The amateur astronaut behind Word and Excel is making his triumphant return to Microsoft


Charles simonyi Microsoft

Wikimedia Commons

Intentional Software founder and former Microsoft employee Charles Simonyi

Back in 2002, Charles Simonyi left Microsoft after more than two decades - capping a career at the company that saw him oversee the creation of Microsoft Word and Excel, among other flagship products.


Now, 15 years later, Simonyi is making his return to Microsoft, now that the tech titan has announced its intent to acquire his startup Intentional Software. Simonyi and the entire Intentional team will be joining Microsoft at its main Redmond campus. Terms of the deal, including the purchase price, were not disclosed.

"I am excited, stoked, amped, and elated to join forces again with Microsoft, the premier high-tech company in the world," writes Simonyi in a blog post announcing the deal.

Simonyi himself has led an interesting life: In 2007, he became the fifth-ever space tourist, and made a second space trip in 2009 to the International Space Station. In 2015, Forbes estimated his net worth at around $1.4 billion.

In its own words, Intentional Software is "reinventing productivity software to transform how teams work in the modern workplace." While the language is vague, it seems that Intentional is working on new ways to be productive with touchscreen devices like Microsoft's own Surface Book laptops and Surface Hub digital team whiteboard.


charles simonyi ex microsoft space tourist


Simonyi prepares for his first trip into space in 2007.

In its own blog post, Microsoft claims that this deal will "enhance our existing capabilities and strengthen our ability to add new tools and services to Microsoft's robust productivity offering." In his blog post, Simonyi indicates that this deal was two years in the works, after investigations into a partnership turned into an acquisition.

It's all very technical and more than a little bit mysterious, using technology born in a project that Simonyi led at Microsoft Research before he left the company. But Simonyi, at least, seems confident that this acquisition could mean big things for the future of getting work done.

"It will amount to reinventing productivity itself," Simonyi writes. "I am very proud that Intentional technology will serve as a small, but important, part of this effort."

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