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Dick Hardt's 'year of darkness' at Microsoft

Microsoft is increasingly coming to grips with open source, but not enough for digital identity expert Dick Hardt to stick around for more than a year.

Microsoft, apparently, is not for everyone. Dick Hardt, the founder and former CEO of Sxip Identity and ActiveState, and a recognized expert on digital identity, is on his way out of Microsoft just 12 short months after going there.

When he left for Microsoft, Hardt argued that he "was recruited to Microsoft because (he is) an independent thinker."

That independence may have collided with Microsoft's company culture. Hardt doesn't go into much detail as to why he left, but describes his year with Microsoft as "the Year of Darkness," presumably referring to his lack of contact with the outside world (minimal blogging, no press interviews, etc.), and not to his colleagues.

On that score, in fact, Hardt says he "met some great people at Microsoft" and that "working at Microsoft was an invaluable experience for first-hand knowledge on how large companies work."

It's apparently not an experience he wants to prolong, however.

And it's one that seems to have had a significant impact on his appearance:

Pictures: Dick Hardt (Compilation: Matt Asay)

From free-wheeling hipster to buttoned-up introvert carrying too many scars? Nah. Hardt's announcement shows he hasn't lost his sense of humor, even if he wasn't able to publicly display it during his Microsoft tenure.

Hardt will be moving to San Francisco. He has not yet revealed where he'll be working next. Perhaps he'll join Don Dodge at Google? Google seems to enjoy scooping up Microsoft refugees, and has long had a penchant for hiring the best and brightest from the open-source world.

Microsoft, for its part, maintains a healthy roster of open-source experts like Tom Hanrahan and Daniel Robbins. But it's a bit worrying that it wasn't able to hold onto Hardt's independent streak. Microsoft could use that these days.