Well, allow me to be the last blog to shout into the echo chamber about Niall Kennedy... doing what? Oh yeah: Leaving Microsoft. Lots of high profile folks have been leaving Microsoft lately and I haven't been making a big show out of many of them, but for some reason, Niall's short-time at Microsoft got my attention.
Two interesting snippets, one from Niall's entry and one from the luscious Valleywag (I so wish we had a Seattle version of Valleywag):
(1) Windows Live is under some heavy change, reorganization, pullback, and general paralysis and unfortunately my ability to perform, hire, and execute was completely frozen as well.
(2) Wag: Microsoft seems friendly toward people returning after leaving for their own startups. I've seen a few people leave for other companies and return with no problem. Do you see yourself ever doing that?
Niall: Not really, but perhaps if the company was split up first and there was some new project I was excited about that could only be done at a company such as Microsoft.
Wag: Split up?
Niall: Splitting the company into desktop, server, online, and possibly gaming divisions. It's just too big.
Lots of echoes in the chamber rolled up at TechMeme. Rumblings of cut-backs and paralysis and Microsoft being the new IBM. I certainly agree with the desire for Microsoft to be a way smaller company (though I think every time I say that, or ring a bell, 100 more people get hired). I'm not bought into the split-up, except for the sobering benefit of cutting off the cash-cow money flow that allows an abundance of waste and bad decisions elsewhere in the company.
What does it mean to try to hire a superstar today or to grow into a superstar? Can superstars actually get things done at Microsoft? And does this show a revealing shift that all that Live stuff we yanked out of the plucky start.com as a grand, confusing rebranding effort is taking a moment to pause and figure life out? Did we wake up from the Live-demo-bender, rub our face and shake our head, and ask, "What the hell was I thinking?"
A compelling vision would be great right about now. And not a dorky wired-up clipboard that has seemed to have dematerialized. A vision around making money and doing things that, if I told people sucking on a Frappuccino about, they'd say, "Oooh, that's cool. When can I do that?" And if someone is talented and motivated to get things done, how do you unblock them to make it so?
Update: the initial bunch of comments don't weep for Niall and are pretty much summarized as "good riddance and Live is doing super-fine." Maybe more progress will be more exit-door seekers. One can hope.
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