Architect on Cortana team leaves for Facebook last year, comes back

Kareem Anderson

Sometimes, taking a step back from a project can offer insight that otherwise might have been obscured by proximity, passion, or overwhelming workload associated with the decision in question. For a former Cortana architect, his time spent at Facebook apparently offered that much-needed insight into his work with Cortana, because, after only a year, Microsoft is welcoming him back with open arms to the Cortana group.

Savas Parastatidis used his personal website and Twitter handle @savasp to write a semi-love letter to his former employer describing his appreciation to be back within Microsoft and working with his old group of colleagues on Cortana. Without demeaning or spotlighting any shortcomings of the Facebook organization, Parastatidis offers a bit of insight into his decision to return to Microsoft to work with its blossoming digital personal assistant software.

Facebook is a unique organization, with an extraordinary culture. The engineering infrastructure is unbelievable, and it enables developers to move really fast. I loved it. I met some great people there.

Even though I was having fun, I did miss the great team responsible for Cortana and Mike Calcagno’s leadership. So when Mike, Marcus, Jon, and Amit took me out for dinner few weeks ago and asked me to return home in order to do even crazier things with Cortana, I couldn’t resist. So… back at Microsoft… starting Tuesday, May 17th.”

Aside from his news on returning to the Cortana group, it’s also interesting to hear Parastatidis mention Facebook’s work on a new Conversational Understanding and Task Completion platform. While not exactly a direct Cortana, Google Now, or Siri competitor, Facebook looks to be preparing for the digital assistant wars with its own in-house ammunition.

It will be interesting to see what Parastatidis left Facebook for, to work for a team he had previously left, and what it means for Cortana’s development going forward.