Not having the words is a bad place to be in my line of work.

But I don't have the words to write this column. My fellow columnist Scott Herhold has always counseled that when you don't know what to write, turn to the news. So, the news: After 28 years of writing for the San Jose Mercury News, I'm leaving this news organization for a new career.

Looking to Herhold for advice reminds me of how much I've learned at this place and how many people have taught me those lessons. My colleagues are bright, generous, dedicated and indefatigable in bringing you the news you need to know, as well as the stories that you might simply enjoy.

Every day working with them has been a privilege.

Maybe it's not that I don't have the words. Maybe it's that I don't have enough words to write about all I've done here and all it's meant to me. Or maybe it's that I don't know where to begin in writing about the end.

So, back to the news: I wish it was a little more exciting. No great scandal here, I'm afraid. I just figure that every 28 years or so, you should shake it up a little. Call me restless.

I'm moving on to a tech startup where I'll write stories and produce videos about the fields it works in and about tech culture in general. (You'll likely encounter my byline in this newspaper a few more times, as a long-term project that I worked on this year is rolled out.)

Maybe my move was inevitable. I have been writing about Silicon Valley since before Google, Facebook and Twitter -- since the days that nobody talked about how unstoppable Apple was and everybody talked about how the company would certainly go out of business any minute. The valley's culture has always fascinated me. And more than that, there are the people; people willing to make big bets on themselves; people who figure they just might be the smartest person in the room and if not, maybe they can outwork whoever that person is.

Yes, losers outnumber winners in Silicon Valley, but there is a certain energy in the trying. And the truth is, the valley is as much about reinvention as it is about invention. And so, I'm reinventing myself.

Not a major overhaul, mind you, but I will be entering a foreign world that I've only visited as a correspondent. Then again, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect when I moved from north Florida to Santa Clara County to come to work for the Bay Area's Best.

And as I sat down recently and listed for an internal memo some of my experiences at this paper, it was evident that it would be impossible for anybody starting out at a newspaper to know exactly what to expect. My years here began as a blur of city council meetings, house fires, floods, a couple of World Series, a Super Bowl, a ride on a rodeo bull and a Hawaiian hurricane.

From there I turned my gaze to Silicon Valley, which was beginning to ride the dot-com boom up to new heights. I met Yahoo's David Filo and Jerry Yang when they were founders in stocking feet, eating burritos and occasionally sleeping under their desks. I talked to Google guys Sergey Brin and Larry Page as they sat on exercise balls and explained their plan to hire the small company's first chef and first masseur.

I covered some of the boardroom and courtroom drama at Hewlett-Packard in the Carly Fiorina era and chronicled the pain of layoffs and foreclosures brought on by the dot-com bust and later by the recession.

I met a huge number of so-called ordinary people, who it turned out had some fairly extraordinary ideas about what technology could do for them, or for others, including the most extraordinary of all: Myra Jodie, a middle-school girl on the Navajo Reservation, who had no phone, but won an Internet-ready iMac. The irony of her prize helped bring attention to the digital chasm in our country and earned her a chance to meet the president of the United States.

Of course, there would have been no point in writing any of it, if it had not been for you being there to read it. I can't thank you enough for not only reading my column, but for sending along your thoughts -- sometimes brutal, sometimes heartwarming, almost always genuine.

A columnist can't ask for anything more than that. Except maybe to have just the right thing to say, even when the words to say it are hard to come by.

Contact Mike Cassidy at 408-859-5325. Follow him at Twitter.com/mikecassidy.