Thursday, July 20, 2006

Microsoft FY06Q4 Results

Time for a financial-focused week. First is FY06Q4 results. Then the 7/27 Financial Analysts Meeting. If this kind of thing gets you excited, I certainly recommend showing up for the financial-themed Breakfast Series on 7/28.

I'm not expecting much news out of the Q4 results. I'm so overscheduled that I'm not going to have a chance to catch-up on the news analysis for a bit - when I can, I'll go through the comments here and other sites to round up the links. I'm certainly hoping not to be surprised. Before hand we went and hid - er - simplified our financial reporting. Surprise.

Pre-discussion of the earning results (really slim pickings as of my writing this...):

Post-discussion earning results: buy-back? Looks like executive management decided that wasn't such a dumb idea.

A question that has come up in the comments so far about the buyback is the cap of $24.75:

Microsoft has capped the tender offer at 24.75. Does it mean that Microsoft's share price can't practically go over 24.75 until August 17th?

What happens if the stock price does go above 24.75? What happens to the 20 billion dollars put on this tender offer?

Personally? I weep a little with each Xbox 360 sold.


102 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, collapsing the reporting units is pretty stupid especially since creating that granularity (as Bishop pointed out) was billed as increasing transparency. Then again, the move to grants was meant to "better align" employees and shareholders but Ballmer now says that employees don't spend much time thinking about the stock and that it insulated employees vs options (in other words, did the opposite of aligning with shareholders) - so talking out of both sides of their mouth is nothing new. WRT the reporting change for Mobile, I'd say who cares and that it probably should never have been broken out seperately. The MBS one is more problematic but basically reflects what's been increasingly clear all along - MBS is being run as an Office and related delivery mechanism vs trying to be the leader in CRM. So this new structure is fairer to their performance against that mandate, but underscores exactly what's wrong with MSFT (always trying to defend the past vs forge leadership in new areas). The MSN one is simply a case of trying to hide a total failure. Management should spend more time figuring out how to execute and less time playing hide the failing business unit.

I'm Guessing said...

Keep up the good work. I am always interested in hearing well thought out commentary. I check your blog every day.

Thanks for all your hard work, and for sticking your neck out.

Anonymous said...

MED, Microsoft Dynamics or CRM or whatever it's called nowadays, XBox will continue to be a big drag for the company. It's funny that the execs in MED and Dynamics keep telling people that they had 100%, 200% growth in the last quarter, blah blah blah, but they fail to say that they were growing from a $10M base. That's only revenue. Show us the profits! Video gaming at home is dying. I'm not taking my chances and I just exercised some options today.

Have you noticed that most product groups only talk about revenue numbers in division meetings? They never say anything about profits. They measure their performance by looking at the revenue numbers.

Anonymous said...

So one of the huge issues with the tender offer is that it caps out at $24.75. That means we can expect to not really see the stock price go above that at least until mid August. Then probably edging back down again. I like the more aggresive nature of the Board in accelerating that (wish they'd get aggressive on axing Ballmer), but wish that they were more aggressive on the price. If we truly believe in the stock price, why not $29 or $30?

jamie said...

http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=203039

Anonymous said...

The announcement (and Chris Liddel's silly covering email) were disturbing for a number of reasons. Briefly:

1. Consumer business consumes too much of the profit being generated by the enterprise business. This is not a good thing.

2. The share buy-back is a shell game. It is there to vacuum up the extra shares we will now be granting as part of the new comp plan. There is less new value here than meets the eye.

3. Since when does our CFO's email to employees avoid commenting on our lack of profit growth? Grow a pair Mr Liddel, or help by finding a way to get Mr. John Connors back.

MS originally went public to reward its employees. Now it is stuck in the horns of a dilemma. Either find ways to reward those same employees by growing the stock's value (and that means tough choices like cutting the consumer business loose), or go private and remove stock as a carrot for employee hiring and retention. You can't have it both ways. Taking "the long-term view" and criticizing analysts for "short-termism" is a cop-out usually reserved for the management of failing airlines and car companies. Please, please, get us out of the consumer entertainment industry!

Anonymous said...

I have a question about Microsoft's tender offer.

Microsoft has capped the tender offer at 24.75. Does it mean that Microsoft's share price can't practically go over 24.75 until August 17th?

What happens if the stock price does go above 24.75? What happens to the 20 billion dollars put on this tender offer?

Anonymous said...

I have another question. Does increase EPS estimates for the next year is taking the buy back into account?

Via this tender offer Microsoft would have bought back 8 percents of outstanding shares. Therefore, 8% EPS gaine. On the other hand Microsoft increased EPS estimates are only 4-5% percentage up.

Anonymous said...

I have to applaud MSFT for a fair buyback program of $20B which will reduce the overall outstanding shares by 8%.

In the past the buybacks pretty much targeted the insiders shares and this time the BOD and senior executives will not participate.

Anonymous said...

"Let's slim down Microsoft into a lean, mean, efficient customer pleasing profit making machine! Mini-Microsoft, Mini-Microsoft, lean-and-mean!"

So who's going to step up to the plate and pull the plug on the Xbox mess?

After five years and billions wasted, the 360 is selling worse than the first Xbox. And the red ink looks like it has no end in sight.

Phase out the 360 hardware.
Scale back the Xbox staff to all non-hardware people.
Get current 360 developers to target Vista exclusive titles.
Keep as much of the Xbox brand developed over the past five years but focused on Vista.

The short term PR hit will be worth it.

Anonymous said...

Check out some of the NDT and IE excesses at.

http://255255255255.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

More on MyMicrosoft - so I go to try to take advantage of the new PRIME discounts that they were touting as being "immediately" effective. The one for an additional 10% off childcare was especially compelling. Well turns out that they're not kicking that in until 2007. The more I find out about MyMicrosoft, the more I feel completely lied to. It WAS all about the towels.

Anonymous said...

Digest this- MSN's revenue for the quarter (not profit) declined year over year!?! Of course it made a loss as opposed to a profit last year.

While Google's revenue increased 78% and profts increased 110% year over year for the same quarter.
Yahoo's revenue increased 28% but profit dropped.

How badly is MSN managed?

Anonymous said...

MS originally went public to reward its employees. Now it is stuck in the horns of a dilemma. Either find ways to reward those same employees
-

The way is found. The partners and employees can sell at the end of August. This will bring back the shares to $21.

Anonymous said...

It makes me sad to see Hardware and MacBU profit lumped in with the rest of E&D. Those two groups (especially the MacBU, profit is around $1M/person) probably make more profit per head than anywhere else in the company, yet the overall division is brought down by the XBox like a stone around its neck.

Phil said...

"Digest this- MSN's revenue for the quarter (not profit) declined year over year!?! Of course it made a loss as opposed to a profit last year."

While not great news, this was actually expected. MSN is moving away from a subscription revenue model to an ad-based one. Many of the older subscription businesses (like dial-up internet access) are winding down. As more people move to broadband carriers, that subscription revenue will go away.

This was discussed publicly in slide 13 of the Powerpoint presentation posted with the earnings announcement.
http://www.microsoft.com/msft/download/fy06/Q4-FY06ERSlides.ppt

The adCenter platform just launched this quarter and our search relevance is still catching up with Google. Given that, it is not surprising that we are behind Google at this point. If we are there a year from now, then your point is more valid.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft has capped the tender offer at 24.75. Does it mean that Microsoft's share price can't practically go over 24.75 until August 17th?
What happens if the stock price does go above 24.75? What happens to the 20 billion dollars put on this tender offer?


During the conference call today, Chris L. had briefly discussed this during Q&A. Bids can be placed from $22.50 to $24.75 in $0.10 increments. Microsoft will not decide until August 17th or later as to what bids it will accept. The share price can go up as high as it wants without the $24.75 restriction. The only advantage for people placing the shares for sale early is in case everyone decides to sell theirs first.

Example: At $20B/$22.50 = 888 million shares will be bought back. Let’s say shareholders agree to sell 900 million shares at $22.50. Only the first 888 million shares will be bought since it met the $20B buyback. This is the only advantage in placing you shares early for sale. If the share price is at $28 on August 17th, you can decide to pull out of the share buy back program. I am not sure on what the deadline is to pull out of the program, but MSFT will be sending all shareholders a package with the details. This program calls for repurchase of 808 million shares or $20B which ever comes first. This is a brilliant move on the company’s part to keep pushing the shares higher.

Having said all this, I think a delay in Vista will be announced at the Financial Analyst meeting next Thursday and this is a way for the company to maintain its share price without creating a panic. When all is said and done, 8% of the total outstanding shares will be bought back under this program and that should cover a vast majority of the panic sellers.

Anonymous said...

"Via this tender offer Microsoft would have bought back 8 percents of outstanding shares. Therefore, 8% EPS gaine. On the other hand Microsoft increased EPS estimates are only 4-5% percentage up."

The tender doesn't close until Aug 17th, so you won't have the benefit of the reduced share count for the entire fiscal.

Anonymous said...

After Google's report, one analyst said MS should cut bait on their live initiative. Google was too far ahead. No way. State has moved irreversibly from the desktop to the 'Net. Microsoft has always run in 2nd place. They let 1st place piss a bunch of money into new projects, copy the ideas for the ones that work, then re-launch them for profit. And anyway, ad revenue is the most fickle thing in the universe. Just asked all the investors that backed Infospace during the crash. Enjoy the ride Google. Its not going to last forever.

Anonymous said...

How badly is MSN managed?

Hey, take a deep breath and repeat after me: "big looooooooong term bet"

Anonymous said...

In light of these financial results, are we to expect better or worse rasies? Number of promotions?

Anonymous said...

Four responses:

Microsoft has capped the tender offer at 24.75. Does it mean that Microsoft's share price can't practically go over 24.75 until August 17th?

It won't likely exceed $24.75 based on historical results, correct.

What happens if the stock price does go above 24.75? What happens to the 20 billion dollars put on this tender offer?

If for some reason it exceeds $24.75, then no one will participate in the tender offer because they'll get more money from the market. Or Microsoft will change the terms and then be required to extend the expiration by 10 days.

2. The share buy-back is a shell game. It is there to vacuum up the extra shares we will now be granting as part of the new comp plan. There is less new value here than meets the eye.

This is more than accounting for dilution from sales IMHO. It's taking 808M shares off the table immediately, and insiders aren't participating according to the report. The extra stock allocated for performance reviews is far less than the 808M shares in this tender offer. I'll bet the number of SPSA grants vesting soon is far less as well.

If we truly believe in the stock price, why not $29 or $30

Because that would reduce the number of shares MSFT can retire as people bid up their offers, and the objective is to retire shares not just spend money.

Anonymous said...

Reading some of the moronic comments on this blog would lead one to believe the best thing Microsoft could do is fire everyone and do nothing except sell licenses for existing products...

Anonymous said...

"Personally? I weep a little with each Xbox 360 sold."

You know things are bad when they have to include a slide in the earnings deck that shows results with legal and H&E taken out. I guess that's the "if only we hadn't been so stupid on both counts" view.

Anonymous said...

http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,2180,1992210,00.asp

"During its quarterly earnings call with financial analysts on July 20, Microsoft maintained the party line that it is still planning to release Windows Vista to manufacturing before year-end 2006 and to launch it in January 2007. But what if Vista slips a quarter, asked one analyst. Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell told company watchers that a one quarter Vista slip would cost Microsoft between $200 million and $400 million. Ouch."

Anonymous said...

MSN is hemaraging money like no tomorrow.

To the loudmouths from MSN (yes, I am thinking Obasanjo) - please justify your job and your division.

Let's focus on the things we're good at.

Anonymous said...

Christ how do you guys expect to expand into new markets if you don't take risks and try new things?It can't be just about Windows and Office.

Anonymous said...

[Hey, take a deep breath and repeat after me: "big looooooooong term bet"]

I thought that was the MSN justification for the past 10 years? Now it's the one for the next 10 as well? MSN has been a miserable failure and against all logical odds, appears to be getting even worse. The best thing that could happen to MSFT, is that YHOO finally decides it doesn't have the war chest to win against GOOG and throws in its lot with MSFT - with YHOO management spearheading the resulting effort.

Anonymous said...

re MSN. I think it's gone from "Long-term" to "past-due".

joe said...

Regarding needing a war-chest to go against google, i think that you are missing one of googles keys to their success:

They're amazingly cheap infrastructure, built on white-box pcs. They'bve optimized their infrastructure so that they get the absolute most bang-for the buck that they spend.

you arent going to be able to outspend google, because they are far more efficient in their spending than you. think between 5:1 and 10:1.

Anonymous said...

In MacBU, profit is around $1M/person.

In Office, profit is around $5M per person. My salary's less than 100k regardless, so cry me a river.

Anonymous said...

One person wrote: "The tender doesn't close until Aug 17th, so you won't have the benefit of the reduced share count for the entire fiscal."

The tender offer will close the next month. The next fiscal year closes next year. So the Microsoft earning will have a benefit of reduced share.

My original question was: Share count is expected to decrease by 8% whereas stimated EPS gain is 4%-5%. So compare to last quarter did our estimates for total earning have increased or decreased. The former, in case new EPS estimate does not take decreased share count in to account. Latter if new EPS estimate does take decreased share count into account.

If neither, then does it mean Microsoft would actually retire only 4%-5% of the shares, because of SPSA grants?

Anonymous said...

I think we now have 3 cash cows - Server and Tools had a great quarter, actually beating Office revenue for the quarter and blowing Office away on growth.

SQL Server's growth of 35% is very impressive considering it is a billion dollar business. Now if only SQL would ship every 18 months instead of every 5 years... anyone listening?

With Exchange moving to the IW group, Server and Tools will have a huge drop in revenue, but it's still a very nice business with mid teens growth potential.

Anonymous said...

"how do you guys expect to expand into new markets if you don't take risks and try new things? It can't be just about Windows and Office." - Anonymous (gratuitous profanity removed)

Why do you want to expand into new markets? Is it because the view is nicer?

Oh, it's because you want to make money? Well, that's a fine reason. But would it be too much to ask that Microsoft's ventures into new markets actually make some money?

The criticism isn't that Microsoft is trying to get into new markets. The criticism isn't even that they lose money for a while. The criticism is that they never stop losing money. For some ventures, like MSN, this has been going on for a decade.

Maybe, after all this time, it's time to say that MSN is never going to make money. Maybe it's time to say, "nice try, but it didn't work", and walk away.

There's a more cynical view - one that says, "Maybe Windows and Office is really all Microsoft can do (successfully)." Maybe there's something in Microsoft's corporate DNA that makes it fit for that "niche", and unfit for anywhere else. Maybe, even, the thing that makes them unfit for anywhere else is "integration". This makes them look at the whole world as extensions to Windows and Office. Just a thought...

MSS

Anonymous said...

I agree about MSN. If you've spent a decade trying to get something off the ground, it's time to fold the tent, and admit that it never was anything more than a vanity project.

As a very wise man once said: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then, quit. No need to be a damn fool about it.

Anonymous said...

One expert wrote: "It won't likely exceed $24.75 based on historical results, correct."

True. But you never know. There have been only an handful number of days when Microsoft stock fell more than 10 percent. Still it did the last quarter, 5 percent after hours and doubled it the next day.

There is no reason why the reverse can't happen. It did gain 5% afterhours yesterday, and if Dell had not spoiled the party it could have gained few additional percentage points to go over $24.75.

It depends how far away history you look at. Microsoft had been close to 60 in the past. Even after the bubble burst it had been at 36 in the past. Those things seem irrational? Why do you believe people on the planet have suddenly been swaped by aliens in the last 10 years?

Anonymous said...

Christ how do you guys expect to expand into new markets if you don't take risks and try new things?It can't be just about Windows and Office.

I'm all in favor of Microsoft expanding into new markets. The problem is, as we've seen repeatedly over the last ten years, most of these new ventures are headed by people who don't understand the market they're entering and think that just throwing money around and leveraging Windows/Office wherever possible will magically make customers overlook the fact that the actual offering is substandard.

To date, it hasn't worked. It will never work.

It's funny to read interviews where execs claim variations on the theme that "this first entry is just to get our feet wet, the real innovation will come in versions two and three." Then the venture is cancelled before we see all that innovation.

Xbox has been mentioned a few times. Classic example there with XSN, which actually was a really innovative idea about wrapping all the sports titles into one interactive brand where players could go nuts checking stats, leaderboards, scouting opponents, you name it. Only the games themselves (excepting the Salt Lake offerings) were lame third-place finishers behind EA and Sega, even after three tries (I'm talking about you, Fever). The online leaderboards were always late getting up and running, with the official word being "We're still in 'pre-season' here, the actual XSN service will be debuting in force this spring."

Then by the time spring rolls around (which should have brought a new baseball game, the sport most positioned to take advantage of all XSN's promise), the Xbox group announces that XSN is being retired. Salt Lake is sold off and the sports division is closed (76 people laid off, apparently so the Games division could afford to promote three new GMs to its dwindling org a couple weeks later). And the excuse is that "EA has too big a lead. We can't hope to compete."

(Then why waste so much money trying? And with such pathetic efforts as Fever, Inside Pitch, and NHL Rivals? Because some non-gaming exec with a Harvard MBA had a spreadsheet that took as given the fact that people would just flock to the Microsoft titles once they found something to leverage them against, regardless of the quality of the individual titles).

Actually, "game quality" is a concept that most of the higher-ups in Xbox don't get. All one needs to do to confirm that is look at the titles that were published for Xbox 1 before the division went RIF-happy and decided to largely get out of the actual publishing business since it's "too hard to predict the market."

Oh, I forgot. It hasn't all been contraction since then. MGS did acquire Lionhead, makers of the perpetually-delayed and eventually-disappointing Fable (although they did actually end up more or less finishing the game a year after it went on sale and re-selling it as a Platinum Hits title - "Fable: The Lost Chapters" or as I like to call it "Fable: The Game You Thought You Were Buying Last Year"). Well, others have put that in context better than I could.

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/04/07

(Yes, I am a former MGS-er (not in sports, though) and yes, it still bothers me how much of my money and yours was misspent and continues to be misspent by an org piloted by someone like Robbie Bach and his cronies whose business is business and not games).

Again, I'm all in favor of Microsoft entering new markets (Windows and Office aren't going to keep the company growing, no matter how big the egos of certain salespeople get). But I want to see people leading the charge who actually have a clue about that market. And if they're not successful, I want to see them held accountable, not the org itself (anyone actually think Robbie Bach lost a dime of income while hundreds of his subordinates were RIF'd?) and not the industry ("Oh well, the world's just not ready to share our vision.")

Anonymous said...

Christ how do you guys expect to expand into new markets if you don't take risks and try new things?It can't be just about Windows and Office.

Us guys expect it to be done with some grace and intelligence, that's how.

For the past 4+ years, the video game market has indicated the importance of small size, low cost, and fun games versus the latest graphics chips and fastest CPUs. Witness the runaway success of the Nintendo DS and the redesigned PlayStation 2, which is outselling the XBox 360 by embarrassing amounts.

Microsoft's strategy should obviously be to sell a small, stylish, low-cost console based on last-generation parts and back it up with rich development tools. Instead, the f***wit nerds in management give us another big, noisy, overheating monster that is expensive even when sold at a loss.

It would be nice if Microsoft could enter a market without the colossal, multi-billion dollar strategic missteps.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that Microsoft isn't being run by the cowards that most of the above bloggers are. You guys have no courage to try anything, or to stick with efforts. Windows wasn't a success until Windows 3.0. Thank God you guys weren't at the helm during the Win1.x and Win2.x days, and thank God you guys aren't at the helm now.

You know what, I used to be against a wide-scale RIF. But seeing the complete lack of vision evidenced by these bloggers makes me think differently. Microsoft does indeed need a RIF, as long as it means getting rid of the likes of you guys that have zero long-term vision, and zero guts.

I'm sorry to be harsh, and I hope that mini doesn't reject my post because of it, but good grief, show some guts and take some chances. Look at Office 2007; they're taking chances by revamping the long-standing UI. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't, but it's better than not having the courage to try.

Xbox is doing great things with Microsoft's image among game players. Check out any gaming blog (like xbox.ign.com), and you'll see many posts saying, "I used to hate Microsoft, but now I love them because of Xbox". Maybe Xbox hasn't translated into profits yet, but I'm very glad that it exists. I'm glad that Zune is coming. I'm glad the Media Center exists. I'm glad the Tablet PCs exist. I'm glad that Windows mobile exists. I'm glad that the work done at research.microsoft.com exists, even though most of that work probably won't result in profits. I'm glad that Microsoft is giving away the Express versions of its dev tools for free, even though it means missing out on potential profit.

I think the work being done with the Live.com stuff is great, and I don't want to just kill it off because MSN hasn't made profits for most of its life (BTW, the only reason MSN lost money in the latest results is because of the increased expenses in developing Live.com, as you should've expected since these expenses were announced with last quarter's results.)

Anyway, MSFT is up 4% today, so at least someone likes the latest results.

Oh, and I'll not be selling my shares during the buyback period.

Anonymous said...

Zune? Another massive push to spend billions gaining a little bit of marketshare?

It's all about the core - what's Microsoft's core business, and how do products like Zune and X-Box fit?

Anonymous said...

They're amazingly cheap infrastructure, built on white-box pcs. They'bve optimized their infrastructure so that they get the absolute most bang-for the buck that they spend.

even on the desktop it takes a copy of redhat fedora (free) and firefox (free) and you're into the great wide open. Tough to compete with. Better to focus on MSN/Live and figure out how to make that work.

Anonymous said...

"My original question was: Share count is expected to decrease by 8% whereas stimated EPS gain is 4%-5%. So compare to last quarter did our estimates for total earning have increased or decreased. The former, in case new EPS estimate does not take decreased share count in to account. Latter if new EPS estimate does take decreased share count into account."

The new revised EPS estimates take into account the expected reduction in shares outstanding as a result of the $20B buyback - that was made clear on the CC. Total earnings are therefore down slightly which presumably reflects the lost interest income on the $20B. Plus I'm sure they're playing some "try and bury the SPSA dilution" in there - no one's likely too keen to highlight for investors just exactly how much these folks are walking away with despite the rather hopeless performance of the company and especially the stock over the past 3 years.

Anonymous said...

you arent going to be able to outspend google, because they are far more efficient in their spending than you...

Google looks sexy right now because it really didn’t have to spend too much money on their way to the top. They have pretty much maxed out their market share in the search market. This is partially due to the ineptness of Yahoo and Microsoft, but these companies will be catching up in the next 12-18 months.

Google is a one-trick pony and has to start heavily investing to stay on top while trying to expand into other markets. Last quarter they hired almost 1,200 employees or 15% of their total workforce. They spent $1.2 billion on R&D this year which is 140% more than they spent last year. Their products may be interesting, but none of them make any money and costs are starting to catch up to them.

Anonymous said...

In the zune vs. ipod challenge expect plenty of buzz-phrase bingo, including:
- amazing opportunity
- richer set of features than ever before imagined
- with broad support from (you pick) industry, partner, customer
- will redefine the way that
- will revolutionize the way that ...
- more technologically advanced than
- what (you pick) customers, partners, are telling us ...
- industry standard

etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

The stock buyback has Ray Ozzie's fingerprints all over it. Bill and Steve's tactic was to keep the money at hand in case they had to (in-case-of-emergency-break-glass) pour it into some incredible initiative. Stock buyback is a more statesman-like thing to do. Its an appropriate thing to do with MS shares undervalued, and it makes everybody think (including your employees) that you're in it for the long haul. It was definitely the right thing to do. There was no 'really good thing' to do with the cash otherwise (save push scads of it at the Live program, and that's already being done). Like Warren Buffett says: "If you don't know what to do, don't do anything." Simple advice, hard to follow sometimes.

Anonymous said...

"MSN is hemaraging money like no tomorrow.

To the loudmouths from MSN (yes, I am thinking Obasanjo) - please justify your job and your division.

Let's focus on the things we're good at."

To the myopic loudmouths who are still living in the 1990s product based software world: why don’t we just cut your groups (creating a mini-msft!), keep collecting licenses, and instead focus on groups that can actually handle a 1-3 month ship cycle. C'mon, 3+ years with still no product to show isn't that bad, I mean with all of that self-entitlement, you must have made some serious contributions to our cash cows
(and only if you worked on pre-Vista/Office 2007, otherwise you get a big smack to the head). My guess is you're just a sniveling little new hire who just happened to get picked up by Windows/Office.

Now for the justification; MSN, aside from the front facing Live stuff, does significant R&D (mostly D) on much of the online infrastructure that is used by the rest of the company. This infrastructure saves us BILLIONS in non-MSN related online operating costs. We’re dealing with managing and transparently providing distributed services like indexing, data mining, storage, and relational data across hundreds of thousands of machines in datacenters all over the world. MSN builds this infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft's strategy should obviously be to sell a small, stylish, low-cost console based on last-generation parts and back it up with rich development tools. Instead, the f***wit nerds in management give us another big, noisy, overheating monster that is expensive even when sold at a loss.

Well Microsoft can at least take solace in the fact that Sony's plan is to bring to market an even bigger, noisier, overheating monster that is considerably more expensive and will still lose money. They must think they have game developers by the balls. Only Nintendo is doing the "less is more" thing. We'll see how that works out.

Anonymous said...

Anybody see the Micronews article about new office designs for some teams?

Why is it that it's substance-free teams that get/need the cool offices -- MSN marketing, Ray Ozzie's "core" team(???), or -- here's a center of uselessness -- Patterns & Practices / Engineering Excellence.

What about all us rubes who are able to get our job done, in our standard-issue offices, with our standard-issue non-articulating LCD monitors? I don't need a glass wall to write notes on in order to have better job satisfaction -- I need more pay, less crap/overhead, and more gutsy decisions. (Oh, and less vapid cheerleading of the "Ad Astra" variety).

MiniD

Anonymous said...

how do you guys expect to expand into new markets if you don't take risks and try new things? It can't be just about Windows and Office.

This is what I would call taking risks and trying out new things. I hope we announce something really revolutionary in this new space!

http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,2180,1992687,00.asp

Anonymous said...

Last quarter they hired almost 1,200 employees or 15% of their total workforce. They spent $1.2 billion on R&D this year which is 140% more than they spent last year. Their products may be interesting, but none of them make any money and costs are starting to catch up to them.

-
sounds like microsoft hiring HR.

Anonymous said...

"Regarding needing a war-chest to go against google, i think that you are missing one of googles keys to their success:"

Gee, how did I miss that amazing insight? GOOG's "white box" architecture doesn't mean that they still don't have a significant overall capital requirement and that it is increasing dramatatically. Additionally, the war between MSFT and GOOG is raising the investment requirements for both (e.g. TWX deal and recent GOOG/DELL one). Therefore, like I stated, anyone looking to compete against them will also need deep pockets and YHOO is going to need to decide if they have the wherewithall for that. They already said they're delaying their Adsense equivalent due to their recent weaker results. That doesn't seem wise. YHOO has the search % and the management savvy. Microsoft has the software expertise and dollars. A more direct tie-up short of a merger would be smart for both. JMHO.

Anonymous said...

"How badly is MSN managed?"

Badly enough that they totally missed search and let both GOOG and YHOO establish those businesses right under their nose and get out way in front of them before even reacting. Imagine, you're running MSN and see YHOO buy Overture and you do what - nothing? Ridiculous. As usual, MSN was run by inbred-insiders chosen for their allegiance to management rather than their credentials. Had MSN been run by professional outsiders, results may have been dramatically different. The recent move to put the Ask.com guy in charge is smart but comes way, way, too late.

Anonymous said...

"It would be nice if Microsoft could enter a market without the colossal, multi-billion dollar strategic missteps."

Here, here. MSFT's business plan is to use money and muscle over planning and intelligence. It almost never works (MSN, BSOL, Search, Xbox) but they keep using the same plan. They say the definition of a moron is a person who does the same thing over and over but expects a different result. Time for a leadership change. Strike that - 5 years past due for a change.

Anonymous said...

Mini and fellow Microsofties, a capital distribution plan, such as share repurchase or dividend, never raise the share-price medium term to long term.

True Microsoft's EPS will slightly increase. But note that Microsoft will have $20 billion less dollars in the bank account. That means company as a whole is worth $20 billion less.

Earlier SteveB was always right. There is only one way to raise the shareprice and that is to raise the earning. He was not entirely correct either. Because expected earning increases are usually priced in the share. So you have to keep raising the earning more than market expectation!

For explaination, look at the latest Google earning. They more than double their earnings. Did their share price go up significantly? But it is impressive to keep the share price so high.

I consider Microsoft's big achievement that he kept share-price so high for the last four-five years after the tech bubble burst. Microsoft share is still priced for an impressive future growth. It will be impressive to even keep at this level. For comparison look at CitiBank or Bank of America earnings. They have similar market cap as Microsoft but have much higher earnings. Our shares are priced like we will get that level of earnings in the next 3-4 years.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that Microsoft isn't being run by the cowards that most of the above bloggers are. You guys have no courage to try anything, or to stick with efforts. Windows wasn't a success until Windows 3.0. Thank God you guys weren't at the helm during the Win1.x and Win2.x days, and thank God you guys aren't at the helm now.

Haha, read any insider account of Windows 3. It was started by a couple of guys who were going completely against company strategy at the time (Xenix and OS/2). Oops!

MSFTextrememakeover said...

The problem in a nutshell:

"They've been talking now about these new businesses for five years and really saying, 'They're going to bear fruit. They're going to bear fruit.' And so far that hasn't happened," said analyst Matt Rosoff with independent researchers Directions at Microsoft.

At some point, Rosoff said, analysts might start asking, "Do you abandon ship?"

Anonymous said...

"Home and Entertainment grew feverishly on the top line, but since the company loses money on every Xbox 360 sold, it too was in the red -- to the tune of $414 million on sales of $1.1 billion. The company said it has not sold 5 million of the game consoles and expects to sell a total of 13 million to 15 million by the end of the year.

Analyst Jason Maynard of Credit Suisse cast a cold eye on those figures, saying: "We believe the stock will continue to experience multiple compression until there are signs that the company can generate an adequate return on its emerging businesses."

http://www.thestreet.com/_googlen/newsanalysis/techsoftware/10298569.html?cm_ven=GOOGLEN&cm_cat=FREE&cm_ite=NA

Anonymous said...

To the myopic loudmouths who are still living in the 1990s product based software world: why don’t we just cut your groups (creating a mini-msft!), keep collecting licenses, and instead focus on groups that can actually handle a 1-3 month ship cycle.

Right around 2000, Microsoft changed the flavor of the Kool-Aid to "software as a service" and "web services."

That's too bad, because Microsoft didn't (and doesn't) know s**t about either.

Unfortunately, everybody's drinking the new Kool-Aid, including you, the press, and the anaysts. We're losing the war we invented and share price and public opinion are plummeting as a result. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

"Here, here. MSFT's business plan is to use money and muscle over planning and intelligence."

You have obviously never worked on a "1.0" project at Microsoft. Those of us who have, know exactly what I am talking about!

Anonymous said...

For the past 4+ years, the video game market has indicated the importance of small size, low cost, and fun games versus the latest graphics chips and fastest CPUs. Witness the runaway success of the Nintendo DS and the redesigned PlayStation 2, which is outselling the XBox 360 by embarrassing amounts.

A couple of us in my group (no, we're in Office, not Games) think that MS should create a new developer ecosystem around the Xbox 360, oriented toward the production of Live Arcade titles by small houses. We use our Xbox 360's exclusively for Live Arcade gaming.

Go for the long tail, Microsoft!The only thing you're missing to make it work is a developer ecosystem that makes it possible for them to target your platform without a 5 or 6 figure investment.

Microsoft's Windows platform and its visual development tools won the world when they were available for hundreds of $ and their competitors charged tens of thousands. The result of that move was many developers targeting Windows and ignoring other platforms. The opportunity to do the same for the console gaming platform exists.

Does anyone know what the Live Arcade biz model is? Do we pay game publishers for a title and that's that, or do they pay us to get a title certified and then take a per-copy royalty?

Anonymous said...

Pet the bunny - http://comingzune.com/

Anonymous said...

"What about all us rubes who are able to get our job done, in our standard-issue offices"

That's one of the funniest things about Microsoft. Rewards are set up to be inverse to contribution.

Folks working in Windows and Office get stiffed with respect to levels, compensation and bonus, while teams that have never and will never generate a cent luck out with L66 architect titles and extra perks for everyone.

Demonstrates that the incompetents in HR have no idea about how to control compensation schemes.

Anonymous said...

Discovered the following paper from Microsoft Research on the web about a Zune type device.

http://web.cs.wpi.edu/~claypool/nossdav06/pdf/kirovski.pdf

Anonymous said...

To the nit-wit who is glad that we're backing Xbox. I fear for your retirement! With an investment philosophy like yours, god only knows what you're invested in. Please, please get us out of the consmer entertainment business!

Anonymous said...

The adCenter platform just launched this quarter and our search relevance is still catching up with Google. Given that, it is not surprising that we are behind Google at this point. If we are there a year from now, then your point is more valid.

-
MSN will spend 1.0 billion + next year with about 620-630 million in revenue. Check slide 19 and 20 in the powerpoint you sent.

Anonymous said...

Re: XBox... We built an installed base of 20 million+ XBox1's, then let them go dark virtually overnight. We then replaced it with a system costing 2X that only offers an incremental increase in resolution, so we can play Frogger on it.

This whole "building mindshare" thing confuses me.

Anonymous said...

I don't know which is the more idiotic post...

This one:

I'm glad that Microsoft isn't being run by the cowards that most of the above bloggers are. You guys have no courage to try anything, or to stick with efforts...

Or this one:

Reading some of the moronic comments on this blog would lead one to believe the best thing Microsoft could do is fire everyone and do nothing except sell licenses for existing products...

Neither comment serves this community and I wish Mini would remove such simplistic and childish attacks.

Anonymous said...

All this talk of catching up with Google reminds me of Zeno and his paradox.

Anonymous said...

Folks working in Windows and Office get stiffed ...

And don't forget the building. I left Office with the move to 36. I hear not even Steven liked it enough there to stay.

Anonymous said...

I saw a couple of comments about our investments in MSN, XBox, MBS etc. including comments that we should just stick with WIndows and Office. I am not at all bothered by big bets. Hell no. I came to Microsoft because we make big bets and have huge impact.

I am upset that we do not seem to know when to stop drinking our own cool aid (laced with god knows what) and pull back from these bets. Of course it is awfully hard to know the right time to do this. But I am told that is what VP's and above get paid to do.

Hey, any entrepreneur and VC worth his salt can tell you that getting into new markets and building big businesses like Windows and Office in those markets require smarts, hard work, chutzpah and quite a bit of luck. The early MSFT had all 4 in equal measure. That is why BillG is the richest man in the world and hats off to him for building such awesome businesses.

Let us look forward and assume that we believe we can be #1 or #2 and make gobs of money in the online services business (Dare sorry, I am not picking on your business. I can name 3 or 4 other ones). At this time we know that the online services market is big and growing. The #1 player is growing faster than the market and creating lot of envy and jealousy up here. We have been investing in this space for 10 years when MSN was setup to compete with the then top dog AOL. After 10 years we are still a distant 3rd, with shrinking market share and no profits. Fine, it is not good but I am willing to stay with the big bet. What we need from our leadership is a clear articulation of what our goals are (overtake google, be #2 with 35% market share or whatever), how we are going to achieve our goals and what is it going to take. What I find astonishing is that instead of asking the tough questions, the analysts and the investors alike are letting our leadership get away with "we are best positioned", "we have the best product pipeline ever", "we are making a big bet for the long term" and "we are going to invest 2B more" type stuff.

While I criticize my leadership for failing to be clear on our big bets, I also want to acknowledge that the same leadership has delivered close to 20 B in additional revenues in the past 5-6 years. That is 3 times the size of Google. Nothing to be ashamed of and certainly something that Ballmer should pound the desk on (maybe not with a chair). In about a year, Ballmer will have doubled Microsoft revenue since he took over. The bummer is, this has happened while the stock is treading water and msft employees are questioning the competence of their leadership. SteveB, please understand, you will be measured not by how much you care about developers, how much money you give back to shareholders, how many big bets you take, but by a very simple and visible metric - return on shareholder equity. So there is no shame in acknowledging that and get the best brains in the company together to figure out how we get that number up. I don't think I am smart enough to figure out how we do that without tanking our share price another 30 percent before starting to climb back up. But I have very clear ideas on what we can do better Sorry folks, pitch for higher compensation is not part of my ask. We work for this company, so we share some accountability as well. We at least got paid. The shareholders out there in the meantime have not seen much. I would rather see the share price go up than my salary and bonus increased.

So here are my humble suggestions:

be bold, be aggressive in finding opportunities and please make big bets. I will be happier if we can make these bets before goog and aapl shows how big the market can be

BUT be clear about why we need to do it, who is in charge, how we are going to go about it and what do we expect to get in return

be ruthless about getting out of areas where we cannot win (SteveB, if you are listening, your hero Jack Welch says that this is important)

while failure is a better teacher than success, people who make the same mistakes over and over are not helping any of us or themselves. let us get rid of them. if XBox 720 rollout has the same problems as 360 did, we should know what to do

this is the most important and I think we are in trouble here. we will win or lose based on the talent we can hire from colleges. if we are losing this battle today (my experience recruiting tells me we are), it will be the single most important reason, our company will find it hard to win over the next 10 to 15 years. the new ideas are not going to come from 40 or 50 somethings (sorry I do not want to offend anyone. if it helps, I am in that age group), it will be coming from the 20 or 30 somethings.

finally, I want to hear what our plans are to turn XBox, MSN/Live, MBS, Unified Communication and MED into profitable businesses. (there you go Dare, I called out all the troubled businesses out). If we can't, no problems. Let us have the courage to say so and sell them down the river.

If we have the courage to do this, all the rants, self flagellation and the insane name calling on this forum will go away and mini can make peace with his better half and live happily ever after.

BTW Robert, I do not believe posting anonymously is automatically a sign of cowardice. But name calling and throwing mud at other people's reputation while those people have no way to defend themselves and doing it while hiding behind anonymity does smack of cowardice. Robert, hope you are still listening, even if you are not posting here. I want to have some fun discussions with you on podcasting next time I am in the bay area.

Anonymous said...

Vista is a winner. I just read Intel 2 Duo Core's performance.
and I saw Vista Beta. Both are awesome.

I still have a 1G computer from 4 years ago, now I am going to upgrade by Christmas.

Duo Core+Vista=winner.

Anonymous said...

MGS did acquire Lionhead, makers of the perpetually-delayed and eventually-disappointing Fable.
Guys, did you forget when we bought Rareware? 300 #$@% million dollar for some supposedly first class developer, and what did we get?
Grabbed by the Ghoulies (71%) (A game that looks like it was made by a 3rd class developer around a 3rd grade cartoon license.)
Conker: Live and Reloaded (78%) (A port of a Nintendo game that took something like 4 years?)
Perfect Dark Zero (81%)(Compare this to Half Life 2 or Halo 2, and it must have taken years to develop, too.)
Kameo: Elements of Power (81%)(Yawn...)
And with that development speed we can expect the next bunch of games when the next Xbox comes out. Or will they make launch titles for Vista?

Anonymous said...

We’re dealing with managing and transparently providing distributed services like indexing, data mining, storage, and relational data across hundreds of thousands of machines in datacenters all over the world.

Your inability to manage and provide those distributed services explains the weekly customer-impacting messenger, hotmail, search, etc. outages, right? And I think you meant "tens of thousands of machines in two datacenters on the west coast".

Anonymous said...

"MSN builds this infrastructure."

So does YHOO and GOOG and arguably they do it as well or better. The difference is that they manage to make a TON of money while doing so, whereas MSN doesn't. That the rest of MSFT benefits from your effort, doesn't change that very sad and concerning fact.

Anonymous said...

"I consider Microsoft's big achievement that he kept share-price so high for the last four-five years after the tech bubble burst. Microsoft share is still priced for an impressive future growth. It will be impressive to even keep at this level."

Like the current management team, you've seemingly also given up on growing the stock and are satisfied to just let the air out slowly. Guess what? That isn't going to fly with investors, and folks who think that way are eventually going to be replaced by ones who understand that its their JOB to grow the stock price.

Anonymous said...


To the myopic loudmouths who are still living in the 1990s product based software world: why don’t we just cut your groups (creating a mini-msft!), keep collecting licenses, and instead focus on groups that can actually handle a 1-3 month ship cycle.


To the dumbass who doesn't give any financial justification for MSN aside from a dodgy opportunity cost (billions saved in infrastructure? hmmm):

1-3 month ship cycle != profitable or useful.

Why did GOOG invent accessible search?

What were you super-duper-mega "we're teh innovative and fast" MSN superstars doing instead?

Anonymous said...

finally, I want to hear what our plans are to turn XBox, MSN/Live, MBS, Unified Communication and MED into profitable businesses. (there you go Dare, I called out all the troubled businesses out). If we can't, no problems. Let us have the courage to say so and sell them down the river.

Remember Expedia? SoftImage? I wonder how many (if any) MSFT employees or stockholders are lamenting these sales.

Anonymous said...

"That's one of the funniest things about Microsoft. Rewards are set up to be inverse to contribution.

Folks working in Windows and Office get stiffed with respect to levels, compensation and bonus, while teams that have never and will never generate a cent luck out with L66 architect titles and extra perks for everyone."


Wow. Back when I worked on Office, there wasn't the arrogance displayed in the above comment. There wasn't an "I'm better than everyone else because I work on Office!!!" attitude. Of course, you're probably some new hire that feels special because he happened to be hired by Office/Windows rather than Live. Buddy, you're no better than your fellow workers, just because your product happens to produce higher profit. You got lucky.

Microsoft can't live on Office forever. OpenOffice.org is doing its best to make office suites a free comodity where the public doesn't give a damn about quality, only "free". Microsoft knows that (even if you're too ignorant to realize it yourself).

It's imperative to expand into markets where the simpletons that think all software should be free, produced by free labor, won't do damage. That means web services and hardware.

Anonymous said...

"So does YHOO and GOOG and arguably they do it as well or better. The difference is that they manage to make a TON of money while doing so, whereas MSN doesn't."

You might want to check what happened to YHOO last week. Check GOOG too, for that matter, as doubling profits did nothing to its stock price.

A side note: it's sad that this blog has devolved into nothing more than stock price discussion. I said it before, and I say it again: Microsoft should NOT do anything that's only designed to please the morons on Wall Street, for doing so only results in short-lived spikes, at the detriment of the core of the company.

Profits are the goal of a company, not shareprice based on speculation. As stated above, Microsoft has double the profits now than when Ballmer started as CEO. The Street doesn't care, but over the longterm, they will. And profits leads to higher dividends and the occasional monster dividend payout.

Anonymous said...

MGS did acquire Lionhead, makers of the perpetually-delayed and eventually-disappointing Fable.

Guys, did you forget when we bought Rareware?

I was the one who posted the comment you quoted. If you hadn't taken it out of context, you might have realized that reason I "forgot" to mention Rare was because I was talking about the contraction that occurred beginning in spring 2003 and the Rare purchase happened before that. I mentioned the Lionhead purchase because it happened after (which is why the sentence immediately prior to the part you quoted said "It hasn't all been contraction since then.")

I agree with your assessment on Rare for the most part, but please don't act like I forgot the purchase when it had nothing to do with to the point I was making. You really would have been better off just starting a new post than quoting mine and acting like you were adding new information that I'd "forgotten."

Anonymous said...

"Sorry folks, pitch for higher compensation is not part of my ask"

It is nice to know some people are content with their salaries.

What I am protesting are inconsistencies in salary. It doesn't do wonders for your motivation if you can name more than three people in your immediate environment who have repeatedly made decisions that hurt the product or ship date, even though I pointed out the flaws in their logic early on in the process and have been 100% correct in hindsight (while being labelled a naysayer at the time).

Those people make 2 times to 80 times what I am making.

I am hoping to one day in my life earn a salary that would make me feel like a valued engineer as opposed to a code monkey. I am beginning to suspect that the most efficient way to achieve that goal would be to turn the back on the company I loved and sacrificed a substantial number of years of my life to.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/24/technology/24yahoo.html


With AOL and MSN from Microsoft losing share and plagued by strategic confusion, Yahoo is in a position to further solidify its lead as the Web’s most popular full-service Internet portal, so any incursions by Google into areas like e-mail and maps are a threat

Anonymous said...

As both Scoble and Michael Martine point out - Scoble blogline Sigh. Microsoft’s marketers will never learn

the Microsoft marketing engine - not just Zuneland - needs work. Their http://comingzune.com/ newsletter campaign is obnoxious: "we're all friends here" - (it seems like Microsoft has forfeited the right to make that statement.) "we'll keep you posted" - (actually I think the industry is going to keep Microsoft posted.)

Anonymous said...

You really would have been better off just starting a new post than quoting mine and acting like you were adding new information that I'd "forgotten."
I'm sorry about that, that was bad writing from my side. I didn't want to say that you've forgotten information, but I wanted to pick up on the "perpetually-delayed and eventually-disappointing" part.

Anonymous said...

the Microsoft marketing engine - not just Zuneland - needs work. Their http://comingzune.com/ newsletter campaign is obnoxious

I think this has more to do with community/peer music sharing (proximity based sharing, not limewire style)

I think - like with the 360 - MS is going to surprise alot of people with this.

Anonymous said...

Be careful what you wish against!

Like Al Pacino in Godfather III, XBox has a hold on Steve that will not let up. Now we have (holding nose) Zune. I can understand it represents a way to leverage existing XBox channel infrastructure, but the broader issue remains: we are getting deeper into an industry with increasingly lousy returns. Seems eerily reminiscent of the rush by Cable companies to monetize households (remember the $/subscriber hype of the late nineties?) Those Cable co's have yet to recover (those that are left, that is).

Why Zune? We could take the same $ and put it behind SQL and get a much greater return, and at the same time accelerate the fight against ORCL. There are those that will claim we are able to make both investments. First, it's a question of degree, and exciting products like SQL are being grossly under-invested in relative to unproven investments like XBox; second, it's a question of focus, and it can be argued that XBox is a distraction MS cannot afford (but that a spun-off publicly held games division could) BTW, interesting idea from the focus-on-Vista-as-games-platform blogger above.

Mini, I weep with you every time an Xbox is sold, and with the introduction of Zune, our weeping could become lamentation of Greek chorus proportions

Anonymous said...

I think this has more to do with community/peer music sharing (proximity based sharing, not limewire style)

Got it. Even at that, I would rather see features than watch toons. A friend of mine bought an ipod at noon and returned it by 2PM. No WMA support - highlight that. Wireless download is completely enticing – illustrate that. I thought the clip came across as a bit arrogant. My 0.02 worth.

Anonymous said...

"MSN will spend 1.0 billion + next year with about 620-630 million in revenue. Check slide 19 and 20 in the powerpoint you sent."

Focus on the profit, not revenue!! When will the people at MS learn?

James said...

I think - like with the 360 - MS is going to surprise alot of people with this.

The only thing surprising about the 360 at this point is how exactly like the XBox it is. It's a decent console and all but the hardware and the titles available now and in the immediate future are 100% in line with the original XBox. Xbox Live Arcade is its one bright spot but Nintendo and Sony both have similar services in the pipeline.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the business like MSN and Xbox are defensive. Sure, MSN's lost billions over the last 10 years, but if Microsoft had not been in this business, and AOL had run away unchallenged and moved more and more core functionality online, that might have cut into consumer Windows sales.

Sure, Xbox has lost $5B and counting, but if Sony had come out with an Internet-connected super-consoel, that might have cut into consumer Windows sales.

You can say, "oh, pooh, that never would have happened." But isn't that what a good defensive strategy looks like--stopping competitors to your core businesses before they get a leg up?

We'll see, but I bet in five years the company will still be Windows, Office, Server, and a couple of break-even or slightly profitable businesses. But consumer PC sales will still be growing at 10% per year. Meanwhile, Sony will be a shell of its former self (there will be no PS4), Google's share price will be 1/10 as it is today and it will no longer be a threat, and the iPod will be the answer to a trivia question.

Anonymous said...

Well let's just hope that Zune was not designed by the folks that brought us Origami. Origami's bulky curved design was a nice nostalgic and hilarious throwback to the 90's though.

On a side note, if we are supposed to be an Internet Search aware company, why are we launching products that are so easy to misspell when searching online shopping sites? Both Zoon and Oragami are hard to spell...

Anonymous said...

At Intel there's 1 manager for each 8 IC.

At MS? We have the following numbers by division:


KevinJo
#Of FTE: 20,840
#Of Managers: 4,707
Percentage: 22%
Proportion: 1 manager for 4.5 IC

JeffR
#Of FTE: 6965
#Of Managers: 1553
Percentage: 22%
Proportion: 1 manager for 4.5 IC

RobbieB
#Of FTE: 6107
#Of Managers: 1616
Percentage: 26%
Proportion: 1 manager for 3.8 IC

I exported headtrax for the 3 big kahunas, expoted only email and reportsto, threw it at SQL Server and ran the following query:

select count(*),reportsto from kevinjo group by reportsto order by count(*)


The number of managers was the total rows. It is interesting to note that about 1/2 of managers have 3 or less reports.

Anonymous said...

"It is nice to know some people are content with their salaries."

Sorry, I did not intend to convey what you are interpreting. Should have added a "here" at the end of my statement. Whether I am content or not with my salary, is something I would only discuss with my manager. I believe, that is where it belongs and not on this forum.

"Perhaps the business like MSN and Xbox are defensive. Sure, MSN's lost billions over the last 10 years, but if Microsoft had not been in this business, and AOL had run away unchallenged and moved more and more core functionality online, that might have cut into consumer Windows sales.

Sure, Xbox has lost $5B and counting, but if Sony had come out with an Internet-connected super-consoel, that might have cut into consumer Windows sales"


I do not get your logic here. If these initiatives are core to our business and we lose billions of dollars on them over 10 years, then we have a much bigger problem than I thought. If you cannot make money in your core business for over 10 years, it is time to go do something else.

I am praying that we do not go after iPod with Zume with the same strategy that we are employing with XBox against PS2. We will just double our losses.


At Intel there's 1 manager for each 8 IC.

At MS? We have the following numbers by division:
"


I know the point you are trying to make, but aren't we putting confidential info. out here?

Anonymous said...

"As stated above, Microsoft has double the profits now than when Ballmer started as CEO."

Absolutely not. Revenue has doubled but profits are only about 30% higher than in 00. I agree that MSFT shouldn't taken actions just to pump the stock ST. On the other hand, it absolutely needs to start addressing why the stock has underperformed so miserably - one reason being that inability to track revenue with earnings. Investors are owners and if you're unable to translate success into ways they can monetize, then you have a REAL problem. Hiding behind "patience" or "taking the long-term" view or "eventually the market will care" is getting increasingly tired. .

Anonymous said...

I would much rather see Microsoft throw their money away on gadgets than search. Gadgets at least leverage OS software that Microsoft is halfway decent at making, rather than a search engine that's always a distant third.

Anonymous said...

>Sure, MSN's lost billions over the last 10 years, but if
> Microsoft had not been in this business, and AOL
> had run away unchallenged [chop]

>Sure, Xbox has lost $5B and counting, but if Sony had
> come out with [munch]

That's called "playing not to lose".

When ya gonna start playing to WIN?

Others are. Ah gar-on-TEE.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the idea of slimmer orgs with less worthless overhead, but focusing on "span of control" is, to be open and, well, open, it's kind of lame.

It's a dumb metric worthy only of a PHB. For example, let's say you have a team of four devs. That's a pretty useful size for a feature team - enough to get quite a bit done but not so many they get in each other's way. Suppose that team had one Lead and four ICs, but the lead mostly did programming, including technical leadership of the team (architecture, code reviews, mentoring, what have you) and a couple of times a year sits through calibration meetings. That sounds like a highly functional team with limited overhead. Take three of those teams and have them report to a Dev manager and you have an average "span of control" of 3.0, but in reality you've got the equivalent of 10-12 ICs and one full-time manager. Pretty good.

On the other hand, what about the PMs? In most of the Windows org, they're the equivalent of management overhead, since they mostly run meetings and write reports. Some PMs do useful IC work, but even the best are half managemnet overhead, yet they don't count in "span of control" metrics cause they're ICs.

The least functional groups I've seen actually have a Dev Lead with 8 or 10 directs and 2 or 3 non-technical PMs who think all the devs work for them. Those groups look golden on your "span of control" reports, but really are 10 ICs floundering with no technical direction because between tracking status and wrangling the PMs, the Lead has no time to stay on top of the technology and the PMs don't think it's their job and couldn't do it if it was.

Far better to replace those three PMs with one guy who can write specs and split the team in two do the Dev Leads can be real leads.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

Got it. Even at that, I would rather see features than watch toons. A friend of mine bought an ipod at noon and returned it by 2PM. No WMA support - highlight that. Wireless download is completely enticing – illustrate that. I thought the clip came across as a bit arrogant. My 0.02 worth.

What exactly does WMA offer that the following don't?

AAC, Protected AAC, MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible, Apple Lossless, WAV, AIFF

The Zune better offer more to customers than just another audio file format. Most customer's won't know the difference and won't care. The iPod will do everything they need it to do.

The only remotely compelling feature of the Zune is wireless local proximity music sharing. It remains to be seen whether or not such a concept will take off, how it will be allowed by the rights owners of the content involved, and how it will impact battery life.

Other than that, who cares about the Zune? It'll be just another also ran.

Anonymous said...

>>Sure, Xbox has lost $5B and counting, but if Sony had come out with an Internet-connected super-consoel, that might have cut into consumer Windows sales"

>I do not get your logic here. If these initiatives are core to our business and we lose billions of dollars on them over 10 years, then we have a much bigger problem than I thought. If you cannot make money in your core business for over 10 years, it is time to go do something else.


I'm not the original poster, but I think I get his logic. It's not that Xbox is a core business. It's a peripheral business, but it keeps Sony from getting established in the peripheral business in a way that threatens the core business.

I must admit that I never looked at Xbox that way, but I see the point. It might make sense.

MSN, on the other hand, while it worked to keep AOL from dominating the online world, I'm not sure if it's got enough to keep Google from dominating, and thereby threatening the core. I don't think MSN has shown the strength yet to do that, but maybe it will.

MSS

Anonymous said...

I do not get your logic here. If these initiatives are core to our business and we lose billions of dollars on them over 10 years, then we have a much bigger problem than I thought. If you cannot make money in your core business for over 10 years, it is time to go do something else.

You're right, you don't understand my logic. I'm hypothesizing that these businesses are NOT core. They are defensive. That is, they were put in place for the sole purpose of responding to a possible threat to Microsoft's real core business: Windows. Which has 80% profit margins on revenues of more than $13 billion. And is still growing a respectable 8% to 12% annually. Nice business. There's no better business outside of dealing cocaine. If Microsoft had NOT entered these defensive markets, a competitor might have come along to cut more money from PC sales.

As far as playing-to-win goes, you're absolutely right--MS has never played to win in areas such as MSN and Xbox. I agree it's high time they started. In other words, I'm not saying their strategy has been a GREAT one, only that they've done a fine job of keeping the core businesses growing while throwing away a relatively insignificant amount on these new businesses. What, $15 billion? Maybe 20 if you add in MBS? Big deal--cash alone is at $30B and growing so fast they don't know what to do with it.

Look at Microsoft's history: the billions of investments in TV platforms, cable companies, and so on. I would suggest most of these were DEFENSE, intended primarily to keep the Windows monopoly secure.

Of course, Ballmer can't come out and say that or the antitrust litigators would swoop down.

I am praying that we do not go after iPod with Zume with the same strategy that we are employing with XBox against PS2. We will just double our losses.

Actually, there's a big difference: Apple sells the iPod at a tidy profit, and Microsoft will do the same for Zune. Console gaming is different--console makers are willing to take a loss for some time in hopes of eventually making it up on game sales. The difference is that Sony breaks even on hardware after 2 to 3 years in a console cycle where MS has never broken even on hardware. BUT...with this generation, Sony will be losing $400+ per box out of the gate, meaning that MS will eventually show better results than them. Sure, it took two generations and 5+ years, but that was the goal.

Anonymous said...

Let me see if I get this straight. After 4-5 years at the CRM game, Bus Sol finally made a profit on the year of just $20+M. And now, MSFT is going to blow $500M launching Zune alone? How does MSFT expect to EVER drive profitability in new ventures when it burdens them with such ridiculous upfront costs? That $500M launch alone, virtually guarantees that Zune's payback will be measured in decades even if it is successful. Stupid. Ballmer should ask Harvard for a refund on his "education" - clearly, is was deficient.

Anonymous said...

Oh gosh, I've been reading this blog for a while now. It's somewhat gratifying because it validates some of the feelings that I've had. I'm a mid-career ex-silcon valley person. I came to Microsoft under a wicked bait and switch. Has that happened to anyone else? The overwhelming thing I've seen is that people at this company are valued soley for their tenure and not for their expertise or experience. In many ways I feel outsiders are punished for having a broader world view. Ideas like SaaS were considered heresy and "bad attitude" last year, and now they seem to be cool at MS--only 6 or so years behind other internet vendors. I think MS will experience a lot of pain and failure in the near future unless there is a significant change in who's getting to the executive ranks. Can you think of a more insider dominated company? How motivated really are 18 year veteran multimillionaires to do something different? How able even, if they've seen nothing else but the tiny walled off offices and 1+1=2 of MS?