This will be the most difficult letter I have ever written in my life.
It is with mixed emotions that I have decided to resign from my position as the CTO of Global Gaming for Hewlett-Packard, my last day will be December 1 2010. I’ve struggled with this decision for many months. I have effectively been employed with one job for 20+ years (voodoo+hp) so it is the most difficult move that I have ever made in my life.
I experienced some of the best moments and some of the most challenging moments of my career at HP. It has been an incredible opportunity.
Leaving behind the Voodoo brand is not easy, not because I tattooed the logo on my leg, but because it’s my baby, I started it right out of high school. Over the years with the help of an incredibly talented team we built a company with soul and culture that’s hard to describe, and difficult to replicate. The Voodoo brand became weaved into the fabric of our lives.
Voodoo was once a small company out of Calgary Canada, a city known for its oil & gas and certainly not for technology. I remember our first blockbuster review in Maximum PC; we were awarded a Perfect 10 “Kick-Ass.” I was showing my dad pictures of the beautiful PC we created while he was in the hospital. Unfortunately he missed the review by a few days... He would have been so proud.
Little did we know then we were destined for something much greater. In 2006 an article published in the New York Times entitled “Canadian Innovation Helps HP Stock Rise” shined a spotlight on us that few people expected, and then the snowball effect kicked in. We merged, we invented, we kicked ass, and we had fun, but then things got a little complicated.
It’s tough to reflect on the past without looking towards the future. …before I do that I’d like to reflect upon my career and call a few people out in the process.
I want to thank some of the people who had a direct impact on me personally over the years during the first chapter of my lengthy career in this highly competitive business.
To the Fans of Voodoo
You guys have been carrying our torch for over a decade and have helped Voodoo evolve and grow. I appreciate everything you have done for the team and for me personally. I still have the picture of Greg Z holding his new Voodoo Envy in a baby blanket on my desk as a reminder of how important the customer experience is. Voodoo was truly a unique company, and it has been my humble honor to have all of you as customers and evangelists.
Thanks to all of our Partners at AMD ATI, Intel, Microsoft, and especially Nvidia
You’re all great! Voodoo was a strategic partner of AMD, ATI, Intel, and Nvidia from the beginning. Both AMD and Nvidia deserve special mention for many reasons.
Nvidia helped us when we most needed it, and they took our abuse when they most deserved it. Without a fireball like Nvidia in the industry gaming would be really boring. Many don’t know this, but we dedicated our R&D room at Voodoo HQ in Calgary in memory of Brian Winslow from Nvidia. When Nvidia acquired 3DFX, instead of reviving their “Voodoo” brand they sidelined it to avoid confusion….which reminds me, I think it would be really neat to see Nvidia create an ultra-silent, slim GeForce GTX 599 Voodoo as a special edition card.
We partnered with AMD way back during the competitive 386DX-40 days. Over the years they helped Voodoo by giving us early access to Athlon and early access to new hardware. AMD helped us build our strategy and even took me along to a few customer trips so I could meet some of their other customers and partners. My friends at AMD got me interested in bike riding which changed my life forever.
I have built many lifelong friends at both AMD and Nvidia, you all know who you are, and I appreciate each and every thing you did and didn’t do for us.
To some of our Competitors in the Boutique Space
We had a number of competitors in this space, we watched many blow up along the way. When the economy collapsed in the early 2000's, Alienware, Falcon-NW, and Voodoo were still fighting the good fight. I’d like to thank both of these companies for keeping us on our toes, it was incredibly fun competing with you as we brought the heat from Canada.
To our Friends in the Media
I want to personally thank Greg Vederman, Will Smith, Logan Decker, Loyd Case, Kristen Salvatore, Josh Norem, Gordon Mah Ung, Jon Phillips, Brian Lam, Joel Santo Domingo, Darren Gladstone, and of course Wil O’Neal. You all gave us a chance when no one else would. You recognized the difference in our designs and ideas, and in many ways you all helped to shape us into a better company. I can’t thank you enough for all the years of encouragement, support, awards, and critiques.
To the Palm webOS Community
Your loyalty and dedication is truly inspiring. Many companies are just starting to understand the value of communities and the impact they can have on brand awareness and the bottom line. Very few companies are lucky enough to have a grassroots movement evangelizing their brand. HP Palm should be proud to have you as vocal critics and evangelists. I’m a big fan of webOS; I think Palm did some amazing things in a very short period of time. Your community reminds me of the old Voodoo community. I want to thank you for inspiring me with your thoughts, passion, loyalty, and camaraderie. I hope you will still allow me to participate in your discussions.
To everyone I worked with, our team, and all the life-long friends made along the way at HP Voodoo
It’s hard to single people out since we started so long ago and there were so many great people on our team. Many of us grew up together, relationships were created, and some people left and some came back for more. Voodoo became one of the coolest small companies to work for. Once we started down the road with HP we added a bunch of like-minded individuals to our team, it was like we had worked together for decades.
I want to wish each and every one of you great success in your lives and careers. I had a ton of fun working with you – you all have so much to be proud of.
Our team, which consisted of both HP and Voodoo people, was like a group of pirates (Jack Sparrow, not Somali) looking to change the waters and disrupt the industry. We made a significant visible impact on HP since Voodoo was acquired in 2006. As many people have reflected, we brought an indescribable edge to HP; we helped to bring “cool” back to HP. We helped change the way the company thinks about design and consumer experiences and most recently received the Computer of the Year award from WIRED for the Envy 14. It shall be a strong reminder of our Voodoo roots each time HP releases a new HP ENVY device.
Wherever you are, don’t forget our accomplishments which you helped to create, and remember the legacy that we leave behind at HP. You’re all “mavericks” in my book!
You are my rock, my best friend, and the one who inspired the decision for me to go out and start something great. I love you and the kids very much!
People who know me best know that I’m not satisfied collecting a paycheck unless I am making a remarkable difference. I can’t wait to be directly involved in a product pipeline again. Nothing motivates me more than when I’m empowered to make big bets and help to create awesome products just as we did throughout most of my career.
So with that, thank you all for your support and understanding as I help to navigate to the next chapter of our lives. Since I can’t take my “voodoopc.com” email with me you may reach me on Facebook or Twitter @rahulsood.
Best wishes to all of you! I will be back… soon…
Founder & President of Voodoo PC
Former CTO HP Global Gaming