the project loses funding, or all the developers whose physical locations can be determined are assassinated, I can still come back.

Even still, leaving Riverbed even if it ends up being temporary is bittersweet. It's been a great ride these past 4.5 years, and I will definitely miss the people here.

I still remember my interview. The plane I was on out of Urbana was delayed for 12 hours due to snow storms, forcing me to leave the airport and drive back at 4am on the morning of the interview. Then, as that 5am flight was hurtling down the runway, it suddenly came to a halt instead of taking off. The pilot then informed us that his altimeter had just failed, and they needed to repair that. Another hour of delay, and I finally took off in order to just barely make it in to the interview by about noon, setting the precedent for my work schedule thereafter.

That day, the company was just opening the suite across the hall on the 3rd floor of our 501 2nd St office and was celebrating with a beer bash. I said hello to a less than sober looking (yet still diligently working) Jerry K and I knew instantly this was the place for me. I then had Bart take me out for sushi.

The parties haven't disappointed either. What little I do remember is the source of many fond memories and so many great stories: Duels with traffic cones, chicken suicide frame-ups, puking in office trashcans, projectile vomiting towards the third rail on BART, quixotic lawsuits against thieving airlines, driving coworkers to get vasectomies, receiving pictures of said vasectomies in progress, hearing stories about unprovoked fights with trannies, all sorts of fun on the 501 2nd Street roof, 18 months of heartburn after eating Indian food daily for 9 in our endurance lunch contest, ridiculous amounts of surreptitiously obtained Christmas party drink tokens, booing shitty gospel choirs, and way more hungover customer visits than I should admit to over the email system of a publicly traded company... We sure know how to party. If there's one good thing about my departure, it's that our insurance premiums should go down quite a bit.

But seriously, being part of a company that has established and maintained its position as the best in the world in the face of fierce, well funded, and often anti-competitive competition has been an experience I won't forget.

A few people have been asking what's going to happen with MAPI and the revolutionary HyperDiamond(tm) design pattern I invented to track Outlook's nasty habit of jumping context between multiple TCP connections.

Have no fear! It's been left in the more than capable hands of Thom "CrazyMan Jr." Van Os and Prashant Wason. I've done 4 two hour code reviews with them, and they have begun the process of becoming one with Codethulu. Like Austin Kurahone's departure 2 years before mine, it should now only be a matter of time before they've completely lost their minds as well.

Should I vanish from the face of the Earth for any number of reasons, I wish you all the best of luck, and may the Pyramids of Power never fall.

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