Sunday, May 06, 2007

MicroYa! and Thinking About a Big Reboot

(A refreshing post. Not because of the content, but rather just because there hasn't been a post here for a while. First, some administrivia: the new Blogger template here has at the bottom of the post a link to the comment stream URL. Plus some other goo. Another note: hey, tried running the blog without moderation for a while to see if it would decay into the lunacy you see sometimes in the InsideMS blog. Not so. I might try this more often.)

Given past jinxing, I hesitate to mention how MSFT is above $30 again. The $30+ price is too late for the set of stock options that expired a week prior, however. Leadership who wander around saying how stock doesn't matter have to take a moment to remember what it was like to be in a work-group when the stock was excelling. Folks were motivated and excited and engaged. Yes, they did put in extra effort and - at least in their minds - saw a direct connection between their contribution and their team to the Microsoft bottom line.

And now?

As the stock meandered towards $31 that MSFT/YHOO rumor out of the New York Post came out. My first thought of a Microsoft / Yahoo! merger was: "Oh, yeah... Steve Ballmer and Terry Semel: together at last." That was followed by imagining a film being shot in heaven, with Rodney Dangerfield and John Candy playing CEO roles of two Wall Street stock-price losers out to combine forces and get some due respect. Only to be foiled by those rascally Google boys... and I'm not quite sure who would play those rolls roles.

Regarding the MicroYa! rumor, my feelings echo that of Brier Dudley: Microsoft merging with Yahoo!?!#@!!!. Mr. Scoble does a pretty good cafe stool analysis, too, regarding the overlap and issues involved. Of course, my shallow-self freaked out over the possibility of incorporating 11,700 new employees into Microsoft. Well, no, it would be less than that. You figure it would serve as a proper time for the remaining superstars to detach and go into Start-up-Ville. We could hope for some fun, though, by Thunderdoming up the overlapping groups: two product groups go in, only one comes out!

Looking at Yahoo!, the main thing I keep reflecting on is: I like flickr. And having more data centers couldn't hurt. The rest seems to be as scattered and randomized as most of Microsoft's online offerings and initiatives. But I see Microsoft's online and connected story finally coming together in a pretty impressive series of well thought-out releases. Yahoo! still seems to be on a dithering path with interfaces that get more and more DHTML'ized noisy and busy overtime. Seven plus or minus two, right?

Anyway, going a bit backwards in time, interesting posts about the financial earnings:

(1) MSFTExtremeMakeover: Show us what you've got.

(2) Joe Wilcox: Microsoft Q3 2007 by the Numbers. Even taking out the results of the deferral, the results are impressive. Now, scanning through the comments, it's interesting that Mr. Wilcox is engaged in a debate whether he's a Microsoft basher or not. I've noticed in the past that his comments have attracted people who like to engage in their inner /. in their hatred of Microsoft.

(3) Todd Bishop: Microsoft revenues up 32%, profits beat estimates and the follow-up Microsoft shares rise 3.5%, both posts reminding us of the big plunge that happened a year ago. Mr. Bishop also posts about my new favorite guy, Andrew Rashbass, in Economist publisher pokes fun at Microsoft. The highlight:

He got in several zingers while speaking on a panel discussion after a keynote presentation by Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division. One of them: "I thought it was great, by the way, that Robbie Bach was giving you a talk, which 2,000 people attend, about monetization and business -- and he just lost $300 million in the last quarter," Rashbass said.

What, else, what else... the major review season is (unfortunately) right around the corner. Just when you thought all that career management was over and you could be productive comes the march of myMicrosoft 1.5, or 2.0, or whatever's next. Wake me when it's at 3.0, because then I'm sure it will be mostly ironed out and people can focus on doing their job versus managing the perception of doing their job. Personally, I don't think we need incremental changes at this point. Given where we are and the challenges we have, we are not going to succeed based on incremental steps.

Sure, the Starbucks machines are great, but we need a company-wide Back to Basics (or a rewrite of our basics) from the CEO level to shrug off the past and focus on what's important today:

  • Delivering: products, solutions, whatever. You don't get rewarded for talking about things, you get rewarded for shipping things.
  • Deliver Often: efficient organization around not only delivering but also being able to quickly deliver quality results and features again.
  • Team Success: teamwork needs to be rewarded over individual success. Teams that work well and that deliver and deliver often should get exceptional rewards.
  • Streamlining: if it's not profitable and not going to be profitable, we can walk away. Also, we don't have to ship a product in every possible imaginable software market in the world. People are efficiently placed just where they both want to be and need to be.

We need a reboot. A reset. A refocusing on what's essential for Microsoft to succeed and realign its culture into the fantastic, crazy, wonderful place that it has all the raw potential to be. And by hitting the reset button, it gives people the permission to push the boundaries and align with the positive goals of success.

We'll see what this summer holds. If we were going to hit the reset button and align against some basic, positive goals, what would you get behind?

Updated: as always, thanks for the roly-poly syntax check.

86 comments:

FARfetched said...

According to later reports, the WSJ said that "merger talks are no longer active." Whom to believe, the NY Post or the Wall Street Journal?

The WSJ went on to suggest that Microsoft might sell some of its online properties to Yahoo… which I'm sure would make you happy. ;-)

Anonymous said...

>We need a reboot.

I agree, but if a company cannot seem to manage itself, how on earth do you think a Yahoo merger would work? It wouldn't. Even the analysts said so. (do a search on the fallout for links, and look at the sudden reverse in MS stock prices when merger talks suddenly were thrust in the news).

No, Microsoft must first put its own house in order, and this cannot possibly happen with the current partner load.

Anonymous said...

What would I get behind? Pretty much what you mentioned above, Mini. We need to return to the basics, but not in one fell swoop.

Let's start simple...how about getting into a predictable rhythm...establish cycles for product releases. Desktop O/S every 18 months, server O/S every 18 months (offset by 9 months from the desktop).

Everybody (almost everybody) knows about Microsoft Solutions Framework....the ITERATIVE release cycle. If we implement MSF (we should practice what we preach) for all product teams, would it not make things easier? I would think this gives the product teams way more predictability (for example, a cut-off date for vision/scope approved so that coding can begin).

We do this in the field in Microsoft Services all the time. It works with customers, no matter how chaotic the environment, because it establishes time limits and deadlines, and predictability.

Anonymous said...

I would get behind MS actually being a people_ready business. Let's walk the talk!

Anonymous said...

Can we please stop with the Microsoft / Yahoo merger talks? Let's say Microsoft buys Yahoo. What has Microsoft done to show that it's competing at all with Google? In the past year, Microsoft has shipped Live.com and utterly botched it. The result of which is Sinofsky is out, Payne is gone, and query share is busy bottoming out at 10%. Why would Gates or Ballmer believe giving the team another 30% query share will do anything?

OK, now let's say Microsoft sells MSN to Yahoo, exits the search and ad industry. While Yahoo has hung on to their share, their revenue has been flat for the past year and a half compared to Google's steadily increasing revenue. Panama has been released, but hasn't shown to be a change from their previous technology. So, what would Yahoo do with an additional 10% of query share?

Plus, there's a huge cultural difference. Yahoo is a huge Linux shop in California. Microsoft would want to put Yahoo on Microsoft technology, which would take years. Yahoo would want to put MSN on Linux technology, which would also take years. Developers on either side would leave rather than move / join, and in Yahoo's case, they'd easily move over to Google.

At the end of the day, Yahoo isn't a huge threat to Microsoft. They're going off in a media direction, and it's unclear that it's really interesting. Yeah, flickr is cool, but what else? del.icio.us is great for geeks, but who else? So you could combine Hotmail and Yahoo mail, and MSN and Yahoo messenger networks. BFD. Does this really raise any revenue?

At the end of the day, I see only one reason for Microsoft and Yahoo to merge: to prevent a Yahoo and Google merger. If Google picked up Yahoo, they'd have a monopoly on the online ad business. Microsoft would then have a legit complaint to the SEC, unlike the Doubleclick whining. But otherwise, it's just mental masturbations of analysts who can't see a way for either Yahoo or Microsoft to win.

Anonymous said...

Why does blogger only let me use like 1/3 of the screen?

It's very difficult to read the comments in the new format Mini. Please change back.

Anonymous said...

Is this not minimsft?

Microsoft is too big and bloated to either change OR reboot. Today's "hot group" will eventually be consumed by entropy and inertia, hope for a soaring stock price will again turn to despair, and the cycle will repeat.

It will take an enormous expentiture of energy (money++, headcount--) to break the cycle - something Microsoft has been unwilling to do.

But it's fun to dream of the mythical Great Reboot!

E=mc^2 and there's a lot of mass.

: )

Anonymous said...

That'll be roles, not rolls.

Anonymous said...

> Only to be foiled by those rascally Google boys... and I'm not quite sure who would play those rolls.

Mini, given the Google boys aren't quite as corpulent as steveb, should that be roles?

Anonymous said...

I think Sam Kinison would be a better Ballmer. He liked yelling a lot too :-)

Anonymous said...

>At the end of the day, I see only one reason for Microsoft and Yahoo to merge:

My theory is that Gates realizes Yahoo has the better search engine, and that is really all he wants, and since his process of hiring 10,000 to find one genius has not worked, well, he's now in desperation mode.

Anonymous said...

>hey, tried running the blog without moderation for a while to see if it would decay into the lunacy.

Yeah, I noticed and resisted sending in the frothy humor. . . but alas, you decided not to trust us again, so, here we are.

Did ya ever notice that the Disney movie Pirate series kind of feels like a phony horribly written ride at Disneyworld for six year olds and it feels much like the intellectual depth of Vista Wow marketing? I miss the CRF.

Arrggghhh, me peg legs a swellin.

Anonymous said...

>Please change back.

snnff. I feel your pain man. Just click the header instead of the comments link and all your pain will go away.

Geeze I sure hope you don't work for Microsoft, cuz if you do it would explain a lot.

Anonymous said...

>> Microsoft would want to put Yahoo on Microsoft technology, which would take years.

True. And that's a stupid thing to do. We've done it only once with Hotmail and that was necessary for Windows to become a decent server OS (not good, just decent - Hotmail is still partially UNIX based from what I heard). Repeating something like this would be stupid.

>> Yahoo would want to put MSN on Linux technology, which would also take years.

I don't think they'd do it. For them it doesn't make much of a difference what OS their code is run on. Sure, they'll have to hire twice as many admins, but those folks can be in India, so it's not that much of a burden.

Anonymous said...

Lisa Brummel sold around 1.3 million in MS stock last week.

Speaks to her confidence in the efforts to make it a better place though I'm sure she'd have not sold if she were only paid a small amount more (end sarcasm)

Anonymous said...

"Why does blogger only let me use like 1/3 of the screen?

It's very difficult to read the comments in the new format Mini. Please change back."

++
Don't know if this is a Mini thing, because it looks like all the Blogger comment pages look like this now. The new format(Only ~50 characters wide?) does make it hard to read, though.

Maybe Mini could request a change to google management :-|.

Anonymous said...

"Also, we don't have to ship a product in every possible imaginable software market in the world."

I take issue on that comment. To me there is some method in the madnesss. Microsoft is in so many software categories for the same reason they leave so many integrated applications not fully implemented... to set the example that absolutely everything can be done on windows. It seems to me that in many cases it is worth the loss to promote competition within the windows platform.

Anonymous said...

As part of that reset, maybe Microsoft could design an operating system that is easy to use

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070422083715451

Anonymous said...

MSFT will not reboot, it will slowly limp along in plateau mode for years and years. I left last summer after a decade + and have to say that the rest of the world doesn't give a rip about MSFT. MSFT speaks to MSFT community partners and the customers that it can keep. But the rest of world has moved on, looking for best solutions at best price and don't care about 'the stack'. So while MiniMSFT used to be entertaining, it's actually getting to be more of a sad place, where people hope that things will change, repeat the same things and just wallow around looking for some direction or crumb from above. Sad really. Professionals who are motivated, creative, energetic and positive are really important, and MSFT used to own the market on this type of talent. But older, less risk averse MSFT'ees who are sitting on the logo, wondering "if" things can get better, "if" management will change, "if" the next iteration of some enterprise application may move the stock price 15 bucks are the mainstays today... it bums me out to think what it could have been if only Steve hadn't gone too far into the enterprise, and Bill hadn't mandated the Windows foundation for so long. It could have been a company that moved technology along, instead of trying to only move its own technology along.

I was one of each of the above employees for many years (first the energetic one, then the hapless "if" employee), having drank the kool-aid... and now that my head is back on straight and I'm refreshed to be in a world of technology and not just Windows, it feels wonderful.

Sure I check in here every once in a while but it gets longer between visits, and it doesn't feel like anything has changed, at least for the better.

Want to change the world? Grow a pair and head out into the great wild of Seattle and build a startup. It's a damn shame that the Seattle scene isn't littered with more risk takers - the startup ecosystem there with all of that talent could be fabulous... but the venture, angel and startup space is very limited, the shadow cast by Redmond too great... people are afraid of trying it for fear of not being able to be hired back into MSFT, or their friends may not speak to them any longer (trust me, these are both excuses friends have given me for not building a startup). Get out there, get in the world and change it. It won't be by building that next feature into MOM or Exchange... but you have knowledge of things you could build... use it.

Anonymous said...

Why does blogger only let me use like 1/3 of the screen?

It's very difficult to read the comments in the new format Mini. Please change back.


One option is to use Firefox and Platypus extension. You can relax the content to full page.

Anonymous said...

The result of which is Sinofsky is out,

Did something happen that I missed, has Sinofsky already been booted from Windows?

Please clarify, I could not find any news on this.

Anonymous said...

Lisa is a seller...

http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/ticker/article.aspx?Symbol=US:MSFT&Feed=AP&Date=20070507&ID=6832709

and had good timing too: $30.95

Anonymous said...

OK, now let's say Microsoft sells MSN to Yahoo
We actually tried when MSN broke up into MSN and Windows Live but it didn't fly, neither to AOL.
Mini, i think you nailed it when you wrote about managing your job vs. managing the perception of doing your job. That is at the core of Ms problem. Majority of time is spent at managing perceptions. There is a rough competition to get aircover, that is what It is so broken that positive perception has become the success criteria. It doesn't really matter what you ultimately deliver or most importantly how long it takes, as long as your VP leaves the room thinking that you have it all figured out, your boss shines and you move along.
is all about.
I've been at Ms for almost 10 years and for the first time i am ready to leave. I am seriously considering to "litter seattle" with a start up and the ultimate reason is that i am very tired of spending my professional life managing perceptions. Worse comes to worst, i come back 2 or 3 levels higher and continue to manage perceptions.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft doesn't intend to merge with Yahoo. They can get more mileage out of Yahoo's reputation than Yahoo's assets. They want to appear to the world side-by-side with Yahoo as the best of friends. Only tying enough of their business to Yahoo so that if Google continues their dominance, Microsoft can point at Google and say: "look how poorly Google is treating Yahoo (and by inference, us.") Microsoft partners are not the boldest lot. When the tide is in, they are baseball bat wielding Sun-Tzu quoting killers, but on a level playing field they are a weak-kneed and tearsome bunch. (Exhibit A is how they paid AT&T to hold their hand while they pleaded with the DOJ to declare Google a monopoly.) Make no mistake, in any friendly business venture with Yahoo, Microsoft will use Yahoo as a public shoulder to cry on, looking all in the world like a lost lamb. But inside the lamb costume, Microsoft will be licking its chops. Watching and waiting ...

Anonymous said...

As part of that reset, maybe Microsoft could design an operating system that is easy to use

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070422083715451


That article's incredible.

I know it's just one of many but this particular narrative (and the discussion threads it spawned) is, for various reasons, profoundly depressing.

The author tries to burn a disc.

The grueling, maddening, infuriating saga to follow (as his experience manages to touch upon more Vista problems than can conveniently be listed in a mini-msft comment thread) makes one realize that there aren't just problems with Vista -- there's a vast, coordinated, interdependent web of crippling problems where the operating system should be.

The author's story includes troubling anecdotes (non-scientific polling, yeah, but still) about vendors not offering Vista machines or not letting users near them in the store (because, apparently, the chances of a "display" Vista machine ending up in some horrifying state of 1/2-completed self-rape approach 100%).

Various Vista defenders lamely step in, but their defenses don't really hold water and don't even feel sincere.

The Vista situation is much, much worse than anyone imagines. (And no, I'm not basing this on the one single article; it's one of dozens I've seen everywhere. It's just a particularly telling one.

Anonymous said...

My theory is that Gates realizes Yahoo has the better search engine, and that is really all he wants, and since his process of hiring 10,000 to find one genius has not worked, well, he's now in desperation mode.

I thought we were all geniuses! We answered all the brain-teasers correctly, didn't we? Why doesn't the world simply accept us as overlords? :)

Anonymous said...

>> Microsoft doesn't intend to merge with Yahoo

That'd actually be fun for branding folks. Microsoft Windows Live Yahoo Hotmail. Need I say more.

Anonymous said...

Lisa is a seller...

http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/ticker/article.aspx?Symbol=US:MSFT&Feed=AP&Date=20070507&ID=6832709

and had good timing too: $30.95


Is there a site that shows what all the execs have dumped so far?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 6:56:00 said
"the rest of the world doesn't give a rip about MSFT"

That mirrors two recent posts I've seen that also elaberate on why Microsoft is no longer important or relevant to many users, especially of the new generation.

Microsoft is Dead
http://www.paulgraham.com/microsoft.html

And a very similar one about half way down the Diversity topic on InsideMS by L
(don't want to quote her name without permission but she touched a real nerve)
[was under Diversity as in software diversity and how MS people nearly always use MS software, but outside people rarely do unless they have to]

This is seriously worrying stuff for long term growth, and for our career satisfaction in working on important, interesting, leading edge stuff.

Anonymous said...

I'm a fairly recent blue badger, working as a consultant on the East Coast, so perhaps I'm missing something in terms of the company's vision, but talk about a merge with Yahoo (Yahoo?) seems like a move of desperation. I just don't see the value added.

When the conversation turns to Vista, I'm usually asked something to the effect of "why should we upgrade? How is it better than XP?"

After 5 years of development, I find that question more difficult to answer than it should be, and my response comes off sounding weak and unconvincing. I wish we had something better to offer our customers.

On the upside, the 2007 Office stack is exploding in popularity out here. Our enterprise customers out here are eagerly adopting this at a rate I wouldn't have thought possible.

Anonymous said...

The Vista situation is much, much worse than anyone imagines. (And no, I'm not basing this on the one single article; it's one of dozens I've seen everywhere. It's just a particularly telling one.

Well guess what, no one cares. Most people (consumers) are tolerating XP because it does what people require... simple stuff... surf the web, listen to music, read email, check out the weather report...

No one cares about Vista. No one wants the hassle of upgrading. There is no logical reason too... We, consumers, will not benefit at all from Vista. yes, it "looks" pretty... but guess what paying over $2000 for a new machines to run Vista makes no sense.

And Yes, Microsoft just had a stellar quarter from Vista but that is mostly due to corporate america which I think MS has them locked up in this new upgrade agreement that forces them to upgrade, good or bad, to anything that is released. Unfortunately one day, corporate america will decide they need to cut cost again and will start looking at other expenses like technology and maybe will not be that willing to sign up again.

So, yes it is worse then anyone thinks. Though, I am sure upper managements knows. However, They are going to let on until they unload their stocks at which point they don't give a S***.

Anonymous said...

"Is there a site that shows what all the execs have dumped so far?"

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/it?s=MSFT

Anonymous said...

Insider trading?

One spot: http://finance.yahoo.com/q/it?s=MSFT.

This has been a very active May already! Very good timing for Bill, Lisa, Kevin and the ever-selling Bach. I think this shows a total lack of confidence that the stock is going to get above $31 that much.

Oh. And I guess it shows a total lack of confidence altogether. I remember when they got rid of the 15% ESPP. Why? Because people we're flipping their stocks and not holding on to them.

I'd love for Ballmer to lecture us again about holding onto your stocks, with his senior leadership onstage, vowing they are going to hold onto their stocks from now on, too.

Anonymous said...

I'd love for Ballmer to lecture us again about holding onto your stocks

Ballmer holds onto his because they are voting shares, and he wants to be holding as big a club as possible when the board comes to oust him.

Anonymous said...

Oh, the stock will get above $31. I predict it will get real close to $31.41 without going over, until just after 7/31/2007 (when the next round of options will expire underwater). After that, it will go slightly over that mark.

I've been around a long time. Seen alot of changes, but all for the worse. Wish I could hop in a time machine right now and have never come to this god-forsaken place, where millions are made by high-level morons with names everyone knows, on the backs of people who are merely numbers in cost centers. People whose jobs are being shipped overseas, to cut costs that don't need cutting. Wanna cut some costs? Get rid of a few layers of middle management. I for one won't miss their irritating emails covered with pictures and nonsense we don't read anyway.

I've given a good chunk of my LIFE to this company, earning ridiculous amounts of money for people who I don't even know, who don't care who I am or what I do. It's demoralizing and depressing. I'm ashamed to have ever worked for these people. The leeches are everywhere.

Who is John Galt?

Anonymous said...

where millions are made by high-level morons with names everyone knows, on the backs of people who are merely numbers in cost centers.

You need to think long and hard about this statement of yours. Some of those "high level morons" wrote windows, sql, office, etc. They are THE REASON you have a job in the first place. They made their mark on this company working very long hours writing, testing, and shipping code that has delivered BILLIONS of dollars a year to mighty msft. The "cash cow" thats windows and office didn't just fall from the sky. The partners that you are trying to insult built the code, marketing plans, the deals, the channels, etc. They are THE ONLY reason this company is still around and yes, they DESERVE to be rewarded for the financial results that their work continues to deliver to this company.

I've given a good chunk of my LIFE to this company, earning ridiculous amounts of money for people who I don't even know, who don't care who I am or what I do. It's demoralizing and depressing. I'm ashamed to have ever worked for these people.

I'm tired of your whining. Why don't you just be a man and leave. If its that demoralizing then you should just get the hell out of here (and don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out), and make room for someone that wants to work for the most powerful and profitable software company on the planet.

Anonymous said...

"Is there a site that shows what all the execs have dumped so far?"

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/it?s=MSFT



Now I'm depressed. Well at least us bottom dwellers have grocery delivery from Safeway. Oh wait, what building do I have to go to pick them up?

I wonder how many of them know how much a gallon of milk currently costs or a loaf of bread?

Anonymous said...

OK, MS Poll results are out. Without divulging too much, I think it is safe to say that (no surprise) the "pay" question has the worst score by a large margin,and is down considerably from past years. I wonder which Partners are going to be asked to "spend more time with their families" as a result...

Anonymous said...

>> They are THE ONLY reason this company is still around
>> and yes, they DESERVE to be rewarded for the financial
>> results that their work continues to deliver to this
>> company.

So do we, after all, pay for performance, or do we pay for past performance? Because currently, all those partners are sucking out the last drops of blood this company has and making good people leave for Google or startups.

Jeez, I wish I could write a bit of code and expect to be paid a cool $1M a year five to ten years down the road.

Anonymous said...

>Now I'm depressed. Well at least us bottom dwellers have grocery delivery from Safeway.

Don't be depressed. They are trying to help you afford to buy cheap stock on the open market by getting the stock value down as much as possible. Remember, if they drive the stock down to, say $15 dollars a share, then you can buy it for that price too, and then there would be a whole new generation of whiz kid millionaires at Microsoft, maybe. The difference being that while the first set were young and naive, this generation is young and naive and they all look like BG. (ref oPhone video). Kinda scary.

Anonymous said...

>Reboot/software diversity
I'm not concerned about either of these issues--if we're the titanic headed for the iceberg, or even if we're already sinking, there's still money to be made. Besides, I work in MBD where our primary customers are other companies. There are no open-source competitors to the products I work on, so I'm not worried. Companies won't change the software that runs their day-to-day business overnight. (Yes, I figure I have 4-5 years left here, then I'll move to something I actually want to do.)

Anonymous said...

I do appreciate the commentary... as it acts as a 'fresh' release valve... but can you post salient thoughts in referance to reality beyond the touchy feely? Maybe spending a bit of your time on alaysis and insight focused on the financial history-present-future and resist the small group of "long" time investors. What would you say to the freshest 10000 employees who are salivating at the opportunity to make an impact in exchange for a (slighter than market average) market gain?

Anonymous said...

"They are THE ONLY reason this company is still around and yes, they DESERVE to be rewarded for the financial results that their work continues to deliver to this company."

Puhlease. The "ONLY" reason? Employees had nothing to do with that? OEMs? Distributors? Retailers? MSPs? ISVs? Consultants? Your point that some current Partners are the same ones who contributed greatly in the past is valid. However, they also got amply rewarded in the past. They don't get to feed at the trough for life based on past success or seniority. This isn't Japan. Partners today should be getting rewarded for incremental results today. We know they're getting the rewards. The open question is are they providing the results? It would be fascinating and instructive to take the Top 100 execs at MS vs other techs and compare overall compensation vs overall objective results financially and for shareholders. I have ZERO doubt that MS would be near the top on comp. How confident are you that they wouldn't be near the bottom on relative results?

Anonymous said...

"Is there a site that shows what all the execs have dumped so far?"

Human nature is a funny thing.

Looking closely at insider trading, I find a very positive signal. Reed Hastings, a director and member of the board, has made an outright purchase of 100,000 shares with $3M of his own money. That's a pretty big statement. Insiders sell for any number of reasons, you and I have no idea what the reason is. For many of the old-time softies, the single biggest reason is simple diversification. If I was their financial adviser I would be telling them to diversify by selling as well.

What you need to see here, the big message, is that an outside director on the board looks at what is happening, and likes it enough to plunk down $3M of his own money. Reed is a hugely successful guy, and no dummy when it comes to making money.

BTW, I find the MSN money site shows a better view of insider trading.

Anonymous said...

Why is Microsoft thinking of a merger? Because Microsoft wants Yahoo's users. The merger is less about technology but more about eyeballs.

NEO man said...

Wake up guys! A reboot happened last spring! That is why the stock is going up now.

How did you sleep through the reboot? Maybe you are just defrenced objects ... CLR garbage collector will find you ...

Oh and in case no one has noticed, Vista is doing great. Sure there are issues, but a lot of people only made the upgrade to Win2k a couple years ago and to XP when they bought a new machine. So Vista's adoption is going great. Wake up and smell the revenue.

Anonymous said...

>>Your point that some current Partners are the same ones who contributed greatly in the past is valid.

Some, but don't forget that it has already been proven in US courts of law and by EU and other rule makers that Microsoft us a monopolist, the main perpetrators being Ballmer and Gates with minions of cloned partners to push the scam.

Part of the problem for Microsoft now is that they can't get away with it as much though it still goes on. It is the basic process of copy, grab, market the hell out of it using any and all means available that might generate market share and wealth, but but suddenly competition and real innovation by outsiders is wreaking havoc on the old system of leveraged pressure.

neo man said...

"It is the basic process of copy, grab, market the hell out of it using any and all means available that might generate market share and wealth, but but suddenly competition and real innovation by outsiders is wreaking havoc on the old system of leveraged pressure."

Okay go google "Microsoft Research" and read a bit. Microsoft is probably in the top 10 in innovative companies in the world. There is more being spent on R&D than most companies make.

Just because Microsoft has entered markets and taken over doesn't mean it doesn't inovate. Take a look at "Open source" projects. Most of them are just copying existing products. The inovative ones are actually hard to find.

Anonymous said...

> What you need to see here, the
> big message, is that an outside
> director on the board looks at
> what is happening, and likes it
> enough to plunk down $3M of his
> own money.

Like this poster said, people may sell for a variety of reasons (college for kids, new diamond-crusted boat, pay off gambling debts, etc.) but like Peter Lynch once said they only BUY for *1* reason: they think the stock is going to go up in value. A very positive sign indeed.

Anonymous said...

Oh and in case no one has noticed, Vista is doing great. Sure there are issues, but a lot of people only made the upgrade to Win2k a couple years ago and to XP when they bought a new machine. So Vista's adoption is going great. Wake up and smell the revenue.

We've always been at war with Eastasia, and look forward to the chocolate ration being raised again. Oops, time for the Two Minute Google Hate, have to go...

Anonymous said...

The reboot needs to happen on two levels.

1 - We need a management reboot from the very top down which means getting seasoned executives on board who know something about actualy executing against a business strategy. Right now, we just don't have it.

2 - Employees need to accept that MS is not a get rich company any more. If you can't be happy just with your paycheck/bonus and some minimal income from the stock, you don't belong here (unless you are a L68 - ooops, the partner program should be gone if you do #1 right).

Anonymous said...

Okay go google "Microsoft Research" and read a bit. Microsoft is probably in the top 10 in innovative companies in the world. There is more being spent on R&D than most companies make.

Not like I'm knocking corporate funded research, but Bell Labs didn't seem to stop incompetent post-dereg AT&T/Lucent from going down the toilet. And their management was less mendacious than ours...

Anonymous said...

Nice burn from Steve Jobs and unfortunately, all too true:

A member of the audience questioned Jobs on Apple's relatively low figure of reinvestment in R&D, saying that he felt the company was missing low handing fruit with new product opportunities, particularly with the delay of Leopard. Jobs responded, “I wish it was just a matter of writing checks. If it was just a matter of spending money, Microsoft would deliver good products.”

What happened to MS? How did we go from the scrappy little company who took down big bad monopolistic IBM to the home of unsexy, bloated, and buggy products and mediocre whiners?

Too many weak hires during the boom years? Too much integration resulting in a "ball of mud" codebase? Too much focus on the consumer and not enough on the nerds? Too much career and empire building at every level? Where have we gone wrong?

Anonymous said...

For the Vista doubters...

2GB of RAM is now available for well under $100. Get some and enjoy.

Anonymous said...

2 - Employees need to accept that MS is not a get rich company any more. If you can't be happy just with your paycheck/bonus and some minimal income from the stock, you don't belong here

The review system is set up as a get rich company.

'be happy just with your paycheck/bonus ', does not fit with managing out a percentage of employees every year, enforced with the curve.

Anonymous said...

Used to read mini periodically from corp net as it validated my deviant thoughts around the bizaro work enviroment kept the sanity level in check. Once the wal mart spying ring was broken up and it was clear a nixonian enemies list was being managed by our fearless leader, I'm now too paranoid.
Now I can only peruse from home when I'm waiting 5 minutes for each and every OWA mail to load.

I tried selling when Lisa did - Smith Barney locked me out and their password reset process sent me in giant circle of love back to a point where it asked me for my password again.

Postponed selling because I was tagged to go to 2 days of enormously expensive offsite training where I'm learning how to effectively message.

I'm going to take all my learnings (and the ever important hand outs with the latest & freshest buzzwords) to really knock my yearly review out of the park. I think I can get more offsite training that way.

My mentoring is going really well. I council several newer, well thought of 'good' hires periodically. Usually they come in and shut the door and ask about their concerns about not understanding something significant because we appear to be repeatedly doing things that appear to them so unnatural and wasteful and predictably silly. I'm able to use clear & direct communication to tell them they need to never, ever in any way shape or form intimate to our execs what they just told me unless they can get out their GM, VP, SVP chessboard and present to me in who's interests exactly would reality be beneficial? Oh - and smile too.

Now I'm sad.

13 yr blue badge. Some day I'll think deep thoughts again. Really.

Anonymous said...

>Microsoft is probably in the top 10 in innovative companies in the world.

Well, I did what you suggested. I counted more than 250 projects on the list. Some links draw a blank, others just indicate an outline with blank lines below them, and the CVs on some of your researchers is astonishing. I don't want to demean your intentions as the list is impressive, or at least the intention to become an innovative company is impressive anyway. Kudos.

I remember back in the eighties when we used to hear about how IBM had so many new product developed from their research efforts that they just put them on the shelves to be pulled down for market when convenient. I now know that either it was pure BS or IBM was havving difficulty porting research products to market or at least to the consumer. I know that is BS too to some extent as they seem to be popping new technologies so advanced these days it is kind of exciting to think about what will come. My point is, while I am no IBM tracker, it seems that the
company took nearly forty years to learn how to focus research toward results that have that magic element, i.e., making contribution of an historic and meaningful importance to mankind.

Somehow, as an end user, I don't yet see that kind of maturity dominating Microsoft. Being subject to data mining technology designed to help businesses control my life is not a comforting or impressive achievement on Microsoft's or Google's part, nor is it a contribution to humanity, nor is it doing no evil.

Maybe MSR will become the kernel of that maturity, but my experience with Microsoft tells me the company cannot yet produce those kinds of products, even if it is sitting finished at the end of MSR's production line. You have to ask the question, do the ends justify the means in your creative processes or do the means justify the ends? If the answer is you don't know or it depends, then Microsoft is not yet ready and the kids of the 80's have only multiplied their mistakes to be passed on to the new generation of developers and researchers and for what result? Increase stock value?

Anonymous said...

What happened to MS? How did we go from the scrappy little company who took down big bad monopolistic IBM to the home of unsexy, bloated, and buggy products and mediocre whiners?

Easy, piss-poor management. Microsoft did not develop any significant number of people who could lead 100 to 600 person organizations. We have a few who know what they're doing, but most of the people in those positions are hopelessly out of their depth. They may have some good technology insights, and they may be very smart, but they simply cannot lead, and the company grew beyond the size where smarts and hard work could make up for a lack of competent managemnt.

The result is schedule chaos, execution nightmares, a gazillion conflicting visions, and 70,000 people all getting in each other's way. And the only answer most of the people in leadership positions have is "You go figure it out - we've empowered you to be your best."

But those are just words and they aren't true. 70,000 people, no matter how smart and motivated, cannot self-organize as a gigantic flash mob.

I don't know how we fix it either, because it's not like we just have a few poor managers we need to move on. Probably 80% of our third through fifth level managers are functionally incompetent for their jobs. At our current size, we probably need to find a thousand new high-quality senior managers. Only a handful are available internally, because we haven't developed our own people. Pulling that many in from outside will completly disrupt the culture. After you're done, what you'd have left might be called Microsoft, but it wouldn't be Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

As someone who's spent the last twenty years split between working for a large corporation and a small company, I can't help but marvel at this blog and its comments.

People, Microsoft is a large corporation. As large corporations go, Microsoft is in damn fine shape and has a market position that any company would envy. So, Vista has some problems. They're hardly insurmountable, and in truth they hardly matter: the reality is that people will end up with it whether they like it or not, and money rains on Redmond. All the griping here sounds like a fish complaining about being wet.

Large corporations have overhead. They don't react quickly. They have middle layers of employees writing reports that nobody reads and layers that do not contribute to the bottom line. They often design by committee with mediocre results, and put systems in place to benchmark and control employees. But every large corporation is like this. Seriously.

Microsoft employs many bright people. Take a handful of them, give them a good idea, and they could launch brilliant little startups on their own, with no barriers between ideas and customers. The downside is the loss of stability, the risk of failure. For many, that alone is reason enough to stay with Microsoft and the bureaucracy that comes with it.

By all means, try to improve Microsoft. All companies, large or small, must identify problems and work towards fixing them. But don't fool yourselves into believing that Microsoft will ever behave like a small company again: it's an unreasonable expectation, and one which will just leave you dissatisfied.

If you have talent and you like Microsoft, great! If you have talent and you're not happy where you're at, go somewhere else. And if you don't have talent, good luck hiding, because small companies have no use for you.

Redeemed said...


Microsoft is in damn fine shape and has a market position that any company would envy.

There is only one reason Microsoft is in fine financial shape. It has two monopolies and is benefitting from revenues far in excess of what would be possible in a competitive situation.

The concern I have is that all monopolies come to an end. It seems highly unlikely that Microsoft can create new monopolies to replace those that end. In this situation, Microsoft will have to live on competitive revenues rather than monopolistic revenues. This presents the following challenges.

The current cost structure is compeletely unsustainable on competitive revenues. If Microsoft is forced to live off competitive revenues (as the rest of the business world does), if the current cost structure is not rebooted, the resulting red ink would drive the stock to single digit prices.

It appears that the current product architecture and processes for most Microsoft products is so much more complex and costly to maintain compared to the industry, that if competitive revenues was all that Microsoft had, a complete reboot of these products and processes would be needed. Such a major reset needs to be done before the time of competitive revenues arises. Otherwise these once cash-cow products will implode in the marketplace under competitive revenue conditions.

Microsoft senior management has some difficult choices to make in the transition from monopolisitic revenues to competitive revenues. The earlier they make these hard decisions, the less blood there will be on the streets of Redmond when the transition happens.

Anonymous said...

If you have talent and you like Microsoft, great! If you have talent and you're not happy where you're at, go somewhere else. And if you don't have talent, good luck hiding, because small companies have no use for you.

This deserves a standing ovation.

Anonymous said...

Great tip of the hand on the MSPoll results coming down the pike. I have been waiting for these for some time now as a validation of what I have been thinking/feeling and reading.

Am I the only one feeling this way?
Are there 12 people on mini posting all the time?
Is this a greater movement?
Will those who are upset have the balls to participate in the Anonymous but not so anonymous MSPoll?

I just can't wait, I hope that something is done to address the real issues, insidems is a complete joke and if Lisa thinks she could pull the slight of hand for a while well good for you, but you didn't solve anything. You might have calmed the storm for some time now, but it will be coming back when (and if) this review slams people once agian.

Here is the real deal I see. Everyone says go somewhere else, leave if you don't like it. Call out people for being weak, etc. You know what's really happening? People talk about how they don't like it, continue managing perceptions and playing the msft game. All the while keeping their families living off of the pretty decent salary and great benefits. But that just doesn't work. That isn't the kind of people I know and that isn't the kind of people MS hired or wants.

MSFT wanted the winners and hired a lot of them years ago with the promise that the stock always gains 30% a year, you can do what you want and you can get rich here if you work hard. Well now going on 8 years and I should be seeing what was promised had the stock been even performing moderately, and I'm realizing it ain't gonna happen (I realized this long ago though)

What's happening now is these people are playing the game on the surface, working 9-5 (yes Dolly) and then they are going home and working nights and weekends on their startups. The ones that can ultimately bring them the money that MSFT promised but didn't deliver. I know it, I can feel it, and I'm doing it. There are so many wandering talks about people's interests.

Well that might be the price. Hire these driven people and promise them a chance at the money if they perform and then not provide it? Even worse, let this whole partner thing come out refuse to address it or talk to them about it or even open up a path for greater rewards? You know they are getting what they are fostering. When you hire the type of people that have the skills to really succeed either inside our outside MS and then you don't offer them the $$$ to do it within, well you're getting what your encouraging. yep their peons.... screw them, they don't deserve the partner cash. watch what happens in the next year if this continues to the people you thought were smart but just never seemed to work hard at work....

and I might as well throw out a suggestion. Lisa get the cash out there, that's all we're caring about. The stock that used to go up 20-30% a year and was "sold" to us by HR as part of our compensation package ain't doin it anymore. Something else needs to kick in to make people want to feel loyal to the company and feel like they aren't being stupid for giving more hours than are required. Another big change could the the "walk the walk" lesson to our partners, most specifically our execs.

Anonymous said...

I think we will probably be able to look back and point to Vista/Office2k7 as the beginning of the end.

Both of these products offer much more style than substance. Knee-jerk answer for what's new in Vista? "It looks pretty." Office? "The UI."

There are major, significant reasons not to use either. Vista needs more memory, runs slower, and has compatibility issues with devices/programs/CDs/etc. Office requires retraining in the corporate environment and the new file format makes it difficult to use alongside older versions.

This kind of stagnation leaves us vulnerable to a Firefox-like situation for our cash cows. People assume there won't be a mass exodus to Linux because of various compatibility and usability issues, but the same could have been said for Firefox a few years ago. All that's required is a frustration with Microsoft (check) and a tipping point of mindshare and people will be willing to make sacrifices to use a product that simply feels like it's better engineered.

Anonymous said...

2GB of RAM is now available for well under $100. Get some and enjoy.

If I pay any amount of money for computer hardware, I expect it to give me some kind of benefit, not simply maintain the status quo.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is probably in the top 10 in innovative companies in the world. There is more being spent on R&D than most companies make.

Hah! That's laughable. Just because MS spends a ton of money on R&D does not mean it innovates. Though I agree that MS engineers/PMs etc take existing technology already out there and "innovate" on top of that, but I cannot remember the last time MS had some truly unique ideas/technology that stood out and were applauded by everyone as real innovation. Would you mind naming a few?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is becoming too much like IBM.

So how do we stop this from happening?

I say get rid of MSN and xBox or at least spin off the two groups.

Anonymous said...

In other (vaguely depressing) news, "Crossover" lets you run Windows applications on Mac OS X without any Windows install (no "Boot Camp," no "Parallels," no nothing).

This guy had almost no problems running IE 6 for Windows on his Mac, without any Windows environment, with a minimal hit to system resources.

(It goes without saying that there's no security/malware/spambot risk, since there's no registry, no ActiveX that can tell OS X what to do, etc.)

In other words, Mac OS X plus a shareware runtime container can do everything Vista can't.

Let's hear again about what amazing geniuses MSFT's management are, and why they deserve their continuing profits.

Anonymous said...

Office 2007:
It's amazing that people think a new UI is a sign of desperation or simple window-dressing. Go use Office 2007 for two weeks. Now switch back to Office 2003 (or any previous version). You won't do it because you are hooked.

Office 2007 is a compelling release - best in at least the last 10 years. Just watch the revenue roll in. Oh, we're also pretty tight on the expense side too - so watch the profits roll in as well.

Anonymous said...

The result is schedule chaos, execution nightmares, a gazillion conflicting visions, and 70,000 people all getting in each other's way. And the only answer most of the people in leadership positions have is "You go figure it out - we've empowered you to be your best."

That's because their retirements are paid for 20 times over. They know we've hit ice. They are standing in their lifeboat, barely tethered to the ship, exhorting us, the band, to play on. Its abysmally pathetic.

neo man said...

"MSFT wanted the winners and hired a lot of them years ago with the promise that the stock always gains 30% a year, you can do what you want and you can get rich here if you work hard."

In fact, Microsoft never promised employees that. People promised themselves that. Microsoft has even moved it compensation to account for the years of flat stock prices.

However, in case you didn't notice, the stock is up more than 30% from a year ago. < $23 to almost $31!

I've been buying LEAPs and rolling them up as the price moves up. (ITM to ATM, for more options) If you don't understand you can use google to learn. Anyway, I'm starting to feel the love! By $40 it will be meaningful. If MSFT hits a $100 within 3 years I might make 7 figures.

In the past there were plenty of people that didn't get rich off of MSFT stock. You had to hold and then sell before 2000. Many got rich, many didn't. The point is that it is up to you. Microsoft offers plenty of oppertunities. You just have to take them.

Anonymous said...

Do we need a big management reboot - YES!

So completely fed up with my current organization, I just took a new role (still at MSFT) where the team seems more committed, better management who actually encourage people to think outside the box and mean it. So maybe this will or won't pan out to hold up to the impressions, but thinking it may keeps me getting out of bed each morning to go to work for now.

On the management front, for all the training investment MS is making in managers (MEC as an example) - we've really missed the boat on a few things. First we have lots and lots of people who shouldn't be managers and all the training in the world isn't going to fix that. They don't have the core skills, don't want to be a manager, their teams can't stand working for them, they negatively impact what their teams should deliver but the feel they can't advance if they don't become a manager. True - there are few to none L68+ IC roles and yes, that means your career is "limited" if you want to be an IC but that isn't by definition different if you're a manager either. The entry to the L68 roles is increasingly and rightly more difficult. As we attempt to flatten out the mgt ranks that is required. But as we do so often, the focus is on making entry difficult to cut down the numbers and the quality, what we want to accomplish and how these people should lead by example is missing. So that needs to be fixed but my fear is that to fix that we'd have to clear out the vast majority of the L68+ folks. Rumor has it a quiet sweep is underway but who knows if it's really being done with the company's interest at heart or if this is yet another medal round in the political games.

Then that takes us to the next famous peer group the L65-67 crowd. Huge range of ability, focus and skills here. These are the managers that really have to drive things ahead and the ones who take the falls for the L68+ crowd when things go sideways. LisaB has admitted that this crowd has largely been ignored by HR. An easily replaceable crowd by industry hires that we churn through like butter, the jobs are positioned to sound fantastic and when these people arrive they land in a reality that more closely resembles a horror show. MEC doesn't address this crowd really, HR is ingoring them, L68+ crowd is scared to death that some of them will break through and upset the Partner apple cart so they make this peer groups' life hell and churn them out the door. This is a shame because that is our bench of next leaders - or at least it should be. Plus for the L64 and under crowd it's not very motivating to see what you have to deal with in the L65-67 ranks so they'll start leaving more often as well.

So I'm off to my new role. Hell bent to beat the bogies I have in this job. Determined to be the best manager these people have ever had and convinced I can have some fun doing this. I may not be able to change a company as big as MS, but I can certainly impact what happens in my immediate team to a large degree and I have a responsibility to at a minimum do that. If we can get more of the L65-67 crowd to do the same we stand a chance. Anyone with me?

Anonymous said...

Google to Focus on Software: CEO

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California (Reuters)—Google Inc.'s corporate tagline has become "Search, Ads and Apps," reflecting a shift beyond search and advertising into online software applications, its chief executive said on Thursday.


No coincidence that VicG's non-compete ends this month. Vic was Microsoft's GM in charge of Developer Evangelism. He defected from Microsoft to Google a year ago.

Anonymous said...

However, in case you didn't notice, the stock is up more than 30% from a year ago. < $23 to almost $31!

And in case you didn't notice, the stock was only at $23 a year ago because Ballmer had just opened his mouth about diverting long-awaited profits from the release of Vista to fund even more never-gonna-make-a-profit ventures. It had been up over $27.50 not long before that. And it could dip below that if he does it again, wiping out any gain.

I've been buying LEAPs and rolling them up as the price moves up. (ITM to ATM, for more options) If you don't understand you can use google to learn. Anyway, I'm starting to feel the love! By $40 it will be meaningful. If MSFT hits a $100 within 3 years I might make 7 figures.

Why stop there? Why not speculate about how much you'd make if the stock hits $1000 in three years? That's only marginally less likely, especially since the partners will sabotage any traction the stock gets by dumping their shares in absurd allotments and thus quenching the market demand.

$40? Possible. $100 in three years? Never going to happen.

MSFTextrememakeover said...

"However, in case you didn't notice, the stock is up more than 30% from a year ago. < $23 to almost $31!"

Yes, a nice recovery. But to be fair, it comes after nearly setting a new decade low on the back of Ballmer's spending surprise (one of the few large-cap tech stocks to revisit their '00 lows), and has been achieved in part via the tender and massive additional buybacks. I think you're correct that MSFT never promised employees 30%/annual gains and that the grants have been an attempt to mitigate the impact of a stagnant stock. However, you appear to be absolving leadership for that abysmal track record of stock performance since '00. Why? If it was a tech-wide thing I would understand. But the data shows that it clearly isn't, and that many if not most of MSFT's peers have radically outperformed it. Why should realistic employees (i.e. the ones who counted on say, market growth not 30% p.a.) - or external shareholders - be satisfied with that performance - especially when they see a management team that has paid themselves huge bonuses over this period and led the industry in insider selling?

"If MSFT hits a $100 within 3 years I might make 7 figures."

According to Valueline stats, MSFT's average annual PE ratio has declined in every year of Ballmer's reign as CEO so far. So if you're figuring on $100 three years out, you're either expecting that to turn around dramatically and/or earnings to triple from current. Which is it?

Anonymous said...

In fact, Microsoft never promised employees that. People promised themselves that.

Recruiters used to send out spreadsheets showing the expected gains from the stock that were supposed to offset lower base salaries.

You can argue that people should not have been that gullible. But that implies that we have hired tons of not-so-smart people in the past 5-10 years, the implication of which is worse than concluding that perhaps people had reasonable expectations of making money from the stock.

Anonymous said...

>>So completely fed up with my current organization, I just took a new role (still at MSFT)
>>Anyone with me?

AMEN!

Anonymous said...

>> No coincidence that VicG's non-compete ends

This cracks me up. A non-compete ends for a bullshit artist and Google changes their strategy to match.

Have you tried a career of a standup comic?

Anonymous said...

WHO IS THIS RETARD Bill Hilf?! Someone needs to shut him up FAST! He is making Microsoft look like a bunch of idiots.

http://www.osnews.com/story.php/17897/Microsoft-Director-Out-to-Debunk-Mythology-Around-Open-Source

neo man said...

What is about the word "if" that people can't understand?

Anyway, I've got the guts to take a position and go for it. What about you? The choice is yours. Whine about things or go out and make a difference.

Anonymous said...

re: But that implies that we have hired tons of not-so-smart people in the past 5-10 years

Oh gosh, we've hired plenty of folk who have had good intentions but [here in product management] I can safely say we have not hired anywhere near the best. I joined five years ago, taking a 32% salary cut thinking the MS-on-the-resume-thingy would be great. You know what? An MS tour of duty is not relevant [wrt product management jobs]. I just received an offer. A 37% salary increase above my current MS pay. So, really a 5% increase since 2002. I feel ill. I'm leaving MS next month. I cannot justify the long hours, review insanity and Exec disregard for the lvl 62-64s.

Anonymous said...

MEC doesn't address this crowd really...

MEC is making the same mistake Microsoft as a whole makes about organizational problems - it tries to fix things from the bottom up. But you can't fix organizational problems from the bottom up because organizational problems are caused by the folks at the top. The only ones who can fix them are the senior leaders, but they've delegated the problem to the ICs. All the ICs can do is work around the issues at huge cost.

As best I can figure it, MECs strategy is to train the college hires to be great managers, and in twenty years when all the current dysfunctional leaders have retired, we'll have world-class management from the Harvard/MIT/CM Classes of '05 who were patiently waiting all those years.

Anonymous said...

I think you're correct that MSFT never promised employees 30%/annual gains and that the grants have been an attempt to mitigate the impact of a stagnant stock.

Regardless of what anyone was or wasn't promised, the problem Microsoft has is that without the lucrative stock options of the 90's to bolster mediocre salaries, Microsoft is not competitive in the marketplace for top talent. 67% percentile means the average Microsoft developer is paid better than 2 out of 3 of his peers.

Which leaves 1 out of 3 paid better. That means Microsoft isn't going to have the absolute best anymore. Back in the early 90's when I started, the stock made up for it, so we did get the best. But today, there isn't anything to make up for it, so the best go to the places that pay them like they're the best and Microsoft get's the pick of the also-rans. Hurrah, we're the best of the second tier!

The company has never had very good management, but it had a combination of experienced senior devs and top notch junior ICs who made it all work anyway. Now, the experienced senior devs are being Kimmed out the door and the junior ICs are no longer top notch. Management is as bad as ever.

Things are going to go south in a hurry, and I don't know how to stop it.

Anonymous said...

Recruiters used to send out spreadsheets showing the expected gains from the stock that were supposed to offset lower base salaries.

I was hired in the 90's and I didn't get a spreadsheet, but my recruiter did tell me not to look at my base salary but rather to look at the "overall compensation package" with the implication being that stock options would shore up my lower-than-industry salary.

Interesting thing - I've made some pocket change off my options over the years, and my base salary hasn't changed much either. Yeah. Why the hell AM I sticking around? Time to call a headhunter.

Oh, and for you InsideMS watchers. Daly's finally found it. I can't wait for the "I'm strong like the HULK!" posts.

Anonymous said...

This cracks me up. A non-compete ends for a bullshit artist and Google changes their strategy to match.

What is evangelism if not bullshit? Or didn't you see Allchin try to pull the wool over the DOJ's eyes with his gerryrigged demo during the antitrust trial. If he's going to do it in a public court, for all the world to see, then you know it is/was standard operating practice for Microsoft all along. Perception is reality. Right now Google owns the world's perception. No better time to inject an Oz-like character

Anonymous said...

>> No better time to inject an Oz-like character

Dude, you've missed the humor completely. I'm just saying that there's no correlation between Gundotra and Google strategy (or lack thereof).

Anonymous said...

After reading a story on The Fall of the Roman Empire, it all came from poor leadership decisions, outsourced military, and apathy of Roman citizens. Does any of this sound familiar? History does repeat for those who don't learn from the past.