Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Locked Doors, Martin Taylor, MarkZ, and Links

I parked my car, grabbed my stuff, and went to the usual entrance to my building. I waved my badge, waiting for the prompt click! that unlocks the door.

No click.

Uh-oh.

Wave. No click. Wave. No click. Wave. No click.

Okaaaay... I figured at that point a fifth attempt wasn't going to improve the chances of a click. 'It looks like,' I thought, 'I've got some serious 'splaining to do...'

I took a deep breath and headed for the high-traffic entrance. As long as you have something that looks like a blue badge you're going to get inside Microsoft, click or no click. As I walked towards my office, I took a peek around the corner. Men in black? Nope. Able to log-in? Yes. Email working? No! Oh wait, the wi-fi is off... okay, email working, yes. Greasy haired geek with a nervous tic? No. Whew, looks like I dodged one and went to work for another day.

Unlike Martin Taylor. What the heck happened? I have no idea. Perhaps a black SUV screeched to a halt in front of him and a tanned and serious Ken DiPietro threw open a back passenger door, grimly saying, "Get in. We have much to discuss." Poof. All I can say, without knowing what third rail Mr. Taylor might have danced on, someone is most likely going to do it again and not know how serious the implications are...

Another exit I didn't notice: Mark Zbikowski (MarkZ) has left Microsoft, too, as of June 9th, according to Wikipedia. People here in the comments noticed him missing from the GAL. Dynamic references to NTDEV\MarkZ have started 404'ing inside. Hmm... maybe our mini-mizing has finally started... in a silent, scary, horror-movie sort of way.

Other going ons:

  • Awakening Microsoft by Jason Kirby touches on the Microsoft stock price. Are employees motivated by the stock price? Do you pay attention to it? Do you wish it would go up vs. staying flat or, as of late, plunging? Duh? Will employees speak with one voice soon to say (perhaps even wear buttons to the Company Meeting): It's the stock price, stupid. Can the financial investors and employees team up to convince executive leadership to start making moves to raise the shares and commit to a plan that will succeed at that?
  • Microsoft Declares Quarterly Dividend Financial News - Yahoo! Finance - one approach to improve the stock price and investor confidence that we've heard over and over: a consistently bigger dividend than nine whole pennies.
  • The Seattle Times Business & Technology Microsoft will stay the course - hey, chops to Brier Dudley for interviewing Ballmer and Gates and actually bringing up the issues discussed here, vs. throwing softball lifestyle questions. Kudos, Brier. Somehow I've missed Brier's blog - I'm a subscriber now.
  • Ballmer ain't goin' nowhere! - Jun. 19, 2006 - hmm, do we need to start taking bets on departure dates? I really had no clue how deeply connected BillG and SteveB are until I sat in on the Town Hall where BillG explained his decision to move on in 2008. That internal video of them going off to play and goof-off during work is beginning to make more sense to me...
  • Microsoft Developer Unloads On The Vista Process - was listed on Wednesday's internal Microsoft Daily News summary email. Praise be to Phil- oh wait, let me check to make sure the post is still there... yes, it is. Okay. Praise be to Philip!

141 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Martin got fired.

Maybe he can sue for sexual harassment for being made to dress up like Princess Leia in last years Star Wars spoof.

Anonymous said...

Wave. No click. Wave. No click. Wave. No click.

I'm sure at this moment HR and security are looking through the door logs to see which card had four failures this morning.

Anonymous said...

We really need to tell MonkeyBoy that we, the employees, care about the stock price. I am very skeptical that wearing buttons at the company meeting (or something along those lines) will work. Well, it will work but I doubt if anyone will wear them.

I mean nobody even raised their hands when ChairThrower asked how many people use Google! And we all know that thats a complete lie - check out this Slashdot article: http://it.slashdot.org/it/06/06/22/029243.shtml.

An excerpt:80% of incoming search requests from Microsoft's domain arrived via Google's search engine. In contrast, 64% of Yahoo! staff and 100% of Google staff use their own company's search engine.

Steven said...

I have a gut feeling that with the change over that is happening (Gates taking a holiday and Ozzie spiffin' up his power suit) we have only begun to see the management bloodbath that is going to occur.

Anonymous said...

A request to all ex-Softies who post here and who are happy with their new gig.

Please leave the name of your company at the end of your post. It will serve two useful purposes:-

a. Give exposure to your company and maybe attract some good resumes from MSFT.

b. Help the cause of Mini-Msft by showing some options out there to unhappy employees.

irate_shareholder said...

MartinT what happened bro?? Total bummer, unlike Ken whatsisname. BTW, Mini, did you notice that some managers in HR now have Business Managers??!!

As for Steveb - dude, either step down or GET THIS SHARE PRICE MOVING. GET A FRICKIN CLUE!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure all that Google search traffic has nothing to do with MSN Search routinely returning about 30% of Google's hits. The traffic is just the folks in the search division benchmarking their new-and-improved-and-superior-to-Google search engine. It's sure to be released any day now and lift the stock price sky high. Those SPSA-holding partners will make a mint.

Anonymous said...

What, exactly, did Taylor do for Microsoft? I was never really sure--just envious of his job while at the same time a little concerned that this was the guy that was supposed to help us win the battle with Linux.

Anonymous said...

I mean nobody even raised their hands when ChairThrower asked how many people use Google!

Maybe Minkeyboy (yes, Minkey..that is what I said) is practicng to be a future WWE wrestler.

Anonymous said...

Wearing buttons to company meeting? That's too proactive. Here is a passive way to let senior management know your discontent: simply not attending the meeting.

Anonymous said...

The only reason I'm keeping an eye on job openings outside MS is the stock price. I'm doing well, like my manager, etc, but I'd like some upside dammit! Will I leave? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on what I see. But if the stock were going up I wouldn't even be looking.

rayted32 said...

Mundie - Ozzie relationship comes off as sibling rivalry. Ray, the confident big brother returning from college and Craig, the younger son who had dad's ear while Ray was gone.

Ray talks results, Craig, relationship with Bill.

May I suggest that, in order for that team to work, they go shoot hoops in the driveway and make up their minds that it's results that count and not pleasing...dad.

Anonymous said...

martin was taken out ... there is a huge story here.

Dig.

Anonymous said...

A request to all ex-Softies who post here and who are happy with their new gig.

Please leave the name of your company at the end of your post.


CITRIX. Ships once a year, stock price went up $12 in six months. Small teams, big results, no program managers.

Anonymous said...

"All I can say, without knowing what third rail Mr. Taylor might have danced on, someone is most likely going to do it again and not know how serious the implications are..."

If it wasn't for business reasons, I'm guessing that the transgression was sufficiently obvious to all that it didn't require a public airing.

Anonymous said...

1 black executive too many I guess

Microsoft doesn't seem to have many black corporate vice presidents over its history.

Anonymous said...

I thought Martin was fired because he turned out to be Mini:)

Anonymous said...

Can it be that MarkZ left because it was overlooked in the new management schema?

Anonymous said...

Buttons with "it's the stock price, stupid" won't get attention.

T-shirts, on the other hand...

http://www.cafepress.com/minimsft/

Anonymous said...

agree. he did something very bad or something very bad was done to him.

thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Martin was a GM in Carribean for a few years. That probably means he didn't do anything substantial for a few years. He was basically resting and vesting. A good rift, IMO!

Anonymous said...

there goes the Martin = mini theory - must have been a whole lot worst than that! keep your head down mini - its every mouse for itself now by the looks of it - beware of strangers saying cheese :(

Anonymous said...

During a recent meeting, a VP more or less said, "we've all seen enough of those emails to know why someone left". Taylor was obviously fired.

The VP feigned ignorance, but most of us in the room figured he/she knew why but smartly wasn't going to say a word.

Given what it takes to get let go from this place, my guess he did something real stupid.

Anonymous said...

Phil Condit's mantra at Boeing was "Managing for share value". This continued with Stonecipher.

And now, Microsoft also seems to be swept up in the "managing for share value" myth.

WTF? Is it the water in Seattle?

The fact is, you cannot directly manage for share value. When you try to manage a company in that frame, more often than not, a series of unfortunate attitudes develop and the share value trends down.

Great products, great management and great customer service... and long term consistency in executing those three things are what ultimately determine share value.

Until the Vista fiasco resolves, and until some semblance of management sanity returns to Microsoft, the share value will be volatile.

Manage for customer satisfaction. Period.

If you do that, the share value will take care of itself

Anonymous said...

I suspect that Comrade Taylor has been dispatched to a Kamchatka camp for not staying loyal to the party manifesto. The FY'07 manifesto insists that tractor production be increased ten-fold and Comrade Taylor probably did not agree.

KevinB said...

Mini, I've spent much of the last few days reading your posts from the beginning, just to see what's happened. Sounds like 'not much', but I give you props for trying.

But I have to take issue with your refrain of MS being a company that makes 'great products', and your desire to make MS an innovative company. The entire history of MS has been to copy someone else's idea in a clunky, kinda works way, and then refine and improve it, eventually. I mean, I use Office 2003, and for the most part I'm content with Excel, but it's not really significantly better than the Lotus Jazz I got with my first Mac back in 1985.

And you might not be aware of how the IBM connection helped MS make it big. For those who never saw it, the extent of IBM's market power in the 80's cannot be believed. Little Apple II's were more powerful and cheaper than a PC-AT, but IT managers at IBM shops absolutely refused to buy them. "If it's not from IBM, it's not going on my users desks." And each PC-AT that went out with a copy of DOS made more easy money for MS, as did the upgrades to get around the 640k RAM limit. The IBM factor is the main reason MS-DOS beat out CPM and the other OS's; not because of superior software, but because of another company's incredible market power.

Now I give BillG all the credit for not blowing the opportunity, but MS still has never introduced a product that worked well in its first release. So I don't think there was EVER a time when MS made great, innovative software. YMMV.

Anonymous said...

Mini's Ken DiPetrio allusion says it all...

Anonymous said...

Business 2.0's 10 people who don't matter

Ballmer makes the list. FYI, Ozzie at least makes the top 10 on their 50 who do matter. FWIW...

Anonymous said...

The most rumor-ridden article I've read so far: Did Microsoft push Taylor or did he jump?

Delicious!

A bit:
Others are suggesting that Taylor’s demise spells the beginning of the end for Ballmer. Taylor was his heir apparent after all. In fact, it may be true that Ballmer’s days at Microsoft are numbered. His performance in the top executive position has hardly been exemplary. The company has stagnated badly under his leadership and this is reflected in the depressed share price.

And are folks really sure MarkZ is gone? I haven't seen a single public reaction or notice? It would seem that the #3 longest serving Microsoft employee's departure would generate some sort of news with everything going on.

Anonymous said...

"When you try to manage a company in that frame, more often than not, a series of unfortunate attitudes develop and the share value trends down."

The share price has been trending down with management effectively ignoring it for more than 3 years. More recently, Ballmer went to NY and basically said FO to any street naysayers. And you think they're too focused on the stock? Pullease.

Anonymous said...

"agree. he did something very bad or something very bad was done to him.

thoughts?"

Given the way it went down, odds and logic overwhelmingly favor the former.

Anonymous said...

"Given what it takes to get let go from this place, my guess he did something real stupid."

Doing something real stupid is the job requirement for a MSFT VP. It's doing something inappropriate that'll get you offed.

Anonymous said...

>>martin was taken out ... there is a huge story here.

>>Dig.

Thanks, Mulder. Thanks Deepthroat. Sure, it's easy to say "Follow the Money," the "Truth is Out There," etc.

You got something to say, say it. Otherwise I'm going to go on believing that Taylor boffed a nubile 17- year- old and it was caught on tape by either a competitor or the DOJ. Found in bed with a dead girl or live boy, as my Texan friends say.

I haven't seen his picture, but if it's true that he was black, this makes the story even more intriguing, because Microsoft would more soon by iMacs for the board of directors than fire even a marginal black executive. The bad PR is just too damaging for the nice WASP white boys who run the show.

Anyway, years ago, I went to a great bit of training called Management Essentials. My session was held out in the woods in North Bend. It's a residential course, it lasts a week, and you drink a buttload of Kool-Aid.

Anyway, the business simulation that takes up the last 2 days of the course is based on the experience of a disgruntled female employee. At first she appears to have a performance problem, but as you dig deeper, it turns out that a cadre of spineless or lascivious managers have completely set this poor woman up for misery. The most compelling character you meet in the simulation is George, a resting and vesting GM (useful as mammaries on a bull) who freely admits he tried to date her, but she turned him down.

At the end of the simulation (one exec who judged each team's performance calls it the Kobayashi Maru test--there is no way to win, only interesting ways to lose), you find out that George is a Friend of Bill with a stack of HR complaints no one can touch because of his pal.

My point is this: there's a different bar for folks above a certain level. Bad behavior will be ignored or tolerated until it reaches a level of egregiousness that approaches raping a nun on CNN with your blue badge proudly displayed.

Either that, or industrial espionage, which, truth be told, would be a far more interesting story.

Anonymous said...

He got fired. Period.

He spent too much company money flying him and a co-worker to cities for weekend "meetings". Brummel found out and he was out. Ballmer wasnt able to save his buddy.

I am sure his wife is not pleased - wonder how long until she disappears from the GAL..

Anonymous said...

hmmm

1. Groping
2. Stealing
3. Snorting
4. Racial or sexual jokes, or some other gross behavior
5. Pulled an Enron, i.e. did something that could create problems with the SEC and/or FBI
6. Hacking, stealing data
7. Caught interviewing with a top competitor (Google, Yahoo, maybe Apple)
8. Threatened to leave for another job, and bluff got called
9. Being Mini-Microsoft
10. Ray Ozzie decides to make a clean sweep
11. Making a stealth move to be announced shortly
12. Decided he wanted to spend more time with his family

disclaimer: these are all hypothetical of course. I have absolutely no information.

Anonymous said...

I use Office 2003, and for the most part I'm content with Excel, but it's not really significantly better than the Lotus Jazz I got with my first Mac back in 1985.

For chrissakes Mini, we haven't had our fun interrupted in a while by spineless "open source/Mac" eunuchs for a long time. Can we keep it like that please?

I'll buy this shithead a copy of Lotus Jazz as soon as he can point me to where it is sold

Anonymous said...

"I am sure his wife is not pleased - wonder how long until she disappears from the GAL.."

Probably soon if this is reflective of the empathy she can expect from co-workers.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that 90% of what microsoft is working on has no chance of ever turning profit. Just take a look at the licensing agreements if you don't believe me, MSFT spends a small fortune developing things, e.g. file formats, that have gimped licensing agreements so that people will adopt it. I thought this was a CORPORATION. It's a joke, the company needs to be split up/downsized ASAP because individual groups aren't accountable in terms of P/L. I'm not saying every group should be, they shouldn't, but when the VAST majority of groups aren't, then you have a problem.

Anonymous said...

"The share price has been trending down with management effectively ignoring it for more than 3 years. More recently, Ballmer went to NY and basically said FO to any street naysayers. And you think they're too focused on the stock?"

Yep. MS has been too focused on the stock. And they're too focused on all the things (wrong things) that seem to always fill the vacume of imagination that is caused by the "share value" headset.

Microsoft has been, for more than 3 years, sitting on its laurals. It has been reactive instead of leading. Trying to protect where it has been instead of looking where it is going.

And as it sat fat and arrogant, plodding away year after barren, drifting year on Longhorn and fighting off antitrust suits the IT world was changing under its very nose.

The share value declined because investors no longer perceived Microsoft as the growth company it once was. And you can only BSOD and DNS the investors or, after waking up, chase after Google for so long...

Microsoft took its eye off the ball. The same way Boeing took its eye off the ball.

Under the leadership of Condit and Stonecipher, the Boeing idea of customer relations was "We know what is best for you, and this is what you are going to get."

With the entrance of Jim McNerney, Boeing's approach to customer relations is now "What do you need? How can we make this YOUR product?"

Instead of worrying about share value, market share, Airbus, dividends, changing the location of their offices, and a million other things that add no value to the end product, they started to refocus on the product and on their customer's needs. I will repeat. Customer needs... what they say they need, not what you think they need. Did customers say they needed a near supersonic shorthaul(aka Sonic Cruser)?.. NO!.. lol!

And Boeing began focusing on bringing out the best and cutting the chaff from the Boeing team.

In January, McNerney dropped the capitalized phrase "World Headquarters" from Boeing's building in Chicago and its Web site, explaining that he preferred the less grandiose "corporate offices."

In March, he rewrote the pay rules for managers, tying more of their bonuses to profits instead of the stock price. Managers must also submit to performance reviews by subordinates, who will rate them on how well they "inspire others" and "reflect Boeing values.""


That shift in corporate attitude and culture has made all the difference in the world with the employees, customers and investors. And the Boeing stock price has reflected that.

Anonymous said...

"A request to all ex-Softies who post here and who are happy with their new gig.

Please leave the name of your company at the end of your post."

APPLE. It's as cool as you all think it is.

Anonymous said...

"I haven't seen his picture, but if it's true that he was black, this makes the story even more intriguing, because Microsoft would more soon by iMacs for the board of directors than fire even a marginal black executive."

Gimme a break! MS is the most (subtly) "Good Ole Boy" companies I've ever been at. And we're not talking reverse discrimination. For a 70,000 employee company to have just one corp VP in its history that made it up the ranks internally that is black (and one other lateral in HR), is simply disgraceful. We all know lots of marginal to outright incompetent VPs that are white boys - about 190 of the 200 execs. This is no meritocracy; it's a frat. Ifyou don't believe me, pls read Mini's post on Performance Reviews.

Anonymous said...

How about changing this game to the opposite? Let's also have here examples of folks who came to MS from other companies and feel lucky. I can start. I left IBM several years ago for Microsoft and boy I'm glad I did.

What am I doing here in this blog? Well, I see many problems inside MS and I truly want it to become a better place. Would I go back to Big Blue? Never, not a chance. I like it here and hope to stay here for many years.

Anonymous said...

"For a 70,000 employee company to have just one corp VP in its history that made it up the ranks internally that is black (and one other lateral in HR), is simply disgraceful."

Never worked in IT before, have you? Black presence is virtually nil in this field for reasons that are far too politically incorrect for anyone to say out loud.

Anonymous said...

Taylor was fired for banging a gal on his team

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with the above comment on the race factor. Since someone had to go there, bringing up Martin's race. Doesn't ever seem to come up when discussing all the other incompetents at MS who are "doing a heckuva a job Brownie." (Or in the White House, but that's another blog). Anyway, back to "marginal black executives..." - pls point to any black executives at MS, marginal or -f- otherwise?!

Anonymous said...

Two thoughts. Matin forgot the cardinal rule to always be careful what you leave on company computers and was either dicsovered to be selling secrets to China, a terrorist organization or he was caught doing something so embarrassing to the company that he had to be let go without even getting a chance to resign.

The termination was obviously very abrupt and it has all of the hallmarks of an external factor. If it was a smiple legal issue like drunk driving he would be in rehab but Microsoft legal wouldn't have gotten involved.

The key is that he wasn't given a chance to resign first so it sounds like this is going to be very very embarrassing for the company.

Has anyone seen him since the accouncement? Is he in rehab? Do they have rehab for child porn? Are we going to see him on a 20/20 sting meeting an underage kid?

Anonymous said...

For chrissakes Mini, we haven't had our fun interrupted in a while by spineless "open source/Mac" eunuchs for a long time. Can we keep it like that please?

Boy, someone hit a nerve here. Is it really that unpleasant to hear about competition ?

Wouldn't the definition of "spineless" preclude piping up as an advocate ? Who is spineless here - the person pointing out what they like better, or the one saying "come on, I don't want to hear that crap"..

It's such a typical MS uber alles attitude. (Strikingly similar to the IBM attitude circa the 1970's).

15 weeks to October. Go team.

Anonymous said...

"A request to all ex-Softies who post here and who are happy with their new gig.

Please leave the name of your company at the end of your post."


Google

Anonymous said...

This is no meritocracy; it's a frat.


For softies who've been around for a while, just think what walking in building 8 was like years ago. Ballmer slapping folks on the back, guffawing, prancing... Yep, it's a big bad friggin' frat party. Let's see: women tend to be abused/dissed, few minorities in mgt, curves that didn't apply above L65, louder = better... yep, that's a frat to me!

Anonymous said...

"Vista is said to have over 50 million lines of code, whereas XP was said to have around 40 million. There are about two thousand software developers in Windows today. Assuming there are 5 years between when XP shipped and when Vista ships, those quick on the draw with calculators will discover that, on average, the typical Windows developer has produced one thousand new lines of shipped code per year during Vista. Only a thousand lines a year."

Well ok yes this is one of the times when numbers arnt "real" but even still:

Given 260 working days a year

3.8 lines of code a day or:

3 hours to write one line of code.

While unrealistic, its not "good"

I wish we could find out how many sodas / koolaids microsoft buys each year so we could work out how long it takes a windows developer to drink one. The calculations would be about as useful as the above ; fun fact but completely useless and unreal.

Anonymous said...

The most interesting on this blog is reading all the braindead "OMFG the stock is falling, fire Ballmer!" comments. Actually it makes Ballmer look much more intelligent than the "stock whiners".

What's the matter? You got to late in MSFT to harvest the fruits of others work? You bet on the wrong horse?

I have not seen one intelligent idea about how to make the stock go up (especially from those who whines the most), but the one braincell idea "Fire Ballmer!". So after Ballmer's gone, everything will be allright? The stock price will climb through the roof, just like that?

I don't think anyone of you have any idea of how wallstreet works. You think they are so stupid so they buy your stock just because Ballmers gone? If you're lucky it will go up a tiny bit, but then they're gonna wait until you deliver.

I guess if you fire Ballmer and still don't manage to deliver, the market will loose confidence not on just one person, but on Microsoft as a whole, and then you're in real deep s***t.

So instead of just yelling "fire Ballmer, fire Ballmer" it would be nice if you have a plan B, because just "fire Ballmer" is not going to help you.

Anonymous said...

He spent too much company money flying him and a co-worker

"too much"? there's a budget for that?

Anonymous said...

"I am sure his wife is not pleased - wonder how long until she disappears from the GAL.."

For those of us outside looking in, what is the GAL...?

Anonymous said...

Tally so far:

IBM < Microsoft < min(Apple,Google,Citrix)

c said...

Did you see this announcement of our Robotics group?

What? you're saying? We have a Robotics group?

Yup - check out http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/274562_msftrobotics20.html or http://msdn.microsoft.com/robotics/ for the details. This one will really delight our shareholders!

Choice quote from the article:
That investment is relatively small for now, with nine full-time employees in [the GM's] group.

Let's look at this org structure:

GM
- Architect
= SDE
= SDE
= SDE
- Architect
- GPM
= SDE (yes, to a GPM)
= 5x contractor
- Marketing Manager
- Intern

They are lean and mean though - seven of them share the same office in the GAL! (It's probably a lab, though)

Anonymous said...

GAL - Global Address List ... list of employee, vendor, contingent staff, etc..

Anonymous said...

There are at least two plan B's and both require courage.
Plan B1 is to break up the company into 3: Platform, Business Solutions and Entertainment. A version of this sits inside corp dev and from time to time I imagine it's dusted off, revalued and reviewed but current execs won't back it. The other plan is to sell off the Entertainment unit. Our enterprise business returns over 50% on investment. Entertainment will never return more than 10%-12%. If it was your 401K, which side of the business would you invest in?
There are those that like the cool factor of being in entertainment. There are also those who will argue that XBox is a necessary play to protect Client's consumer business. Both are valid emotions. Neither makes sense as an investment philosophy.
So, why ask Steve to step down from CEO role? Because good alternatives exist, but they are not being pursued

Anonymous said...

>Who is spineless here - the person pointing out what they like better, or the one saying "come on, I don't want to hear that crap"..

Listen to the words coming out of your mouth. You are actually standing up and defending some person claiming he sees no significant improvement between Jazz and Excel 2003 and who provides no substantiating comment on why he doesn't think the features of Excel are beneficial or what he wanted that he didn't find.

Even if this wasn't a troll, which, given the rest of his post, it likely is, there is nothing useful to be derived from it. It's not an opening for discussion. It's not asking for improvement. It's just a drive-by "You guys suck!". All it deserves is to be ignored.

Shame on Mini for posting it. Shame on you for defending it.

Anonymous said...

Not a softie, but I believe GAL refers to the Global Address List on MS Exchange. In layman's terms the list of email addresses.

Anonymous said...

I forsook MSFT for HPQ.

It is nicer than you think out here!

Anonymous said...

Paul McNamara reports that according to a senior Microsoft source,

"[Martin Taylor] rose through the ranks fairly fast and many were not shy about saying he climbed the ladder based on his relationship with Steve Ballmer, which hinged on the fact that Taylor was on Ballmer's inter-company basketball team"

and

"Every time I talked to Martin, I got this he's-full-of-s**t feeling"

Anonymous said...

I heard that Mark Z retired.
He could have done so ages ago but enjoyed still working at MS and also wanted to set the admirable example to his teenage children, before they left home, that you do actually have to go out to work in the mornings if you want to succeed in life and be a useful member of society.
Best wishes to him -- he is probably one of the most respected Engineers in the company.
Just wish I could have met him in the flesh, but I'll remember him every time I se an MZ signature in a hex dump.

Anonymous said...

Re: "The most interesting on this blog is reading all the braindead "OMFG the stock is falling, fire Ballmer!" comments. Actually it makes Ballmer look much more intelligent than the "stock whiners"."

I see a huge number of reasons to fire Ballmer, but the stock performance while he's been at the helm is just the easiest at which to point and laugh. Never mind the fact that he's an insurance salesman who for some unknown reason is making important decisions at a technical company. Look at how Microsoft culture has changed since he took over, choosing to promote non-technical managers who think (?) like him. These days most of Microsoft seems to be run by managers with pointy hair, routinely ignoring the advice of engineers. The engineers no longer receive worthwhile compensation, which has led to massive loss of talent to competitors, and the managers get loads of options through SPSA. That's a complete 180-degree change from the pre-Ballmer era.

With this current culture, it's obvious why MSFT has so much trouble developing or shipping a decent product these days.

Get a clue: It's not about "stock whining". It's about Microsoft's general decline ever since the salesman was put in charge of engineering decisions. (FYI – I worked at MSFT both pre-Ballmer and post-Ballmer, before finally giving up in disgust after routinely watching executive management ignore inconvenient engineer advice.)

Anonymous said...

Opposite of the GUY.

I invest, I pay attention to who's in charge. Most people who invest do.

Anonymous said...

Oh-oh, there goes your Scoble love, Mini:

'Dave Winer and Scoble were there trying to flush out who was “mcD” in the IRC. Interestingly enough, Scoble actually admitted that Mini-Microsoft *is* a coward. Interesting.'

Bloggercon IV warms up

Maybe post-Microsofty Scoble will be all ready to flip-flop around and rip Mini a new one.

Anonymous said...

by the way Ken DiPietro was fired because he was having a relationship with someone who worked for him. Bit of a surprise as you would think the big HR boss would know better.

Anonymous said...

Newest news at MSFT: Due to crappy stock price now the big bosses are talking about STOPPING ALL HIRING in FY07.. The non Business groups are already calling off interview loops for this. Of course there will be "Some exceptions" (we all know they will be in Vista).

Anonymous said...

Mini,
All the horse s**t comments on this topic do nothing to support your "lean mean profit making customer pleasing machine".
Don't give a rats arse who this guy was or is.
Black, white or multi colored does not make a .01% difference in stock price which seems to be the overriding concern for most (current) employees.
Most of you still don't get it. There is going to be a changing of the guard from top down.
Instead of trying to figure out who's arse to kiss, do your freaking job, those who do will have a chair when the music stops. It's an intuitive kinda thing...
Give us software that works in our world and we would be more than happy to continue the investment in your company.

Customer

Anonymous said...

louder = better... yep, that's a frat to me!

I hope Ozzie can see through this. It is really pathetic how many completely worthless thinkers have secured their spots in Microsoft simply by being loud, brash and (whether deliberately or not) stupid. Sometimes I feel like I'm in the middle of dream/nightmare, thinking 'there is no way this company can elevate where the criteria of acceptance is being loud, obnoxious and scornful.' The stock price notwithstanding (stocks go up and down, sometimes sans logic, I'll concede ballmer that point) Microsoft basically can't go on this way. No organism that is deliberately harmful to its own well being can flourish. Microsoft, at this point, is riddled with cancer.

Anonymous said...

by the way Ken DiPietro was fired because he was having a relationship with someone who worked for him. Bit of a surprise as you would think the big HR boss would know better.

Yep, it's surprise...someone found DiPietro attractive enough? Shudder!

Anonymous said...

Let's also have here examples of folks who came to MS from other companies and feel lucky. I can start. I left IBM several years ago for Microsoft and boy I'm glad I did.

Yeah, but comparing to IBM is a low-hanging fruit. I woudln't want IBM to be the only company that's worse to work for than Microsoft.

(Another former IBM'er here at MS).

Anonymous said...

Vista is said to have over 50 million lines of code, whereas XP was said to have around 40 million. ... on average, the typical Windows developer has produced one thousand new lines of shipped code per year during Vista

Those are stupid numbers. Weren't there whole components completelly re-written for Vista? The number of lines of new code should be much higher than simple delta of the totals.

Anonymous said...

They are lean and mean though - seven of them share the same office in the GAL! (It's probably a lab, though)

There's an hour-long video on Channel 9 which shows their digs. It's not a lab. But it's a lot bigger than a single office would be too (and they're in a corner so they get windows on two sides).

Former Hailstorm SDET said...

I went to Citrix.

Anonymous said...

by the way Ken DiPietro was fired because he was having a relationship with someone who worked for him. Bit of a surprise as you would think the big HR boss would know better.

A 'relationship'? Basically the dumbass was nailing anything in a skirt. I am glad we booted that guy.

As far as Martin Taylor goes, WHAT AN INCREDIBLE IDIOT - he had everything going for him and he ruined it all because he couldn't keep his zipper up and even worse did it on the company's dime. He showed a amazing lack of judgement and character. Imagine a guy like that leading an important initiative for the company - It's good we booted that brown-nosing loser.

Anonymous said...

Those are stupid numbers. Weren't there whole components completelly re-written for Vista? The number of lines of new code should be much higher than simple delta of the totals.
The right thing to do now is to reduce number of lines, not to add new ones. The Vista code is much bigger then required to implement the same functionality and functionality itself could be cut in times just increasing user's value. It is stupid to count new lines.

Anonymous said...

WinFS is DEAD DEAD DEAD:
http://blogs.msdn.com/winfs/

Nice job MS, everything is falling apart now...

Anonymous said...

LOL. WinFS has been dead since 2004.

Anonymous said...

Adobe.

Anonymous said...

There are several good ways that can be used to get the stock up, but Ballmer doesn't seem to want that to happen. There are a number of theories why (one of my favorites: employee stock option under-water sale from a few years ago), as well as the fact that he's a multi-billionaire who's made his money and he doesn't really care if anybody else does well.

#1 - Buy Yahoo. With all the extra cash that we have on the balance sheet, this can get done. This immediately places us in a stronger competitive position with Google regarding search and lots of the other things that Yahoo offers. Google is the media darling, but Yahoo is actually providing better services and software.

#2 - Buy eBay. Here's a company that is going to just continue to rake in money, because people always have junk they want to buy and sell. Plus, eBay owns PayPal. Again, we've got plenty of money to get this done.

#3 - Massive stock buyback. Taking stock out of the public circulation increases the value of what remains in circulation. This was probably covered in an introductory Finance class in college for many of you.

Now, what else can be done to boost internal morale? Remember, a happy and motivated employee is a much more productive employee that is more willing to put in extra hours and effort for potential rewards. Pay raises across the board for all individual contributors (non-managers) would be a start. I'm a career (13+ yrs) individual contributor that has shipped many products and designed lots of innovative work for Microsoft. Do I get more than a pat on the back and a paltry raise for my efforts? No. Management takes all the credit for it, gets their multi-million dollar bonuses, and the individual contributors that are actually doing the work instead of "setting strategy" and "being overhead" get the spoils. Pass large (I'm talking LARGE, not "here's a 2 grand bonus") on to the actual Feature Designers (PM's), Developers, Testers, and User Assistance writers that get things done and out the door.

I found this interesting: when Bill announced that he was stepping back from his active role, he said that he wouldn't be in a position to do that without the great employees that built and shipped the software that made Microsoft what it is and made him mongo-rich (paraphrased). Ummmm...yep...now how about a little something for the effort? If we made you uber-rich, return a little bit of that to the rank-and-file (probably anyone below L65). "Whatever you made last year in salary, here's a one-time bonus out of my own pocket of the same amount. Great work, much appreciated. Keep it up!"

Rant mode off now...blood pressure returning to normal...

Anonymous said...

winfs has been brain dead for years. they just took it off life support. pulling it from vista is looking like smart move. hopefully the cairo filesystem delusion won't be a boat anchor on katmai now.

Anonymous said...

Why is steveb not the leader msft deserve? Let me count the ways:
1) comp 2000: gave everybody big raises just as the tech bubble is about to burst
2) cut backs from espp to office supplies and to towels, just as the job market is about to recover
3)demand MSN to turn cash flow positive around 2002 just as Internet business growth was coming out of freeze. Sure they turned black, by cutting down head counts.
4) change the company vision statement at least twice, each made less sense then the previous one
5) launched "software as service" in 1999 but with no follow through
6) so clueless as to ask how many softies use google on daily base
7) repeating the same "best product pipeline" sunshine from 2005 to 2007 without any sense of irony.
8) do not show any appreciation of what makes intellecutal property products successful and/or difficult to build.
9) virtually tune-deaf with the street.
10) flip-flopped on the sponsorship of Washington anti-discrimination legislation.

I will let someone else list any brilliant move steveb made during his tenure as CEO. I sure can not think of any.

Anonymous said...

I am appalled to see the shortsightedness some folks show in the comments on this blog. Stock price is not doing well, so fire Ballmer. Do you guys even have a clue?

Disclaimer: I am not Ballmer. Neither am I a partner or VP. Just a regular employee.

Now consider the following:

1) Ballmer made a decision to invest $2 billion for the long term. He could easily have helped the stock price by instead declaring a larger dividend, but guess what, that would have been crazy short term thinking. 2 years down the line we would have found Google left us far behind in the services game. Ballmer could then have bailed ('screw you guys - i'm going home'). Instead, he took the right path, although unpopular with speculative short term investors.

2) Many folks here have said Lisa Brummel is a great HR leader. Well, who do you think picked her for that role? She wasn't even in HR before - she was an exec in a product team. Who do you think had the foresight to believe she would do well in that role?

3) From a fundamentals perspective, MSFT is still a solid company, with a great financial position and good growth over last few years (even when the market and industry wasn't doing well). The stock price just reflects investor uncertainty over future growth prospects. Removing Ballmer will change nothing. Instead, we need to show we can do well in our investments in new areas like Xbox, MED, Live etc., which might take a couple of years. Have patience.

4) No one denies that the top executives have been picked well - Kevin Johnson, Robbie Bach etc. And now, the decision to put Sinofsky in charge of Windows and Live. Who do you think picked and promoted these people? Ballmer. And btw, Sinofsky is not a marketing guy - he has an engineering background. The Presidents do have business backgrounds, but maybe that suits the responsibilities of their position better. As long as they pick solid engineers to run the show under them, who cares?

5) And if Ballmer leaves as CEO, who can replace him? I don't see anyone in the company (other than Bill Gates ofcourse) who would be a good replacement. Kevin Turner? I don't think so. I don't want this company to have a Walmart like culture.

Anonymous said...

Is that actually true about the FY07 hiring?

Why do they have some many interns then? They aren't going to hire any of them?

Anonymous said...

WinFS is DEAD DEAD DEAD:
http://blogs.msdn.com/winfs/

Nice job MS, everything is falling apart now...


Excellent job Quenten. Another massive failure on your part. First SMX, which wasted almost 700 man years on a gigantic mess, now WinFS.

You will probably get promoted again.

Anonymous said...

"Never worked in IT before, have you? Black presence is virtually nil in this field for reasons that are far too politically incorrect for anyone to say out loud"

Agreed..but Microsoft isn't even taking a swing at hiring blacks in any numbers. At least two major software companies have black CEOs (AOL and Symantec) so black software managers with solid experience do exist in the marketplace. However, Microsoft either isnt making an effort to hire them (they would if it were important to them) or, given the old boys network within the level 65 to level 69 in windows, they dont stay more than two years or so (much like women and other minorities in windows).

Numbers that I found online indicate that approx. 2% of US computer science graduates are black (a bit higher in Canada and the UK) and 3.2% of overall workers in the technology sector are black. If 2% of the workforce in Windows division was black, there would be about 280 blacks in windows...there were 11 as recently as 18 months ago.

Microsoft hides many of their diversity statistics by reporting company-wide numbers. Using definitions from Table 2-2 in http://www.cra.org/reports/wits/chapter_2-with%20tables.html as guide, they are more than willing to hire blacks at the bottom rung as "supporters/tenders" to make up their numbers, hire blacks as contractors, or just print more internal diversity posters with black people on them to post in various buildings on campus. OK, the last part was a joke but, in reality, entire orgs such as windows with approx. 14k employees can have revenues that equal the gross national product of entire countries and only keep 11 full time black employees. At what point will you begin to believe that this behavior might actually be institutionalized/tacitly approved at the highest levels? Management is and has been keenly aware of their diversity numbers but nothing changes.

"but if it's true that he was black, this makes the story even more intriguing, because Microsoft would more soon by iMacs for the board of directors than fire even a marginal black executive."

The bar for firing black employees seems to be much lower. Isnt it odd how black employees tend to be fired from Microsoft for sexual issues? As I write this, I personally know of exactly the same number of black employees fired for sexual misconduct as white employees (3)...this is a small sampling but still striking considering the exponentially lower level of representation. If the alleged rumors about Martin are true and you think that this is the only VP or exec "banging the help", you're living in a child-like fantasy world. I know of 6 senior managers that are (including a partner or two)....and if I know, others likely know as well (and apparently do nothing about it). Whether the behaviour is right or wrong, the deeper problem is that the "dead girl-live boy in bed" analogy that someone posted posed earlier doesn't seem to be equally applied bar. MS management seems more willing to do the legwork to root out such behavior by minority employees than their white counterparts.

Also, given the competitiveness of entry into the partner system, there is actually a certain reward in eliminating choice minority candidates...or just ensure that they aren't promoted to the level of consideration for partner.

"pls point to any black executives at MS, marginal or -f- otherwise?!"

There have apparently been less than a handful of blacks hired or promoted over level 61/62 in Windows division ever in its history. Those stories would be interesting interviews for any book or article to be published on the subject. More telling in my opinion is the historical view of black Microsoft retirees from the two big money making divisions, Windows and Office...what's your guess as to the number that were able to retire on their MS options?

It always make me laugh when white guys in other ethnically predominant groups within windows complain about being forced out or not being able to be promoted despite doing good work. Women and minorities in software experience this all of the time.

booger

Anonymous said...

Martin Taylor was a member of the team who wrote the MS Company Values http://msvalues. Anyone see the irony of that? I'm sick of the phony execs in the company.

Anonymous said...

On the issue of race, I can say ex-jock blacks curry more favor at Microsoft than intellectual blacks. If blacks (or anyone) at Microsoft want to be respected they need to act clanny and gregarious. They can't simply be respected for their own excellence. You would think given Gates assessment of himself as a world visionary that intellectual merit would be held in the highest regard. In the Ballmer led Microsoft circa 2006, that is not true. We are infected with bumptious figureheads across every division and at every level.

Anonymous said...

I'll give a hint as to one reason martin was fired. Let's just say it partly had to do with the phrase "Hey Windows Live! Come pimp my office!"

or did everyone not notice those posters with that phrase went up on monday everywhere on campus, he was fired on tuesday, and by wed morning all the posters and the million little cards they were distributing with that phrase were mysteriously gone?

(I kept one though. I knew when I saw it someone was going to get fired for that.)

Anonymous said...

Don't even bring up comp2000 - I only got like a 10% raise from comp2000. You know why? It was because my salary was already above average due to my star performance for a few years in a row. On the other hand, a friend of mine who was a poor performer got a 45% raise! Top performers got penalized while poor performers got rewarded. Nice system!

btw, wrt buying Yahoo - why would Yahoo want to sell out? They're doing much better than our internet business? I guess MS could pay a premium but Wall St would definitely penalize MSFT if that were to happen.

Anonymous said...

If the alleged rumors about Martin are true and you think that this is the only VP or exec "banging the help", you're living in a child-like fantasy world. I know of 6 senior managers that are (including a partner or two)....and if I know, others likely know as well (and apparently do nothing about it).

I'm the partner who occassionally comments here.

You should report these people asap to senior HR mgmt if the people they are having the relationship with are in their own chain. That behavior is disgraceful and exposes the company to all kinds of issues. If you are worried about the stock performance, think about what happens if there is a lawsuit or the like?

Do it anonymously if need be but do it. To be direct, please do it if and only if you are reasonably certain of this matter - otherwise you could end up causing a lot of heartache and emotional/ organizational turmoil for everybody. The bar is high but if you know this is the case, then call HR.

Finally, don't make the Martin issue of race. It is not. Bad and unethical behavior requires swift and decisive punishment.

Anonymous said...

To act as if race is in no way involved in this drama about Martin is delusional. Granted, his behavior, if true, warranted that the company separate themselves from them.

However, his departure also brought up sore feelings and a rift that many blacks feel with the company. Upon learning of his departure, there were a flurry of emails on the Blacks at Microsoft alias, all expressing confusion, sadness, and frustration around the fact that we don't have enough black leaders and that things like this essentially "scare us". These musings were rapidly shut up by a couple of posts informing the members that the alias is monitored, and then another mail that basically said "none of your business, and now we're officially telling you to shut up out of respect for Martin." Is it not healthy for employees to air these feelings and discuss them? Can we not, out of respect, stop speculating about his departure but still express the fears/concerns we have around diversity at MS? You might also ask, why is this alias in particular monitored? Are all affinity group aliases monitored in such a way that people should be careful about CLM's involving discussing concerns about diversity? Anyone want to take a bet?

MS doesn't publish numbers about diversity (and especially blacks) because they're bad. I would just say that I'm in the know, and they're bad.

Furthermore, as a black at MS, I see it all the time. Few to no similar faces in the work group, the majority of black "engineers" being hired in coming in as testers, as opposed to more prestigious PM or even SDE positions ... which isn't to say a tester isn't necessary and good job, but when you have a Comp Sci degree from MIT (as one example), does an SDET position really seem appropriate? Again, from simple experience, the majority of black engineers I've met at MS are testers.

And let's not even go in to leadership ... suffice it to say there are very few inspirational figures, and one of them just got fired.

So maybe Martin wasn't fired because he was black, but he certainly fits in to the bad numbers around attrition (good/bad attrition) and he definitely is one of three (now two) black VP's, now gone.

I'll also say that, in my experience, MS is great at diversity lip service, and has some individual employees that are working their *butt* off to make it happen ... but in terms of leadership, we have to thank our lucky stars that we have a couple (like Raikes) who seem to genuinely care and just hope that at one point the leadership will begin to actually put it's money where it's mouth is and start making diversity a real priority rather than just a bullet point on the wish list.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of minority executives at MS what happened to Orlando Ayala and how did he fall from grace?I see he's not listed on MS Senior Leadership Team.

Zzt said...

re: Martin, I do not see why it is so crucial to fire people if they had sex with co-workers. I really d o not - all I care about is performance. Ballmer should be fired even if he never has sex again in his life. Martin should be retained if his performance is good, or let go otherwise - same as everyone else. Nuff with all this PC bs.

Anonymous said...

If you really wanted to fire everyone that was sleeping with someone in their chain, what about Raikes? I guess that happened back in the day when the good ole boys network could protect him...

Taylor. DiPietro. Feronni. Raikes.

Power goes to their heads. And it is the wrong one...

Anonymous said...

I don't really see what the problem is if people who work together start dating each other. I know dozens of couples at Apple who met on the job and got married. It's only considered an HR issue if one of them reports to the other directly in the chain of command, and their co-workers see special treatment as a result. Of course, if there's any pressure involved, then the perp is out of there as soon as HR decides that there's a liability issue.

Anonymous said...

Presumably all distribution lists are monitored, which makes sense when you think of legal implications in a corporate setting. I don't think any specific ethnicity is singled out for this treatment.

Now whether this warrants the kind of censorship alluded to, I'm not so sure. What is the point of the list if one cannot talk about the elephant in the room? Maybe it's a place to discuss b'ball.

Anonymous said...

"Never worked in IT before, have you? Black presence is virtually nil in this field for reasons that are far too politically incorrect for anyone to say out loud"

Eh ... can the person who posted this please explain what they mean?

Anonymous said...

The fixation on the stock price worries me for a couple of reasons. The first and most obvious is that is generally highly correlated to the desire to "cash out". The second is that is kind of obscures a more fundamental issue for the company, which is the profitability model for microsoft going forward.

Regarding the first, I would say that maybe it is me but I notice 99 comments about stock price to every 1 comment about compensation plan. At the end of the day, stock is a portion of the total comp. And the comp plan unless you are DCP eligible is pretty weak. If these boards were full of shareholders I think you would hear a lot more about dividends and unlocking some of that cash. I think it's probably much more productive to get some energy channeled towards that, get a really innovative comp structure that encourages the right behaviors etc. and ensures we get the best talent. So when you say stock price, I assume you want to get rich quick and cash out, reality says that won't happen because of the law of large numbers. Our comp plan below partner is pretty vanilla and doesn't reflect either our aspirations or our self image as innovative etc.

On the second front, it would be pretty easy to get the stock price moving again. Truly - just start winding up some investment, milk office and windows more, really accelerate the pace of outsouring to india and china. Our R&D spend is pretty much a black box anyway. Jack up the dividend significantly, really optimize free cash flow over a period of 2 to 3 years. Pretty easy to do - but is that what you want?

We're in a massive transitional period where the outcome is uncertain, investment needs to be increased without corresponding short term payoff. We have to radically change the product engineering model. We are building cool new products which have longer selling cycles but much lower profitability than just selling OEM versions of Windows.

Google beat us to the honey spot on web search - but this isn't the first time that's happened. Lotus, Borland, Netscape, Java - there's a ton of tose in the rear view mirror.

I actually like the low stock price right now because I can buy more stock. I believe in the strategy, but I need to know more - especially from our friends in Vista land.

In the short run, the stock price is not representative. And over the past five years, the stock price has reflected snap shots of our enterprise (cash + future cash) value. Suggest you focus on the product strategy and profitability model, to the extent that diverts from the stock price it represents opportunity.

Anonymous said...

All the diversity aliases are monitored - I've seen 'stop this thread NOW' type messages from HR on the British one too.

Anonymous said...

Upon learning of his departure, there were a flurry of emails on the Blacks at Microsoft alias, all expressing confusion, sadness, and frustration around the fact that we don't have enough black leaders and that things like this essentially "scare us".

Maybe it's a job and the ethnic identity stuff can wait until after hours--you know, with all your other hobbies. Personally identifying with the fate of an exec you don't even know (and admit probably deserved to go if rumors are true) based solely on his skin color is pathological.

Please, leave MS, go work in another major corp in the computer industry and report back that 10% of the programming staff are African-American. (Not figurehead CEOs, programmers.) The search might take awhile. In fact it might take forever.

Blaming MS for an industry-wide issue (which, by the way, has no easy or pleasing solutions) is just inane.

Anonymous said...

re: Martin, I do not see why it is so crucial to fire people if they had sex with co-workers.

Not coworkers, but subordinates.
I would not want to find myself in a situation where my career path depends on whether I provide sexual favors to my boss.

Anonymous said...

several years ago, BrianV and several of his MS Hockey buddies were accused of sexually harassing a woman who worked in his group. After the investigation, HR recommeded to Ballmer that BrianV and his hockey buddies be fired from MS. Ballmer decided to fire the Hockey guys and not BrianV. The Hockey guys threated to go the press and with this threat, Ballmer caved in. They did not fire BrianV or the other guys. They gave the girl a nice lump sum payment and moved her into another group. Where she has to do no work. TRUE STORY!

Superman does not lie!

Anonymous said...

1. look at the number of black people in the Seattle area as a whole. There just aren't that many. MS isn't going to have a larger number than the local population as a whole.
2. Computer science is not a well integrated profession as a whole. It's not just blacks, but women, native americans, etc. It depresses me how few women are in leadership or other positions. HR and marketing seem to be the only areas where women manage to get into the company. sad.
3. If Martin was fucking a subordinant, that pretty much blows (pardon the pun) his integrity and claim on any "respect". Screwing a peer or someone else? So what?

Anonymous said...

Most of my bosses in Microsoft have been women. The best boss I ever had in Microsoft was a black man.

Unfortunately, they do not rise through the ranks based on quality. (Ballmer cronies do regardless, an observation I cited in my exit interview).

Share price or no, Ballmer has been a cancer in the organization long before he got promoted to CEO.

As to share price specifically - really, how much more do you think Microsoft is ever going to be worth? The only thing they've accomplished in markets they haven't dominated for 15 years is to spend a ton of money in order to score second or third place. Even long-established teams can't find their arse with a map (I'm looking at you, Vista).

Anonymous said...

Does MarkZ's departure have anything to do with the recent reorg of file system into SQL, under the turf of WinFS?

TheKhalif said...

Paul McNamara reports that according to a senior Microsoft source,

"[Martin Taylor] rose through the ranks fairly fast and many were not shy about saying he climbed the ladder based on his relationship with Steve Ballmer, which hinged on the fact that Taylor was on Ballmer's inter-company basketball team"

and

"Every time I talked to Martin, I got this he's-full-of-s**t feeling"



You mean I could have saved myself 1000s of hours of hard work by just playing basketball?


SON OF A BITCH!!!

TheKhalif said...

"Never worked in IT before, have you? Black presence is virtually nil in this field for reasons that are far too politically incorrect for anyone to say out loud"

Eh ... can the person who posted this please explain what they mean?




Let's just say the impetus is towards other things - media-wise.

Anonymous said...

look at the number of black people in the Seattle area as a whole...

The first points here is moot. In King County, black population is 5.9% ... the % at MS is ~ less than a third of that.

Additionally, someone already gave the numbers on comp sci on this thread ... again, we're less than the national stats of graduates. Lastly, if diversity were a *priority* ... if we actually said, our employee base will reflect either national or international percentages in order for our products to really reflect our customer demographics and to truly enable a diversity of ideas to thrive, we'd have *at least* ~ 13% African Americans at the company. And this isn't unheard of... there are companies, ConEd being an example, that make the effort and in fact hire *more* African American's than the national population stats would suggest ... and these aren't janitors, these are engineers. DiversityInc.com has a lot of good info on this ... they didn't rank MS in their list of companies because we wouldn't answer all of their questions around stats ... wonder why?...

I've been told by people in a position to have personal knowledge that Gates really does/did see diversity as a priority (evident in his scholarship orgrams, etc) ... but that to Ballmer, it's very much a lip service thing, that personally he could basically care less on the issue at MS. When that is the case, it's no surprise we're where we're at in terms of diversity. We have to have leadership that really says our numbers our unacceptable, that we're not doing enough, in order for any change to happen.

I was just chatting with a fellow black engineer at MS yesterday about some of this stuff, and I tell you, the sentiment is pervasive ... which is why our bad attrition numbers are dismal ... it's not just anecdotal ... black employees really do feel an extra strain, an extra sense that while maybe not unwelcome, we're simply not valued, that our contributions are often marginalized and that the company isn't committed to growing us as a community.

Racism doesn't have to be a bunch of people calling you "ni****" ... it can just be people not getting promoted, people not getting hired, people getting fired, people getting pushed out. By this definition, racism is alive and thriving at MS.

And regardless of what anyone thinks around this issue, the numbers speak for themselves. Out of somewhere ~ 70k employees, we have ~ 1100 black employees. Do the math and let that sink in.

Anonymous said...

And on the issue of diversity/racism ... anyone notice how many Indians and people of asian descent work at MS, and how they are (or rather aren't) reflected in the senior leadership?

With blacks, you might try to make the argument that the talent pool is too small (which would be BS, but still) ... but once you look at the other demographics, it becomes obvious that MS is a good ol' white boys club.

Damn I sure hope the execs read this blog. I bet Lisa Brummel does. I love you Lisa!

Anonymous said...

several years ago, BrianV and several of his MS Hockey buddies were accused of sexually harassing a woman who worked in his group. After the investigation, HR recommeded to Ballmer that BrianV and his hockey buddies be fired from MS. Ballmer decided to fire the Hockey guys and not BrianV. The Hockey guys threated to go the press and with this threat, Ballmer caved in. They did not fire BrianV or the other guys. They gave the girl a nice lump sum payment and moved her into another group. Where she has to do no work. TRUE STORY!

Wow. I once heard Valentine tell the story of how the worst day in his life was when DOJ handed down its charges and his son asked him: "Dad, are you a criminal?"

No, son, just a psychopathic serial harasser and adulterer. Don't tell your mother, okay?

This is not the first place I've heard tales of Valentine's sexual misconduct.

Goddammit, all I ask is that our executives comport themselves with some sense of ethics. Is it really so hard?

One has to wonder if the Vista problems might have been alleviated had Ballmer taken this opportunity to rid himself of the Valentine mafia.

Anonymous said...

I see a lot of "Fire Balmer", moaning over stock price, and in my not so humble opinion, the much wrose but apparently general feeling that the inmates {L65+ managers} are running the asylum.

I'm not a 'Softie so all this is from the viewpoint of an outsider.

Should Balmer be fired? Absolutely. As should all the other {by someone else's guesstimate} 180 of 200 incompetents.

Mini gets it that downsizning should occur now, from the top.

I'm sure my reasons are much different than Mini's and most of the 'Softies who post here though.

I remember attempting to install Windows over DrDOS. I remember attempting to install Windows over IBMDOS. Yeah, I got the message about being unable to install Windows.

I also remember STAC Electonics, the events surrounding TN 3.51 getting it's first {and the lowest available} security rating - but only while running unconnect from a network.

I've read the Gates et all emails which are a matter of public record from the various DoJ trials.

I read the Burst proceedings and the seemingly infinite number of other lawsuits where other peoples IP was copied/stolen and then 'paid' for years later after Microsoft lost in court.

Then look at all the spyware you guy/gals install. Windows Media Player "phoning home" with each DVD I watch and this latest business with Windows Genuine Advantage is stupid. Why do you want to piss off your customers by spying on them? {rhetorical question}

I think the bums should be thrown out because they are basically criminals.

You people want the stock price to go up? You have to get the "customer" to trust the company. Things like trying to "crush" Peter Quinn by calling in political clout does not encourage customers' trust. WGA does not encourage trust. Remember Passport?

Fish stink from the head.

The inmates _are_ running the asylum.

Your stock price will only start rising longterm once you gain the customer's trust and start providing them software which actually does what they need it to do.

Current top management is utterly unable to see that, much less act on it. And most customers know it.

Anonymous said...

Regarding this post:

The first and most obvious is that is generally highly correlated to the desire to "cash out".

Regarding the first, I would say that maybe it is me but I notice 99 comments about stock price to every 1 comment about compensation plan. At the end of the day, stock is a portion of the total comp.


You just answered your own comment about why you see so many posts about the stock price. Those of us that have been here many years know that the stock is a large part of our overall compensation. I'm not thinking about "cashing out", and I'll bet this is true of a lot of people. We were told when we joined that the stock was part of our overall compensation, and therefore we expected stock gains to make up for our lower salaries than we could obtain at other companies.

If stock is in the toilet, then our overall compensation is much lower than it should be for the value that we contribute to the company. Therefore, a big raise in base salary needs to be done to compensate for the crappy stock price, or the execs need to quickly figure out a way to get stock so our compensation doesn't go down by high percentages each year.

The benefit package is great though; best in the industry. Healthcare is fabulous, and the ProClub benefit is sweet.

Even with poor stock performance, the partners and above are raking in tons of dough and the people that actually get the real work done aren't getting what we deserve. They're riding along on the backs of the individual contributors, and we're making it such that they can afford their 911 turbos and $2 million+ mansions. I think we'd all just like to see some appreciation in the pocketbook for the effort, dedication, and amount of our lives that we've given to Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

"Never worked in IT before, have you? Black presence is virtually nil in this field for reasons that are far too politically incorrect for anyone to say out loud"

1. Very few blacks in IT
2. There is a figurehead black GM or 2 to ensure the diversity ratios show something greater than 0 when the reports are out.
3. Hey, unless you are white, you will not be considered for a job that you are not "worthy" of.
4. IT Business Systems is comprised of a diverse mix of people, Asia-Pacific, Blacks etc., look at the ratio of Asian managers to the Asian programmers/PM's working. BTW, Asian includes Chinese, Pakistanis & Indians for those who didn't know.

Now, you don't see many Asians with director or GM titles, versus the population that is working in IT. You do have a few 29-30 year olds with Director titles, who are obviously white and have "sold" themselves pretty well to their "white" bosses.

IT has leadership programs that were the bastion of the white until recently when HR forced a few colored mixes into the group. Didn't do good, because they usually are given the easy roles. Again, you don't see Asians in the IT leadership cadre, because diversity means include the Black folks to get the numbers right.

Dude, if something is wrong with diversity at MS, it is wrong in IT.

Also, all new 65+ positions are exclusively being filled with "white" folk, look at the last 50 positions at 65+ filled in IT..will show the truth!

Don't give me the BS that there are no blacks or asians that are qualified to earn those positions in the market. BS!

Anonymous said...

And on the issue of diversity/racism ... anyone notice how many Indians and people of asian descent work at MS

Yep, there are a bunch of them. Mostly SDE's and SDE/T's. I'll grant you there aren't many in senior leadership (yet), but there are a heck of a lot of Indians and other Asians at Microsoft. I was in a group once where if you weren't Indian, you didn't get any of the good assignments and you certainly didn't get any promotions or good review scores. I have a friend that was in a group where if you weren't Chinese or other oriental background you didn't get any of the good assignments and promotions/review scores. This stuff happens both ways.

Personally, I don't care what a person's skin color/gender/sexual persuasion/(insert other unique diversity-related property) is, as long as they can do the work required. If I had the decision-making authority, I'd hire a green alien hermaphodite if it could get stock to go up.

Anonymous said...

Based on this page:
http://members.microsoft.com/careers/mslife/meetpeople/

it looks like we are the most diverse company on the planet

Anonymous said...

Never worked in IT before, have you? Black presence is virtually nil in this field for reasons that are far too politically incorrect for anyone to say out loud

Exactly. How can you hire black execs when the hiring pool of black IT professionals is non-existent and getting smaller and smaller. IT companies are more liberal than other sectors (e.g. Banking) so you can't trot out the typica racist accusations.

This is not an IT problem but a socio-economic one afflicting african americans in general.

Anonymous said...

Never worked in IT before, have you? Black presence is virtually nil in this field for reasons that are far too politically incorrect for anyone to say out loud

Exactly. How can you hire black execs when the hiring pool of black IT professionals is non-existent and getting smaller and smaller.

---
Huh?? I'm wondering if the person who posted this is somehow in possession of employment application and demographic data that would allow them to make such a strong statement.

Based on what I know, less than 2% of Microsoft's roughly 60K employees are African American. That might make at least some sense if Microsoft's employees were limited to the Puget Sound area. However, about half of the total employee pool live somewhere outside of Washington state. So, in all likelihood, it's the black employees in various sales offices that raise the overall stats to 2%. Not at all a good story for Redmond.

Don't know what happened with Martin and don't want to speculate. But regardless of what happened or how justified or unjustified the situation, the separate issue of African American presence in the company is something that really needs to be looked at.

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons that it may seem blacks are treated unfairly at MS is because they are. As someone with some insider HR knowledge, I know that black recruits are typically brought in to interview for positions that they are not qualified for. To be politically correct, however, they get the job and then reality sets in, often causing them to be demoted or fired within a few years.

If they were brought in at a level where they could perform, they would stand a much better chance of getting promoted because, like others, they would have the time to learn the ropes while still being able to do their jobs, instead of being buried.

I am not saying this is every black's situation, just that it happens a lot. And frankly, it is unfortunate for two reasons: (1) reverse racism doesn't solve anything and (2) we let go of people that are mostly good Microsoft hires, just brought in at the wrong place.

Anonymous said...

"There is a figurehead black GM or 2 to ensure the diversity ratios show something greater than 0 when the reports are out."

There aren't even figurehead GMs in Windows division. Never have been...as far as I know, there have only EVER been 2 black managers above lead level in all of Windows division history...and both were pushed out.

Anonymous said...

WinFS is DEAD DEAD DEAD:

Don't blame Quentin, blame Peter (Spiro)

He was running the show most of the time, and only placed Quentin as a PUM relatively recently, when the writing was on the wall. Peter went back to SQL to be the successful leader to ship Katmai...

Brilliant manoeuver, Peter. Time to wash your T-shirt. IH is a spitter, and it shows.

Anonymous said...

Lets separate what happened to Martin from the race issue....

He was not fired because of race....

At some level I am actually happy to see him go....not because of what he did. But, because like lots of folks, I thought he never really deserved the job and him being out of there before crashing the business is a good thing.


The man had NO prior internet business experience...NO prior product management experience....NO marketing experience (unless u think selling in the carribbean counts as marketing exp) and had not led a team of more than 20 odd people before and we put him ontop of the Live product management and marketing team for arguably the most strategic business opportunity and threat for Microsoft.....strike you as odd???

Chalk one more up for Ballmers lack of judgement....

Anonymous said...

WINFS IS REALLY DEAD.

Quentin has been promoted to be a GM. Nice reward for driving the most promising project to the ground.

Anonymous said...

Quentin has been promoted to be a GM. Nice reward for driving the most promising project to the ground.

That's what GM means... Grounding Manager.

Look around Windows, most of the useless personnel are GM / PMs. Grounding and Process Managers.

KevinB said...

Some spineless anonymous wrote:
"Listen to the words coming out of your mouth. You are actually standing up and defending some person claiming he sees no significant improvement between Jazz and Excel 2003 and who provides no substantiating comment on why he doesn't think the features of Excel are beneficial or what he wanted that he didn't find.

Even if this wasn't a troll, which, given the rest of his post, it likely is, there is nothing useful to be derived from it. It's not an opening for discussion. It's not asking for improvement. It's just a drive-by "You guys suck!". All it deserves is to be ignored.

Shame on Mini for posting it. Shame on you for defending it"

I didn't want to get in a long dissertation on the merits of other people's software. I didn't say Office is bad, I said it isn't substantially better than Jazz was 20 years ago. Given how much the hardware has improved - I had 1 meg of RAM, and processor in the 100 Mhz range in my old Mac - you tell me how Excel has improved by the same degree as the iron. Jazz had hot links, all the formulae I needed, and a clean interface. What does Excel offer today that's *substantially* better? See if you can answer that without being crude and childish.

Again, I'm not trying to dump on MS products. I use them 8 hours a day, everyday, and they're fine. But my initial point was this vision of MS as an innovator has no basis in reality. You have tremendous market power, thanks to the IBM link at your startup, but all you've done is basically copy someone else's apps, and refine them. (And, to MS's credit, you do a good job of refining - eventually. IE still crashes for me once a week.)

Name me one big product that MS created that was not in response to a competitor's success. Word followed Word Perfect; Excel followed 1-2-3; IE followed Netscape; Powerpoint followed Harvard Graphics; Windows followed Mac (and Xerox Star); etc.

And a word on your stock price: people buy stocks for two reasons - yield and capital appreciation. As has been noted, with the dividend at 9 cents, no one is buying MS for yield. And why would you buy it for capital appreciation? The company is mature, it's market is pretty saturated - in my family of 4, we have 4 PC's (3 Windows and an Imac), and it doesn't have any blockbuster products on the horizon. So where's the big jump in profit that would be needed to get people to buy the stock going to come from?

I know you get enough precipitation in Seattle, so I don't want to rain on your parade, but I'll go out on a limb and say MS is not going to break out of its rut until some other company invents a new killer app that you can copy. That's what MS does best.

Anonymous said...

"A request to all ex-Softies who post here and who are happy with their new gig."

Geosign

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's a job and the ethnic identity stuff can wait until after hours--you know, with all your other hobbies. Personally identifying with the fate of an exec you don't even know (and admit probably deserved to go if rumors are true) based solely on his skin color is pathological.

I used to feel the same way. I'm a white guy, but I have pretty good diversity cred... token white friend at the black table, token white friend at the Mexican SuperBowl party, grew up in an integrated neighborhood, mom was a feminist, etc.

I just came back from a minority recruiting trip, because in my part of Windows we are actively goaled on improving diversity. (I can't speak for any other part of Windows.) I was there when the Martin Taylor story hit.

As the Softies buzzed and tapped their grapevines to find out what had happened, I realized the way that diverse populations are different from us white guys. They knew every MSFT exec who was ever let go for an HR violation. They knew the reason why every black star or female exec washed out. They had actively banded together to learn from this and make sure it didn't happen to them or people they respected. I knew some of these stories already, but spending days discussing these things made me realize the ways in which it's very difficult to make the diverse community feel that they are really on the same team.

I know... duh. I already "knew" this stuff, but it took a minority recruiting event to help me feel it and understand it.

Changing topics - regarding jobs that we offer to black people, has anyone noticed how many blacks work in "compliance" (enforcing HR rules, enforcing EU mandates, etc.)? Where I come from, these are sacrificial jobs where it doesn't actually matter if you do a good job, as long as you can easily be fired to "apologize" to the regulating entity if the company does a bad job.

Anonymous said...

I knew some of these stories already, but spending days discussing these things made me realize the ways in which it's very difficult to make the diverse community feel that they are really on the same team.

When you put ethnic identity over judging people as individuals, that happens. There is no solution, it is a coping mechanism that is incompatible with other, healthier outlooks. Worse, it is self-reinforcing. Not to get political, but look who floats to the top in ethnic politics. I won't name names but these tend not to be nice, tolerant people.

Anonymous said...

I will tell you all the reasons why Martin Taylor is no more. In his retreat as GM in the Caribbean he managed to screw up an approved $16 million goverment deal with the goverment of Dominican Republic that was never collected, mostly due to admin faults and handling styles. Then his wingman Nick Robinson managed to screw up another $16M deal at the Puerto Rico Department of Education that was cancelled and lost forever. (Mr.Nick Robinson also left MS silently and now rests in peace in a common grave). He also had an affair with a direct report that he took with him on his return to Redmond (as a souvenir I guess). And he left a lawsuit behind on harrasment that was negotiated out of court. Isnt that enough???

Anonymous said...

several years ago, BrianV and several of his MS Hockey buddies were accused of sexually harassing a woman who worked in his group. After the investigation, HR recommeded to Ballmer that BrianV and his hockey buddies be fired from MS. Ballmer decided to fire the Hockey guys and not BrianV. The Hockey guys threated to go the press and with this threat, Ballmer caved in. They did not fire BrianV or the other guys. They gave the girl a nice lump sum payment and moved her into another group. Where she has to do no work. TRUE STORY!

----

I don't know where the person who posted this got this information, but I was quite plugged into the hockey program and I never heard a thing about this. I would definitely have been interviewed by HR. The report is grossly exaggerated at the very least. The worst thing that happened, as far as I know, is that Valentine had a special distribution list run off his private (non-MSFT) domain to keep the locker-room talk off of corpnet. This list was created because some of the women on the hockey distribution list got upset at some pictures that got sent. But of course a bunch of people subscribed to this list from their Microsoft accounts so it wasn't altogether off of corpnet and Valentine got in trouble.

John said...

I'm a bit confused, all his talk re: Martin. The only post that seems to actually know was the "Partner" and then the comment re: Pimp. Anybody have truth?

Toby said...

"MS is not going to break out of its rut until some other company invents a new killer app that you can copy. That's what MS does best."


Some people think that would have been Google...?

Anonymous said...

anonymouse said:

So maybe Martin wasn't fired because he was black, but he certainly fits in to the bad numbers around attrition (good/bad attrition) and he definitely is one of three (now two) black VP's, now gone By Anonymous at 11:09am

--I know it sounds like that should be bad attrition but Martin ( who I have known since 1993) is good attrition - he was fired for failing to follow Corporate Policy.

And Zzt said:

re: Martin, I do not see why it is so crucial to fire people if they had sex with co-workers. I really d o not - all I care about is performance. Ballmer should be fired even if he never has sex again in his life. Martin should be retained if his performance is good, or let go otherwise - same as everyone else. Nuff with all this PC bs by Zzt at 2:35pm

-- you do not get fired for sex with a coworker and you usually do not get fired for subordinate sex - you do get fired for embezzlement or stealing which is what, if you boil this down, happened ( expense reports to cover his, and her tracks) so they could do their "thing". Not that the woman, his biz manager has also been fired for stealing, not for having an affair. Sorry to see, as has been stated before, has happened oh so many many times. :-)

Anonymous said...

To all who don’t think Microsoft is not a diverse company:


Please take off the blindfold or eye filter that makes you NOT see beyond your own race, skin color or gender. Get up and walk the hallways. You will find that this place has more people working here from the whole world than any other company. On many teams Americans are the minority. It proves that once upon a time we didn’t care and hired only the best.

And guess what I still don’t care when I am interviewing. I was as well part of the Management Essentials boot camp in the North Bend lodge. And when the VPs came on Friday to hear my case about diversity resolution and tension on my imaginary team I did tell them I am strongly against any quotas or statistics on how many blacks, whites or yellows we have. Let’s create environment where everybody has the same start line and select only the best out of the best. It did raised some eyebrows but at the end I got a pretty good feedback with the notion that one day it may be back but…

And the but pisses me off same as you who say we should have more of X! Why we should even care who is what color? We are all equal so let the market and competitiveness decide who is the best! It almost makes me feel you are the resists because you do make a difference between the white and black. I don’t.

PS: My team has 1 Vietnamese, 1 Indian, 1 British, 3 Americans, 1 Eastern European, 1 Chinese. Out of that are 2 women. Most of them were hired after I became the manager. What is your argument now???

Anonymous said...

"PS: My team has 1 Vietnamese, 1 Indian, 1 British, 3 Americans, 1 Eastern European, 1 Chinese. Out of that are 2 women."

For someone who admittedly doesn't care or notice the difference between ethnicities, genders, and races, you sure do have a knack for categorizing people accordingly!

Here's a hint: The "I am not a racist! We are all equal!!" statement begins to draw scrutiny after you've said it a certain number of times. Let your actions speak for yourselves, not your statements and "look how many non-whites I have hired" statistics.

Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Here's a hint: The "I am not a racist! We are all equal!!" statement begins to draw scrutiny after you've said it a certain number of times. Let your actions speak for yourselves, not your statements and "look how many non-whites I have hired" statistics.

This is good advice because ultimately the ethnic identity crowd doesn't give a damn what your intentions are, or even if you give them the quotas they crave (however much they illogically deny it), or anything else; if it benefits them to roll you, you will be rolled. In the end all you can do is what you think in your heart of hearts is right. Does this person deserve to be hired/promoted/axed? The second you start thinking things like, "But it would be nice to have a _____ in my group," you have sold your soul and sooner or later the devil will take delivery.

They will flip a "I'll bet some of your best friends are _____" with a sneer sooner than you can grasp a handful of papers showing how perfectly you've met unwritten quotas. Ever notice how there's no way to demonstrate you're not a racist, but a hudred million gazillion ways of proving you are? That's how the system works, pal. Just be glad you don't work in academia, where I hear they do show trials.

Anonymous said...

PS: My team has 1 Vietnamese, 1 Indian, 1 British, 3 Americans, 1 Eastern European, 1 Chinese. Out of that are 2 women. Most of them were hired after I became the manager. What is your argument now???

You just made the argument. When you stop being their manager, another of your ilk will be brought in to manage them. None of them will be deemed suitable to take on a leadership role because........what the name for it again? Ah yes Communication Problems

Anonymous said...

Yes, MarkZ retired. I got the mail forwarded to me. It was quiet, but not hidden.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes Communication Problems

Are you saying most of them don't have communication problems?

Anonymous said...

A few days ago I attended a meeting SteveB organized as an experimental out-reach to 'senior' (L65+)managers/leaders in a particular division. Much to my dismay, of the ~70+ senior people in the room, only one was non-white and only one was female. To the posters above who talk about the rich diversity of talent in Microsot, I agree - we truly have an international workforce and I've always taken pride in this. But you'll also notice these employees are mostly all relatively junior. At 65+ it's largely a white-male-old-boys network. Basically the criteria for rising higher at Microsoft, as I've heard multiple different 'partner' managers articulate, is 'Senior VPs should know your name' and 'You need to have visibility at the Senior VP level'. If you've ever seriously studied the topic of cultural values and diversity, you'll discover that 'american corporate expectations' are typically embodied best by 'outspoken white males'. Everybody else loses out in such a system unless there is a high degree of diversity awareness and commitment within the executive management. And I'm not sure I've seen this so far...

Anonymous said...

Martin Taylor joined Vista Equity Partners in December of 2006 as an Operating Principal. He is responsible for driving the transformation and operational improvements with the firm's portfolio companies.

Prior to joining Vista Martin spent 13 ½ years at Microsoft. His most recent role was Corporate Vice President of Windows Live and MSN. He provided business leadership as well as product and marketing management for Windows Live services, MSN and the Microsoft® Live platform.

http://www.vistaequitypartners.com/TeamMTaylor.html