My avatar background

The avatar that I use online is one I’ve had since 2008, when it was created for me by a marketing firm as part of VMworld 2008 design and branding.

I think personal branding in the public sphere is important. So when given the opportunity, I always use this avatar (or via Gravatar) as my profile picture – except on more professional platforms like LinkedIn where I use a professional photo, or more personal platforms like Facebook.

I like the simplicity of it – the simple solid colors, basic expression. It’s instantly recognizable, and if someone has seen it before, they remember to associate it with me.

The avatar was made as a cartoon version of myself captured from a video where I’m being interviewed about VMware VDM (which eventually became View, and then Horizon View). The interview segment starts with me as the cartoon and then it morphs in to video footage of me speaking about VDI.

My coworker and I were invited to a private customer beta session at the VMware campus on Hillview Ave in Palo Alto in July 2008 to learn about, use, and give feedback on what would eventually become VMware View, and later, Horizon View. After the beta session, I and a few others participated in the video interview about how we were using VDI.

At the time, I worked for a healthcare organization which was really at the forefront of virtual desktops, having deployed them in 2007 as part of a move to a new hospital campus, including a datacenter relocation. Famously, no PCs were purchased for the majority of the building, rather, thin terminals were placed and we went all-in on VDI on VMware.

2008 was already a busy year for press about the organization’s use of VDI – a VMware press release in February discussed the hospital move and drive towards VDI.

An interview and photo shoot featured us on the cover of Network World Magazine May, 2008 issue.

Finally, I presented details of our VDI deployement at a well-attended West Michigan VMware User Group held at the hospital in a large conference room in November, 2008. At the time, much of the automation was developed in-house and worked quite well, so we were wary of switching to a commercial product.

The video interview at VMware ultimately aired as part of the VMworld 2008 conference kickoff at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas in August, 2008. VMware View was announced at the conference and released in December, 2008.

I could not attend in person but a review of photos taken at the event show the same style used throughout the conference, with many different faces rendered in this simple cartoon format.

The look was created by Emotive Brand which developed the strategy, messaging and design of the VMworld experience for several years including 2008.

Another version was also developed which featured a different shirt and color background.

I alternated between versions for a time before settling on the yellow-background version.

It’s quite convenient to have a go-to avatar for use when needed. I always enjoy finding new places to use it!

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