Sunday, June 24, 2007

Guy Kawasaki for Microsoft's Next CEO

So my first reaction at Terry Semel be booted from Yahoo! after shareholders complained about lackluster results was, "What, you mean you just have to demand accountability?!?!" What a concept! Hopefully any of our Microsoft shareholders who have done even the most shallow technical analysis of MSFT will start clearing their throats and find their voice, too.

But it seems for now most analysts are in the "eh," stage of looking at what Yahoo! decided to do post-Semel, though re-orgs seem to be popping up here and there. I was hoping for something bolder that would cause YHOO to shoot up, just to serve as an example of good decision making. Part of this criticism was choosing Yang to step into the CEO role.

It made me wonder about who would be my choice for our next CEO, when that day comes. Maybe that day will be soon, maybe that day will be far, far from now. Will it be someone from the inside, accustom to our culture and well-connected through-out the company? Or an outsider? Someone with a clear, focused vision not blurred by years of integrated, innovative Kool-Aid splurting out the sun-shine product pipeline? Who do you think it should be?

Who do I think?

Guy Kawasaki. Someone suggested this recently and it stuck in my little head. Crazy to the Mac-head world, I know, but what would Guy Kawasaki do? Like Brian Boitano, I imagine he would kick an ass or two. Built in BS meter, a committed focus on passionate users, a deep desire to break out of any hegemony, and ready rules for firing people. Someone like Guy would serve as a nice sledgehammer and bring a fresh air of start-up fever to Microsoft.

I've very tempted to ask Mr. Kawasaki to be my friend on Facebook - wait... maybe... maybe if a bunch of Microsofties launched a be-my-friend surge on Facebook, we could start a Be My Guy! campaign to warm Mr. Kawasaki over to the idea. You know. Should opportunity come a knockin'.

Speaking of Facebook: I'm still loving it. Come on, be Mini's friend. I'd also invite you to be my enemy, if they had that feature, for you folks - like the orange-scarfed-dementor-brigade - who aren't that cool on me. Actually, an enemies list feature isn't all that bad of an idea. Hold your friends close but your enemies closer, eh? I didn't really (holding my hands up and making air-quotes) get social networking sites until the latest Facebook iteration. The applications layer is brilliant and provides rich interaction between my content and what my friends are doing. My Facebook page is practically my new desktop. I futz with it endlessly. There's so much potential, like if they go and add private groups then - bang - suddenly they have a collaboration space. Roaming synchronization of Facebook application content for off-line access?

Woof! I haven't been this excited since I learned C.

So who knew? Crazy Uncle Mark Canter was right about opening it all up.

Speaking of opening up: while enjoying some nice Redmond Saturday Market food on a recent Saturday, I overhead a lunch conversation with someone from a company's HR department: what's the first thing they do with a promising potential hire nowadays: zip over to Facebook or MySpace looking for them, and quickly drop the applicant if there's anything fishy or disturbing associated with them. You'd better be careful how you end up being tagged (and have real fun tagging your enemies with crazy photos) and ensure what ever you're building in Facebook puts your best forward. If you care.

I'm sure Caustic Phil wouldn't care, and he'd explain in deeply profane and eloquent prose just how much he didn't care about Facebook and if he had a Facebook account. Never read causticTech? Oh, you're in for a treat, because Caustic Phil has a new one up: the interview zoo - a must read for anyone doing technical interviews, covering both sides of the process.

And speaking of interviews, Packet Storm has a link to a must-read story off of Worse Than Failure: Does this remind you of Microsoft - actually, it makes me appreciate that our bureaucracy isn't that bad and that there is actually a fate worse than being stuck in your current sucky job. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't change what we have. People need to be able to find their new spot in Microsoft easier than just deciding to interview outside, as this comment illustrates:

Permission to interview always caused me anxiety, even after the 10+ years I've been at Microsoft. Even considering that I've moved groups several times.

I've been at my new group less than a year and don't like it (micromanagement and bureaucracy are the main issues). Rather than wait the full year to ask permission to interview, I am leaving the company. I now realize that it was easier to ignore all the nonsense when the stock was moving up.

I was nervous, but in the interviews outside the company I blew them away. Microsoft alumni are well respected and valued outside the company, I can tell you that for sure! I was surprised that some companies have better benefits, too.

MSFTExtremeMakeover posted Who us - leadership Nah, we just vest here as a review of the various odd leadership-less decisions Microsoft has made. I'm telling you, Guy would kick some ass here. We at least wouldn't have to deal with Fake Steve Jobs calling us a pussy when we blinked at Google's pulling on our consent-decree nipple ring. And guess what? Looks like Google is ready for another yank or two.

Speaking of vesting: so we know about the urban legend of Microsofties with buttons decorated with FYIFV. I guess nowadays, looking at all the expiring options that die underwater, it'd be more appropriate to have a FMIFV button. Anyway, I was thinking of this for two reasons: (1) Ben Smith popped up here briefly and posted a comment about the Mini-Microsoft site here that was also cross-posted on some internal mailing list. (2) A comment made the observation that when things were good for employees (financially) that they were fearless and not so review and reward focus. It didn't matter. It was a completely different culture than today.

Ben's comment covers a good amount of ground looking at things here over time, including the negative implications of transparency. The culture part is near the end:

...one aspect of Mini that I find very troubling is what I see as a culture of victimization and disempowerment. At Microsoft, this is the beginning of a vicious feedback cycle because we have a culture and comp system that favors creative, ambitious, results driven technical and management leaders. Frankly put, people who are self-disempowering aren’t going to get a lot of helping hands (maybe to a fault). Microsoft is a company of opportunities if you don’t take them, someone else will. As a lawyer here once told me, Microsoft’s internal slogan would aptly be “Who’s eating your lunch today?” To be clear, this does not mean we each need to be sharks looking for the bloody water; rather to excel at Microsoft each of us must find our own way to contribute to the great products and services we build.

MSS provides this insight:

Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a manager here (not at Microsoft). He said, essentially, that if you have large compensation changes between levels, it causes politics.

There's two ways this works. First, it makes people badly want to be promoted, and therefore more willing to engage in behavior that is destructive to the organization if it helps them individually. Second, it gives the managers great power - they get to choose the lucky ones. From both sides, this drives toward political behavior.

Now, in the past at Microsoft, this was mitigated by everybody having options and the stock climbing through the roof. This meant that employees didn't have to have the promotion, because the stock was going to take care of them. They were better off just helping the company as a whole do well. But when the stock went flat, it also quit being a counterbalance to the steep compensation curve, and political behavior ran wild.

If this is the correct root cause of the politics, the only way to fix the situation - and save Microsoft from what it is becoming - is to flatten the compensation curve.

I certainly don't see myself as the patron saint of the disempowered victim. I understand some steam gets let loose here, much like when InsideMS went through a meltdown. But there's plenty of productive conversation, too, and I don't understand if you can fix a problem without calling out there's a problem first. I do now recognize, however, that change - like corporate culture change - is irrelevant unless you can identify where your culture is, what problems it has, what change you intend to make, and why that change will be beneficial.

As a small example: it would be good to drive away anything justifying fear within the company. Fear of changing jobs because of your H1B status. Fear of providing frank feedback about your management hierarchy. Fear of sharing constructive criticism regarding why you're leaving Microsoft for another job. Fear leads to silence. And silence leads to fortifying the status quo, stagnation, and competitive disadvantage.

Fear is not a Microsoftie trait. Nor a trait of any corporation that aims to be a success. If we accept there are people being silent due to fear then we can reassure that it's not justified, that their insight and feedback is important and that their input be used to make the company better. And successes here would lead to trust.

Oh, and memo to Microsoft PR: stop worrying about me and pay a little closer attention to any pieces you approve for BusinessWeek, perhaps thinking it's quite the coup. Holy crap. Look at that comment stream. Did we just pants ourselves?

That takes talent.

Really, really bad talent.


166 comments:

Anonymous said...

Woo hoo, first to comment! It's been fun reading your blog for the past couple of years. After 5 years, I'm leaving MSFT for a startup. Like one of the other commenters, I can't get out of my group for a while, so it was just easier to look outside of the company. Ta!

Anonymous said...

I like working for MSFT, but the BusinessWeek article, coupled with the erratic behavior of our CEO, illustrates why it sometimes doesn't feel like a job for grown-ups.

Anonymous said...

"I certainly don't see myself as the patron saint of the disempowered victim. ... But there's plenty of productive conversation, too,..."

Hmm, is there some other Mini-Microsoft blog I wasn't invited to? Over the last year or so, it's been "waah, VPs/partners/whatever earn too much", "waah, I have a God-given right to more money", "waah, PMs/devs/testers aren't as important as me", "waah, Limited II hurts my feelings", "waah, MS doesn't throw money at my brilliant ideas", "waah, dem furriners, dey tuk ar jabs", etc. (And Who 'da is happily letting the posts through. This place should really have been named "St. Punk's Home For The Terminally Disempowered".)

Ben Smith has the right of it: nice^H^H^H^Hpassive guys finish last. Opportunities are found by people willing to get off their duff and work hard to sniff them out[1]. If you aren't able or willing to do so, don't whimper about what you deserve to have because you've already got it.

[1] This is totally orthogonal to working hard at your job. The former gets you where you want to go, the latter helps you succeed where you are.

Anonymous said...

Facebook has private groups...

Anonymous said...

Guy Kawasaki? Mini, please say that you're joking. What has he done since leaving Apple that would convince you that he's capable of running Microsoft?

Let's look at his post-Apple (original Apple) career.

ACI US: Apple spin-off #1. Start-up as a database for Macs; Kawasaki left after two years. What impact did this company have on anything?

Fog City Software: Apple spin-off #2. Start-up; created one email application (Claris Emailer) for Macs. Killed by Apple in the late 90s. Microsoft picked up several of their team members to build Entourage (not Guy himself, but another Fog City founder and several others). You can read a history written by an Entourage MVP here:
http://blog.entourage.mvps.org/2007/05/in_the_beginning.html

Back to Apple: Not that he'd ever strayed far from the apple tree, but he went back as an Apple Fellow for a couple of years.

Consulting / venture capital: What companies has he discovered?

Truemors: The only word that I can use to describe this little venture is "lame". Even Valleywag is more useful.

As far as I can tell, Guy Kawasaki is a self-aggrandising guy who is enamored of his own voice. All of his books seem to be about telling us how smart he is, but I haven't seen proof of it yet. He's got passion, but I don't think that he's capable of directing it at anything other than feeding his own ego.

Who da'Punk said...

Guy Kawasaki? Mini, please say that you're joking.

Half. More on the side of seriously shaking things up.

Who do you think would make a good match for Microsoft and the direction it needs to go in, post-Ballmer?

Charles said...

Guy Kawasaki for Microsoft's Next CEO

The problems facing Microsoft are not (typically) correctable by any one management approach. As good as Kawasaki is at venture funding (the art of guessing where not to invest), he likely is not qualified to lead Microsoft. Microsoft is a highly unique problem.

Startup managers, growth managers, sustaining managers, turn-around managers - all have different mindsets and personalities - that's what makes them good at what they do. Further, the good ones have been doing it most of their careers, and consequently it is exceedingly rare for any one individual to be good at any two of those scenarios. Turnaround managers typically are terrible startup managers and poor growth managers. Startup managers sometimes can be good growth managers but rarely are sustaining and never turnaround managers, for example.

Microsoft needs both a turnaround manager and a growth manager, but the company's size and problems may preclude any meaningful growth for several years, consequently getting to a state where a growth manager could function will be difficult, i.e, Microsoft will be fortunate to avoid a long painful slide and just tread water, assuming a turnaround from its current slow-poison approach.

A more realistic expectation would be a turnaround management team to pave the way for longer-term transformation management to moderate growth. This requires at least two different phases of executive management turnover; the first being to remove underperforming personnel and products and instill strategic vision and tactical execution; the second being product/services innovation, market penetration, and sustained profit growth. There will be areas that need overlap, e.g. product rearchitecting can't wait or it will never be ready for growth.

Both phases require competancies in managing very large global organizations, software product marketing, development & delivery, retail and B2B sales, and fiscal prudence. The most important skill (and this can not be over emphasized) is recognizing, recruiting and managing key personnel. No single executive can drive these kinds of changes by themselves. They will need to identify and install (replace, promote or retain) competant senior managers who in turn also need to be similarly skilled at building leadership.

Much seems expected of Ray Ozzie, but for the above reasons those expectations ought to be tempered, and sights instead set on a farther, broader horizon.

Who da'Punk said...

"waah, Limited II hurts my feelings", "waah, MS doesn't throw money at my brilliant ideas", "waah, dem furriners, dey tuk ar jabs"

New rule: "waah" is now in the same moderation dog-house as "M$".

So I disagree with the broad statement. And Microsoft has fumbled dealing with disenchanted employees. You know, even this comment's response would be a better response than the middling myMicrosoft bread and circuses. Right now, though, leadership is trying to have it both ways, with a top view of everyone is great and has abundant opportunity, and then a lower reality of dog-fight to the top.

If it's a dog-fight, call it a dog-fight and say, hey, that's our culture. It's common corporate culture. Live with it or go elsewhere.

Who da'Punk said...

Facebook has private groups...

Yeah, Daniel Tang wrote that on my wall, too. Okay, I'll have to try them. It will be killer if they allow you to have applications specific to that private group...

Anonymous said...

Who do you think would make a good match for Microsoft and the direction it needs to go in, post-Ballmer?

We should get Carlos Ghosn:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Ghosn

He turned around Nissan in a big way. I think it's a fallacy that you need a CEO that grew up in tech to run a tech company. You need someone with great managerial and business instincts. Besides, we've already got the Great Wizard of Oz for the fancy technical mumbo-jumbo......

Collision Domain said...

Mini, thanks for the link. Here are my short-list candidates for the next CEO of Microsoft: http://255255255255.blogspot.com/2007/02/what-if.html - PS

Anonymous said...

Mini

How about one of Microsoft's 3 presidents?Raikes,Bach or Johnson?

Anonymous said...

Carlos Ghosn...that's an interesting idea. Someone from an industry where you can't just jam stuff down the customers throats.

However, it will end up being someone like Guy Kawasaki, bloviator supreme . It seems like the Microsoft credo is to live off past (and mostly illusory) achievements, and Guy is that personified.

Anonymous said...

Instead of picking one of the three presidents, how about 3 Microsofts? Splitting up to form 3 new companies, Windows, BizApps (clients and servers), Entertainment seems painfully obvious, and has been for years. This seems like the only path to getting MS moving again.

Anonymous said...

"If it's a dog-fight, call it a dog-fight and say, hey, that's our culture. It's common corporate culture. Live with it or go elsewhere."

All well and good, but that won't work at a company the size of Microsoft. Back in the go-go 90s I worked at a place that went massive, from $0 to $1B in about five years. And in a massively cut-throat market competing with huge tech names. No monopoly money-printing machine like Microsoft.

That company was a kennel of mad-dogs. But then, when it peaked out around 1,000 folks, it was still small enough that the CEO could know more than half the joint on a first name basis. If you made a splash, very important people knew it.

Now, at Microsoft, if you're buried down in some smallish org within an org within an org, and you do something special, does Gates know? Does Ballmer? Hah!

Your group VP doesn't even know, because it's all been filtered out by the ten levels between you and them.

So being a nasty dog only impresses the guy one or maybe two steps up from you, while it causes vast ill-will amongst your colleagues. The reward ratio just isn't there.

And really, you can cram about five hundred mad dogs in a room and maybe make a go of it, but no more than that. The company I spoke of (about 50% mad dogs) was well on its way to breaking apart at the seams before it was bought (and subsequently ruined).

A culture of 70,000 mad dogs? You gotta be kidding. That's Hamas, not a corporation.

We've had this discussion over and over. You need Kims, and the bigger you are, the more you need them. But in any event, I don't think Microsoft needs an injection of "aggression" per se, it needs some very smart and decent management. Hard-nosed, yes. Aggressive, no. Save that for sales guys, not the CEO.

The management at Microsoft is neither smart nor decent. And it is also far too detached from reality by its wealth.

My #1 resume item for the next CEO: someone who's net worth is under $10 million.

Anonymous said...

Mini and some dood say:
"waah, Limited II hurts my feelings", "waah, MS doesn't throw money at my brilliant ideas", "waah, dem furriners, dey tuk ar jabs"

You know, even this comment's response would be a better response than the middling myMicrosoft bread and circuses. Right now, though, leadership is trying to have it both ways, with a top view of everyone is great and has abundant opportunity, and then a lower reality of dog-fight to the top.

I agree that a direction should be chosen and run with. But this dood would have the whole company be populated with back-stabbing ladder climbers who just flock to whatever hotness of the moment will inflate their already overheated "personal stock". In short, a lot of "say-ers" and not a lot of "do-ers"

...oh wait. Think maybe there is a few too many of those already? At *all* levels?

Remember, Frank Lloyd Wright could have drawn all the pretty pictures he liked...but some guy had to get down in the mud and put in the plumbing. Yeah he was showing some buttcrack...but I bet Frank was damned glad to get that crack so he didnt have to get dirty.

And I see an awful lot of architects and blue prints running around. Not so many plumbers. Probably because the folks who dig in and shovel are getting tired of being treated as if they didnt matter.

As for the Dog-fight - dogs are pretty damned dependent on humans. Wolves, not so much. THey have evolved a well functioning team in which everyone does the work and benefits. Dog fights are fun to watch, but they dont accomplish much.

Anonymous said...

My short-list candidates for CEO.

Jawad Khaky
First religious ceo. Will cut salaries of all partners and increase his own.


Christa Davis or Debra Chrapaty
First qualified woman ceo

J Allard
First visionary leader

Anonymous said...

something to sooth those nipples after some good google yankin':

http://no2google.wordpress.com/2007/06/24/life-at-google-the-microsoftie-perspective/

Anonymous said...

Two words, Steve Jobs.

Anonymous said...

The quest for our next CEO. I've found him!


Go to https://www.microsoft.com/servers/faces/default.aspx
Go to Video Library and Select Watch Video
Go to the Flexibility Tab
Find Scott Dickens
Watch Video

Yep I've found it our next CEO.

Now why do I get the feeling that we've just pants ourselves yet again???

Anonymous said...

Next CEO? I don't know, but I'd like to know who's next in line for Sinofsky's job..

Anonymous said...

"Now, at Microsoft, if you're buried down in some smallish org within an org within an org, and you do something special, does Gates know? Does Ballmer? Hah!

Your group VP doesn't even know, because it's all been filtered out by the ten levels between you and them."


I fail to understand why this is important. My PUM/GM has more influence on my review/compensation/life/happiness than the VP or his manager.

Besides, it's not that difficult to "fix" this, either: meet with your manager two times a month, his manager every month, his manager every 2 months, his manager every 4 months, etc. Don't forget to send all of them an easy-to-read summary [one screen email] of your accomplishments (with concrete examples/names) right before the calibration meetings.

If you feel awkward doing this, just remember that the last word of "blatant self-promotion" is "promotion".

Anonymous said...

"waah, I have a God-given right to more money", "waah, PMs/devs/testers ...."

Simmer down and see a therapist.

Anonymous said...

"A more realistic expectation would be a turnaround management team"

Spot on, the problems we have today are not going to be solved by any one individual and replacing just the CEO or expecting a guy with the "vision thing" like Ray Ozzie aren't to miraculously fix everything because the problems we have today are not just problems of leadership and vision. We will require large scale changes in management and organization.
The fundamental problem we have though, is focus on the individual as opposed to teams; It manifests itself in various ways as 'rank and yank', clientelist politics, empire building and associated turf wars, cult of personality and the focus on heroics.
The damage from politics is evident from this blog however the damage from heroics at the operational level is the biggest problem as it masks the underlying flaws in process and organization. Yes, we have changes in processes in every release but this is useless without properly functioning teams and groups.
Unfortunately, the damage done to the company over the years will take years to fix because of the amount of distrust that exists here now.

Anonymous said...

Keep Dreamin'

If you don't like MSFT the way it is, your best hope is to go elsewhere. The energy you put into whining, hoping and dreaming that it'll turn into something else would be better spent in polishing your resume.

MSFT's biggest advantage and disadvantage is that it has too much freakin' money in the bank. Less now than before, to be sure, but as long as it's sitting on $20-something BILLION (that's "20 gigadollars to the tech-heads), there's exactly zero (that's "0" to the tech-heads or "null" in that it points nowhere) motivation to buck anything.

Factor in that the people who stand to lose the most prestige in a re-org (or de-org) are those with the most power (i.e. the infamous "partners" and BOD) and the chances go from none to, well, none.

Bottomline: MSFT: Love it or leave it. It ain't gonna change and you ain't gonna change it.

Anonymous said...

"As for the Dog-fight - dogs are pretty damned dependent on humans. Wolves, not so much. THey have evolved a well functioning team in which everyone does the work and benefits. Dog fights are fun to watch, but they dont accomplish much."

... especially for the dogs.

For those who think "I'll just do the dogfighting, play the game, climb the ladder", don't you see how destructive this is? Do you realize that, some time before the big payout, you're probably going to run into a bigger/badder/more experienced dog, and you're going to get destroyed?

The problem with the rat race is that, even if you win, you're still a rat (says Lily Tomlin). The problem with the dog fight is that the loser dies, and half the time the loser is you.

MSS

Anonymous said...

J Allard
First visionary leader


You just made milk come out my nose!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Guy Kawasaki? Mini, please say that you're joking. What has he done since leaving Apple that would convince you that he's capable of running Microsoft?


Well the ever-breathless Scobble (sic) always mentions him. So he must be good.

Anonymous said...

C'mon!? Christa Davies? J Allard?? Blood came out of my nose...J Allard and Robbie Bach championed a $24Bn investment into a business that has lost close to $5bn. And someone thinks that qualifies them to run the whole asylum? Christa Davies would be WAY out of her league. She reports into a guy who has managed to avoid hard decisions...until now. Poor Kevin looks like he's aged ten years in the past two. JeffR has promise so of the three division heads he would get my vote. It's a testament to his passion that he has been willing to stand in the wings this long

That said I cast my vote for an outsider. Someone with the balls to finally split the company up into 2 maybe 3 separate entities.

Depressing thing is that Steve's list probably includes folks like J Allard. Ego, hubris call it what you will, but it will prove MS undoing and will very likely determine the next CEO

Anonymous said...

RE: Keep Dreamin'
Ya...this post seems a lot more in the spirit of MiniMSFT than the original author's. Mini, it's pretty obvious HR/Lisa had the chance to make a change, and that time has since passed. Does anyone hear anything about changes in the pipeline? Personally, I'm leaning also toward the airing of dirty laundry like the previous poster suggested. From one perspective, it's a guerrilla war from the trenches to the ivory towers, right? (No, no, no, no union stuff, that's NOT what I'm implying. Just a wake up call.)

Anonymous said...

Collision Domain is spot on. Lafley would be a great CEO. In the new web 2.0 world it is all about shelf space and no one does that like P&G. MSN, Yahoo, Live, TBD... all sharing the same back-end but driving and thriving under different brands.

Anonymous said...

What has JAG done for anyone lately? I think it's bye-bye time for them...

Anonymous said...

Jawad Khaky
First religious ceo. Will cut salaries of all partners and increase his own.

J Allard
First visionary leader


I assume you were just trolling. Both would be horrible choices.

They might be great guys, but they are bad leaders.

Anonymous said...

"If it's a dog-fight, call it a dog-fight and say, hey, that's our culture."

Whoa there, I thought you wanted us to put down the broad brushes. There's a great big continuum between disempowered, passive-aggressive drone and promotion-obsessed sociopath and I am not advocating the latter.

What I *am* saying is that if there are people that can't think of anything to do within or outside the company that will help out their team or MS or the industry[1] and incidentally get them noticed and remembered (inside or outside), there is something seriously wrong with those people[2]. The world is a gigantic place chock full of things to improve and places to contribute and MS isn't all that tiny itself[3].

tl;dr: It's time for tough love, kids. If MS is a dog eat dog company[4], quit being the whipped curs and show some gumption or stop whimpering and enjoy the doggie chow. Canning Ballmer and the rest of the clowns, sending all the H1-Bs home, unionizing, etc. is not going to help any of you, only *you* can help you and, being a Microsoftie, odds are you have all the skill you need to do it.

(And you, Who 'da Punk, you can bandy about phrases like "dog-eat-dog culture" all you want but, even if it's true, it's just enabling people to stay stuck in their feelings of victimhood instead of getting up and doing something about it. You claim you don't want to be the patron saint of the disempowered victim. I'll ask you straight up: do you mean it? Because, honestly, I can't tell.)

[1] And I mean genuinely, not that fake stuff that people manufacture to pad their reviews.
[2] As an example, I was invited to be a reviewer for submissions for an industry conference just by chatting with a few attendees, and believe me, most of your are at least as qualified as I am for that.
[3] That isn't to say a person's current manager is going to recognize them for it; MS has no shortage of worthless managers. It doesn't matter. Get over it, keep doing it, and move on because it absolutely does matter over the long run in your career.
[4] Which it ain't. You guys have no idea what that *really* looks like.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to disappoint all you engineering geeks but the next CEO is not going to be a techie.It will most likely be an MBA.

As for any 3 of MS presidents becoming CEO I don't know.

Robbie Bach seems to be the most talented in terms of being a strategist but he's weak as an operator.

Kevin Johnson seems to be strong as an operator but weak as a strategist.

I don't know what to make of Raikes.

The next CEO should most definitely be an MS insider though.

Anonymous said...

"If it's a dog-fight, call it a dog-fight and say, hey, that's our culture. It's common corporate culture. Live with it or go elsewhere."

A lot of comments have criticized this but I think what mini is trying to get at is that the we need real transparency in the company i.e. we have all this hr waffle about career path, career compasses etc. that is designed to give the impression that everything is normal at MS but the reality on the ground is a nasty dog-fight.

However to argue that it's common corporate culture doesn't justify it; an aspiration toward the prevailing level of mediocrity doesn't spell success for any corporation.

The great tragedy here is if all the resources that are wasted on fear based infighting were actually focussed on harnessing the talent we have here, this would be the most productive and efficient company in the world. In that kind of environment we wouldn't need to be a mini msft to be lean and mean.

Anonymous said...

"If it's a dog-fight, call it a dog-fight and say, hey, that's our culture."

If it is a dog-fight then we should also admit that there is absolute failure in management.

I would suggest people look at the points made here:


the 7 worst habits of hamburger management


Then reflect on the state of our management.

Anonymous said...

Someone has a job title of "Principal Princess" in "Marketplace R&D". What the hell is that?

Anonymous said...

I remember reading a news article about 10 years ago that talked about how Gates and Ballmer together made the perfect CEO. If you think about it, that statement probably is close to the truth if each one brings his respective strengths to the table, is engaged in his job 100%, and balances out the other’s weaknesses.

However, I think that what has been hurting Microsoft more than anything of late has been that Gates has gradually tuned out to focus on special projects and his charitable activities. If Gates isn’t keeping Ballmer in check, then nobody is keeping Ballmer in check. I have no objections to Gates retiring, but, if he is going to retire, I think that Ballmer needs to go with him.

Now, who I do think should be the next CEO? To answer that question, I had to ask myself what I think is most needed at Microsoft right now. Right now, what I think is most needed at Microsoft is someone who can clean house, instill accountability at the executive level, and make tough decisions based on objective criteria. I would like to see someone kind of like the former CFO Jon Connors but with more technical knowledge. I think we definitely need someone from the outside.

Anonymous said...

>>Someone has a job title of "Principal Princess" in "Marketplace R&D". What the hell is that?

It's the next rank after Senior Princess, but below Partner Princess. Take a look at the Princess CSPs for more info.

Anonymous said...

It's the next rank after Senior Princess, but below Partner Princess.

Who's the prince assembling this harem?

Anonymous said...

If SteveB chooses his successor...

...it will be Kevin Turner.

On that thought, have you ever seen the two of them in the same place at the same time?

Kind of like Michael and Latoya Jackson.

Makes you think.

Anonymous said...

>>"even if it's true, it's just enabling people to stay stuck in their feelings of victimhood instead of getting up and doing something about it"

People being enabled by a blog ? you're kidding, right?

Leave the inane pop-psychology to Oprah and Dr.Phil.

Anonymous said...

...it will be Kevin Turner.

My building receptionist has started greeting everyone Walmart style when they arrive to work recently. Maybe he knows something we don't?

Anonymous said...

Hmm... Guy has the vision thing, but I've never seen any evidence that he's much of a leader. Running Acius and running the Evil Empire are jobs on vastly different scales.

He would be a vast improvement over Ballmer, but that's really not saying much.

Anonymous said...

meet with your manager two times a month, his manager every month, his manager every 2 months, his manager every 4 months, etc. Don't forget to send all of them an easy-to-read summary [one screen email] of your accomplishments (with concrete examples/names) right before the calibration meetings.

Well since I've said buh-bye to Microsoft I can't do any of this, but looking back (without I hope turning into a pillar of salt)...

Meeting my manager? Easy. His manager? Possible, but he would cancel the meeting at least half the time. HIS manager? Virtually impossible. HER manager? Completely impossible, not even comprehendible that they would deign to meet with me.

Also, how would it make your chain of command feel when you -- little old you -- were meeting with this endless list of higher-ups? Frankly, it would cause tremendous suspicion and ill-will. And really, c'mon,I'm going to schedule a meeting with a guy four levels above me and then sit there and tell him how great I am?

It would be my first meeting with him and my last.

PS - MEET with the guy? In two years I saw him once for about 20 minutes giving a speech.

Anonymous said...

Well, if the worst came to the worst, you could do a swap with the Federal government - Prez McCain gets Ballmer, and Microsoft gets Dubya. :-)

Facetiously, what are the requirements? Turning a flat Microsoft around in a market that's getting bored with Microsoft? Restoring the heady days of the early nineties, when it seemed nothing could go wrong? Or resetting Microsoft to hang in on a steady but somewhat humdrum and more normal growth rate? Then, who best fulfills them? Mini?

Reducing the headcount would be the only way to handle a shift in priorities as drastic as the resetting option - frankly, getting rid of much of the superstructure's going to be the only way to save Microsoft from itself. Otherwise, Microsoft's going to make itself look silly.

Who's the prince assembling this harem?

Lecherous grin; rubbing of hands That's my job!

Yours eponymously
Epon

Anonymous said...

With Google increasingly moving into Softie’s territory, why does MSFT not fight back by offering free keywords? This will clearly put Google in check and Microsoft will increase traffic on MSN.

If there are anti-trust issues, offer the first 1000 hits or more for free. Ebay fought back few weeks ago and GOOG learned its lesson. Read this interesting article for more details.

http://www.thestreet.com/_yahoo/newsanalysis/stockpickr/10365544.html&cm_ven=YAHOO&cm_cat=FREE&cm_ite=NA

Anonymous said...

MEET with the guy? In two years I saw him once for about 20 minutes giving a speech.

In the case of the Mobile Division we get to see Pieter Knook every once in a blue moon when he schedules a division-wide meeting in a room designed to seat 10% of the total staff. If you don't leave for the meeting early enough to get a seat you get to stand in the hallway or go back to your office and watch a crappy quality webcast of His Highness.

Anonymous said...

Hello former colleagues. I left you 3 years ago for the big up and coming competitor. I still am friends with many of you on a personal level. My first visit to mini in over a year... glad to see the traffic and debate continues.

But to be honest... reading comments, it's obvious most of you who come here are still smart, but I have one simple request for you. Please accept that the 90's are over. Much of what you communicate just doesn't seem to fit anymore. I have to sort of think back and reflect to understand your posts about software, testing, development cycles, processes, the way long overdue firing of Ballmer... It all just seems so old fashioned.

Sorry to batter my battered and beat up friends and former family but really what decade are you living in?

Anonymous said...

Mobile Division

That would be the mobile division which hasn't managed to come up with a compelling phone OS despite working on it for about a decade? The same guys who get their lunch eaten by apple right now?

What have you folks been doing with the money my work brings in? Oh, wait, you were in meetings.

Anonymous said...

"In the case of the Mobile Division we get to see Pieter Knook every once in a blue moon when he schedules a division-wide meeting..."

I heartily endorse this example of naming names. Let them know you mean THEM, not some other person who's not as skilled, talented and good-looking as they are...

Name names!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Apple employees get free 8GB iPhones.

We can't even get a free copy of Vista or Office 2007.

Cheap bastards.

Anonymous said...

My group gave away free t-shirts and beer today between 4-7pm. This is management's way of responding to Apple giving it's employees free iPhones.

BTW, the t-shirts were extra large. I'm going to use mine as a mop to clean my car.

Anonymous said...

Tony Blair is my man for CEO position.

Anonymous said...

Guy is not a bad choice but his appointment will piss off alot of people here.

Guy would be perfect CEO of Apple after Job.

I hope Robbie/KJ don't get the job. Don't get me started with that Wal-mart fellow. We don't need that Wal-mart inept craps around here.

Kawasaki would be better than any of the three.

Anonymous said...

Apple employees get free 8GB iPhones.

We can't even get a free copy of Vista or Office 2007.

Cheap bastards.


Well, let's be honest. Those of us in Windows did get a free copy of Ultimate. In special cardboard boxing, too!

But the sentiment still stands. The fleece sweatshirt we got as a ship gift probably cost the manufacturer a whopping $2 in COGS and probably cost MS $5 each.

And then there was the craptacular B26 Garage Ship Party. Hold me back!

It's almost insulting enough to ask, "Why bother?" Frankly, I'd rather had an additional 2 days off (making that a full work week and NOT counting the holiday) than lame stuff like that.

Someone proposed custom Zunes with the Vista pearl for the d-pad. That would've been okay. I'd take a free one as a spare for my iPod. And, hey, maybe we get a little marketing out of the fact that the ENTIRE Windows division may actually be carrying a Zune around publicly.

Let's face it, though. Apple's currently flying high. Their hardware pipeline is impressive and all their software needs to do is not suck. Good thing Jobs didn't buy out Nintendo before Wii came out. Add Wii to the Apple cannon and merge it with AppleTV and you've got one helluva living room appliance. Probably in a sexy little case, too.

Anonymous said...

Apple employees get free 8GB iPhones.

BFD. They still have to pay for the AT&T contract.

Anonymous said...

Two comments:

1: Guy Kawasaki??? You gotta be kidding. Do we really need more style over substance?

2: Sheesh, lots of whiney entitlement going on here. Look, kids, if you want a free i-phone, go work for that megalomaniac in Cupertino.

Anonymous said...

>>Apple employees get free 8GB iPhones.

- "Can you hear me now?" "Hello?"

Hopefully they'll have lots of games and stuff on them as with Cing- I mean AT&T, there might not be a lot of telephonic communication going on - second to last or last in every state for coverage.

Still, they'll look cool, and that's the main thing :-)

Anonymous said...

How come iphone had so much free publicity while we have a whole marketing team for vista and see nothing.

This is frustrating. Someone needs to get fired.

To be honest, I was thinking AAPL won't meet their target for iphone. I changed my mind and start think they hit another jackpot.

For the comment on Free VISTA or Office 2007. Work on those products, you get your throphy box !!!

Anonymous said...

The current debate on corporate culter and leadership has been fascinating to follow.

One of the good points has been the need for different management styles in different phases of the organizational lifecycle.

But the linked story about "working in Google" set me thinking about changes in organizational culture through that lifecycle.

Google's culture has been likened to '80s Microsoft. The problem may be that Microsoft's culture is in transition to '80s IBM. If a previous employer of mine is anything to go by, it's a hard transition from go-getting ethics-free dog-eat-dog culture to that of a mature "blue chip" organisation that is a trusted leader in its chosen domain.

There was a lot of bitchiness amongst the old dogs, lots of derision for the clueless managers - and unfortunately also for the good ones who were tainted by the organization's mid-life crisis.

Fortunately as for individuals most organisations get through the mid-life crisis without becoming the equivalent of a wife-beater or a drunken bum. The firm I worked at nearly made it to the gutter, but at the last minute was bought by a mature player in the bigger market of which we occupied a niche.

What's the lesson for Microsoft?

Grow old gracefully.

It's too late to try to become a pop star, sports hero, or astronaut. Accept that there are things that you do well, and things that others do better. Why waste your money trowelling on make-up for the disco when you have no hope of competing with the sweet young things?

Now, as a customer, let me explain how you can make a lot more money off your existing business.

Become worthy to be trusted.

Stop playing stuipd lock-in games. I don't want products that are designed to make me buy another product.

One Windows version.
One Office version.
No proprietary file formats & protocols.

And make only a 100% net margin on these products, not 400%.

As a customer we simply ask that the price of products is fair in comparison to what it costs you to make them. Then you would see us ditching a boatload of open source software in favour of your products.

Come on guys, if IBM could grow up you can too.

Anonymous said...

BFD. They still have to pay for the AT&T contract.

Guy who said the above in response to someone posting that Apple employees get a free IPhone; Stop your freaking nit-picking.

You are just sour that we work for one of the most financially rich companies IN THE WORLD and MS doesn't give us shit. At least Apple threw their employees a bone, a $500 bone. Yes, they still have to pay for the contract but considering most people have cell phones and pay $50-$60 a month anyways, what is another $10-$30. No wonder you guys suck. All some of you people do is nit-pick and drag everyone down with you.

Excerpt from Seattletimes.com article about people waiting in line for the IPhone....

"At Bellevue Square, about 100 people were waiting by midafternoon, with employees from a nearby Starbucks coming by with a coffee cart (compliments of Apple) every hour and a half."

This is one of the reason, one of the many reasons, why Apple is doing so well these days. They go out of their way to please their customers. And yes for a company like Apple spending a $100 or so dollars on coffee is very small in the grand scheme of things but look at what they just accomplished. For those 100 or so people who were given the free coffee, that little thing will stick with them for a while so what do you think will happen when they are ready to buy another computer. They may really consider an Apple instead of a MS based pc. And look at all the people who will be readying this article in the Seattle area and maybe elsewhere. Everyone will think, "WOW, that is pretty cool of Apple to do that for their customers" And yes I used "WOW" on purpose because MS spent hundreds of millions of dollars on our stupid "WOW Vista" crappy marketing campaign.

You can read more about the article at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2003769017_iphone30.html

Anonymous said...

>BFD. They still have to pay for the AT&T contract.

btw, I wouldn't take on a cingular or ATT phone contract even if I was paid to. Worst cell phone company in the world.

>"Don't get me started with that Wal-mart fellow."

Ok, I will then. Just understand that everything you do, everything you know will be outsourced, offshored or cheapened should that happen. Heck, it may happen anyway.

These people would sell their mothers for a buck, which is exactly what sending all labor off shore/south of the border does:
From your MSNBC.com: What to do when everything is ‘Made in China?’
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19508453/

Anonymous said...

Sir Richard Branson for Microsoft CEO. A successful, market innovator, risk taker and savy business guy is what MS needs badly.

Anonymous said...

"Look, kids, if you want a free i-phone, go work for that megalomaniac in Cupertino."

Did Ballmer move?

Anonymous said...

Somewhat OT, but I figured this is the best place to ask. I'm a current MSFT employee and I'm trying to see the boilerplate NDA and non-compete agreements I signed. I couldn't find these on hrweb, and I don't want to call attention by emailing hr. Can somebody either post the intranet URL, or email it to anonminimsft@gmail.com?

Anonymous said...

Well, let's be honest. Those of us in Windows did get a free copy of Ultimate. In special cardboard boxing, too!

Yeah, and we are still waiting for them to get one of the ship-it gifts ready. That's more than 6 months after RTM. Not only can we not do the bare minimum to please our customers, we can't even do it to please the people who worked on the product for several years! Meanwhile, the execs have their million dollar + bonuses and they're off on vacation somewhere.

But the sentiment still stands. The fleece sweatshirt we got as a ship gift probably cost the manufacturer a whopping $2 in COGS and probably cost MS $5 each. I think it was a little more than that, but yeah, it was pretty cheap. Also, several groups had their own fleeces made during this time, that were almost identical. You'd think they'd coordinate stuff like this. How many different jackets does a person need?

And then there was the craptacular B26 Garage Ship Party. Hold me back! Not the first time we've had a craptacular ship party in that garage. Makes me sick (and I mean that literally...the food made me gag).

Ask friends in other groups what they've done to celebrate the shipping of a product. And remember that most of those products bring in a fraction of the $$$ that Windows does. I think you'll be surprised by their responses.

Maybe they should deliver the next OS release be in the summer so that we can have an outdoor party for once :)

It really is a shame that we don't do a better job of getting hardware/software to employees to help promote it. The discounts for hardware in the CS are a joke. The prices for software there are MUCH higher than they need to be. Field employees were supposed to be hooked up with smartphones I think right around the time WM 5.0 came out. I don't believe that ever happened.

I'm not expecting MS to provide me with free hardware and software for EVERYTHING they make. But sell it to us at a larger discount. I'm sure they'll get more bang for that buck than they get from any of the absolutely awful TV commercials we've put out there. Speaking of that, when was the last time anyone has even seen a Vista commercial? Did we give up already?

Anonymous said...

http://www.management-issues.com/2007/6/7/research/bias-blights-performance-reviews.asp

Anonymous said...

To all Windows folks whining about lame ship gifts -- it'll get MUCH worse. Sinofsky is notorious for not spending an extra dime on gifts or morale events. Ask anyone from Office.

Anonymous said...

To all Windows folks whining about lame ship gifts -- it'll get MUCH worse. Sinofsky is notorious for not spending an extra dime on gifts or morale events. Ask anyone from Office.

What are you talking about? I got a nice book from him for the Holidays! Hardback, even! And I'm quite sure it wasn't from the bargain books section.

Anonymous said...

To all Windows folks whining about lame ship gifts -- it'll get MUCH worse. Sinofsky is notorious for not spending an extra dime on gifts or morale events. Ask anyone from Office.

So what does he do to keep up the morale of the people working under him?

Anonymous said...

So what does he do to keep up the morale of the people working under him?

Release frequently thereby providing justification for promos?

Anonymous said...

"Come on guys, if IBM could grow up you can too."

The problem with that is IBM had to go through a near-death experience before it was willing to change its attitudes. They must've had a mini-IBMer on board, because they threw out a whole lot of time-serving people.

One can dream ... ;)

Anonymous said...

>> Release frequently thereby providing justification for promos

Not really. There's a fixed promo budget. Only a certain percentage of people can be promoted, no matter where you are in the company. So promotion velocity is only a function of how "visible" you are, not how often you ship.

Sinofsky is also known for saying that new hires have to work 2-3 years for their first promo. Imagine a college grad coming in at L59 and having to bust his ass for 3 years to get a promo. That's when Google is about 5 miles away.

Anonymous said...

So promotion velocity is only a function of how "visible" you are, not how often you ship

So whats a good promotion velocity. Does it vary with level bands? 1 year? 2 year? 3 year certainly cant be good.

Anonymous said...

Imagine a college grad coming in at L59 and having to bust his ass for 3 years to get a promo.

What's so wrong with that? A delayed promo sets up the grad to succeed in the next level band where he's liable to get steamrollered by 61s and 62s.

Anonymous said...

So promotion velocity is only a function of how "visible" you are, not how often you ship …
Despite unfortunately this could be true sometimes but if you focus on "visibility" instead of really get something done, you are ruining yourself in long term and contribute to the decay of Microsoft culture. From a long time perspective, it’s more important to improve your skills fundamentally and grow into a really solid engineer and become an expert in several technical areas than focusing your attention on playing visibility and perception games. On the other hand, when you truly grow into such a strong engineer, you may realize MS is not the best place to work for strong people with integrity and honest.

Anonymous said...

If you're _really_ visible to your management and do the typical "superstar" shit (work 12 hours a day, create and then fix problems, be a loudmouth), you can get promoted once a year for 2-3 years. Usually promotions come at 18 to 24 month intervals, though, and if your management doesn't really like you, for whatever reason, no amount of ass busting will get you promoted faster. OTOH I know a couple of fairly competent folks who spent 3 to 4 years at L60. They did good work, but were hoping that promotions will happen by themselves. Alas, that only happens when you have a good manager who gives a shit, and they did not.

Moral of the story. If you want to get promoted:
1. Maneuver until you end up under a good manager
2. Build a relationship with your manager, let him know WTF you're doing, show him he can rely on you, don't make promises you can't keep.
3. Get to know your manager's manager, too.
4. Don't suck at what you do.
5. Show them that a) you're smart, b) you get shit done, c) you're not afraid to move somewhere else (most effective if you can show a and b and have worked somewhere else inside or outside MS).

Notice that work is #4 on the list. If the only thing you care about is promotion, just doing your work won't get you very far.

Anonymous said...

RE: Promotion Velocity

If you worked in adcenter then you essentially got promoted every 6-9 months. All other teams 24 to 30 months is median.

This is based on anecdotal evidences ;)

Anonymous said...

How lame are you bozos? I mean, are you 13? Who cares about ship gifts, just give me a good salary and promotion path. Sinofsky is doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

How lame are you bozos? I mean, are you 13? Who cares about ship gifts, just give me a good salary and promotion path.

I see repeated iterations of the same essential misunderstanding, over and over, on this site. It happened with the "feedback during the review process" discussion and here it is, again.

There's a difference between "I want to be treated a certain way, for my own reasons" and "the ways employees are treated reflect my concerns about the company's health/fortunes/direction."

Sometimes people want to provide negative supervisor feedback because they want to fix the system, not because they just want "revenge" or to "feel better" or to be treated better. Similarly, sometimes noticing big employee ship gifts at other companies (like Apple) indicates a revealing contrast in what's important to management, what management feels they can afford, etc.

Anonymous said...

Sinofsky is also known for saying that new hires have to work 2-3 years for their first promo. Imagine a college grad coming in at L59 and having to bust his ass for 3 years to get a promo.

Should be interesting, because a) Windows is full of managers who think a L59 who doesn't make L60 in 18 months is doing something wrong, and b) HR says 24 months without a promo gets you a one-way ticket to the Limited II Express (which doesn't mean you can't buy a return ticket when you get there, but there are only so many seats for the return trip).

Promo budgets and Limited II were why I finally left. I did the math (I was a manager with access to all the numbers for several years). The system was set up (intentionally or not) to create a high degress of forced attrition, especially above L62 (excluding Partner's of course). Coupled with the targets for college hires, it was clear the company was going to get younger. No amount of butt-busting or big-brain thinking was going to alter that.

As somoene already pointed out, if you're a dog in a dog-fighting world, eventually you lose. It's a bad path to be on. Those who think they'll win, eh, I'd say good luck, but I wouldn't really mean it.

I'm off to start up a new wolf pack.

Anonymous said...

Who cares about ship gifts, just give me a good salary and promotion path.

Those are the main things, true, but don't underestimate the power of a good ship gift. Now mind you, I said GOOD ship gift, not a lame fleece jacket.

A million years ago I worked at a medium-sized software company (long since consumed and ruined by a major player) that really understood the concept of ship gifts. We'd get them twice. Upon shipping beta, and then shipping final code.

A beta ship gift was a check, usually between $1,000 and $3,000. A final ship gift check would go from say $2,000 to $5,000. It depended on your importance and input into the project (some people might, for instance, have only been working part time on the release).

Pretty much everybody got one. Now that's in mid-90s dollars, but even now, it sure would have been sweet at Microsoft if they dropped me a $3K check for shipping the product I helped ship, as opposed to what I did get. Which was.... ummm.... I think it was some kind of ugly, pathetic jacket that I will never wear in my whole life.

$3K is not life-changing money, of course, but it's a damn fine "thank you" for a job well done. I mean, you can DO SOMETHING with that money, even if it's just put a dent in your Visa bill. You can go on a freaking vacation with that money.

It really felt good when your manager called you in, said thanks for the hard work, and handed you a few thousand bucks. And we all busted our asses day and night for that company, and nobody minded it.

As an additional note, in the aforementioned company we pretty much shipped a major release every year, so you'd be in line for two ship gifts a year on average (and yes, there was an end-of-year bonus as well). I guess it would be a different dynamic given Microsoft's nutty five year ship cycles, but you could just as well hand out cash for major milestones.

So put me down as a vote in favor of ship gifts, but ONLY if they are significant. Things like a fleece jacket are just insulting, and they serve only to make employees angry and resentful.

Anonymous said...

Mini,
In a PR meeting the other day, our PR lead indicated that corporate marketing knew your identity and indulged your blog as a kind of tacit mea culpa to employees. I tend not to believe this, but anything is possible. Can you weigh in?

Anonymous said...

Ship gifts matter. Just like the fact that towels matter. It's the principle of the thing.

Ask any married person, the littlest things often mattered the most.

Anonymous said...

If you worked in adcenter then you essentially got promoted every 6-9 months. All other teams 24 to 30 months is median.

There you go. There should be no question of losing talent to Google because the team in direct competition is being rewarded appropriately.

Who da'Punk said...

In a PR meeting the other day, our PR lead indicated that corporate marketing knew your identity and indulged your blog as a kind of tacit mea culpa to employees.

Hmm. I never thought it really hard for someone to figure out who I am. (Hey, drop my a Valentine in internal office mail, sometime!) So, that's a good a story as any.

In the meantime, I'll pine for some Valentine.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Mini,
In a PR meeting the other day, our PR lead indicated that corporate marketing knew your identity and indulged your blog as a kind of tacit mea culpa to employees. I tend not to believe this, but anything is possible. Can you weigh in?

------------

gee desperate "bait" ... after so many years is this the best HR can do?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments on the ship-it gifts. It's the principle of the thing. It's a long-standing tradition to do this. How could they screw up the gift so bad that it takes this long to fix? There's a kinko's right down the street for crying out loud. But I do like that suggestion for more cash better :)

Imagine what Windows would be like if we really had the best and the brightest all fighting to get a job on the project because they handed out bonuses that reflected its value to the company. Ahhhh, to dream.

But on a related note, I've heard rumblings that there may be something HUGE along these lines planned for later this year (company meeting maybe?). Not annual bonus huge. Bigger. More details to come as the event gets closer.

Anonymous said...

>>But on a related note, I've heard rumblings that there may be something HUGE along these lines planned for later this year (company meeting maybe?). Not annual bonus huge. Bigger. More details to come as the event gets closer.

There is some truth in this. I can't say directly... but let's just say that the number of chocolate cookies in the co. mtg. box lunch will be increased to a number larger than the current one!!*

* (But not to exceeed two. Cookie size may vary from traditional dimensions. Limited to stock on hand, requires two year contract. Terms and conditions may apply, on approval of credit. Offer not valid for employees or families. Ask your doctor if cookies are right for you.)

Anonymous said...

Not annual bonus huge. Bigger. More details to come as the event gets closer.

Ten times zero is still zero.

Anonymous said...

Bigger. More details to come as the event gets closer.

You mean two fleece jackets this time? Woooohoo! I LOVE THIS COMPANY!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Mini,
In a PR meeting the other day, our PR lead indicated that corporate marketing knew your identity and indulged your blog as a kind of tacit mea culpa to employees. I tend not to believe this, but anything is possible. Can you weigh in?


Heh. And your larger problem is that now the corporate PR lead knows YOUR identity, too, now (Or far more likely, you're a troll :)

Anonymous said...

"Consider the situation: money that was provided because of social networks rather than need; a project designed for prestige rather than use; a lack of monitoring and accountability; and an architect appointed for show by somebody with little interest in the quality of the work. The outcome is hardly surprising: A project that should never have been built was built, and built badly."

How much is Microsoft like Cameroon?

Anonymous said...

Mini, hopefully you're still moderating, please delete this message in this case.

You're not as hard to find as you think if someone really wants to. No matter what you do, your writing can be correlated to you using document stylometry analysis if someone has a corpus of text you were an author of, for example an archive of your mailbox. It's somewhat imprecise and out of 70K people they won't be able to pinpoint you exactly, but they'd prune down the search space pretty drastically.

So be careful. Ideally, have someone else write your posts in their own words, or look into document stylometry obfuscation.

Anonymous said...

I've rarely gotten "ship gifts". Once I got a nice leather coat, that I actually wore for a couple of winters. Twice I've gotten two or three extra days off, which rocked!

But various places I have worked have handed out shirts or fleece jackets as more of a morale or team-identity thing. When I bring one home, my wife says, "morale's low again, huh?"

MSS

Anonymous said...

Ship gifts matter. Just like the fact that towels matter. It's the principle of the thing.

Ask any married person, the littlest things often mattered the most.


Ask any married person; TRUST matters a whole lot more than trinkets.

Anonymous said...

Dilbert

I swear Scott Adams either works at MS or has a really good friend feeding him details of the the inner workings.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh, they are out to find Mini!

I had a similar experience at THE COMPANY THE NAME OF WHICH SHALL NOT BE MENTIONED.

This is YEARS back. The company was basically run by a bunch of crooks, and I ranted as such on various chat boards, mostly on Yahoo. Started while I worked there, and continued after I left. I had developed various anonymous contacts inside who fed me dirt, and I published it. Never anything illegal, mind you, mostly just stories about horrible management like we get on Mini. And some dips into questionable business practices. My major theme was the people running the company were swine. And sure enough, the company was verrryyyy interested in who was I. And they found out.

I learned this from a high level dude who spilled the beans to me --because he had been tasked with finding out who I was! They actually had him hunt me down. So they went to great lengths to find out, and one way or another they did. They knew who I was. Nothing ever came of it though.

Well no, that's not entirely true. One time I was at a job interview with a company closely associated with them, and I was told if I wanted the job I had to stop the chat board posting. Nice! Their reach was long.

All the while, several company defenders (probably tasked with doing so) routinely lambasted me on the same chat boards, calling me a disgruntled employee, a loser that got fired because he didn't have "the right stuff" (not true, I was never fired) and other smears. At one point they even went and posted my home address publicly. I kid you not. All in an attempt to intimidate me into silence.

Well I never did shut up. And other than the job intimidation thing, nothing ever happened to me, though at some points I was a bit nervous.

Gradually I got bored with the thing, and gave up on it. Plus, my informants had themselves moved on and I had no more dish. I stopped posting, and sat back and watched.

And a number of years later, a whole bunch of those Computer Associates executives ended up in jail.

Victory.

Anonymous said...

"Mini, hopefully you're still moderating, please delete this message in this case.

You're not as hard to find as you think if someone really wants to. No matter what you do, your writing can be correlated to you using document stylometry analysis if someone has a corpus of text you were an author of, for example an archive of your mailbox. It's somewhat imprecise and out of 70K people they won't be able to pinpoint you exactly, but they'd prune down the search space pretty drastically.

So be careful. Ideally, have someone else write your posts in their own words, or look into document stylometry obfuscation."


oh for crying out loud -- which jason bourne movie did you come from?

first of all -- the notion that microsoft cares enough about mini to do a "stylometric" analysis on writing style is probably the most over-blown bit of crazy that i can imagine. mini isn't giving out trade secrets costing the company billions, s/he is grousing about random organizational crap.

second of all -- if the execs at microsoft actually were insane enough to do something as intense as this to track mini down, then if i was mini i would be the first to be relieved that microsoft had revealed itself to be the freakish cabal of illuminati that you seem to believe it is... because that shit is seriously creepy. being fired from that kind of company is the right answer.

and as soon as i was fired from crazy microsoft for the above i'd go on the lecture circuit and make millions and then sell the rights to my story.

good grief people! use some common sense.

Anonymous said...

"let's just say that the number of chocolate cookies in the co. mtg. box lunch will be increased to a number larger than the current one!!"

No. If anything, there will be fewer cookies this year. The meeting is supposed to be a lot shorter.

Hopefully they'll do away with those awful employee singers. WTF wants to spend 20+ minutes watching those people besides the few dozen in attendance who know them? Get the VP's doing something like that and maybe then it'll be interesting. Too bad most managers these days have a huge stick up their ass about this stuff.

We miss you Brian!! :(

Anonymous said...

> they won't be able to pinpoint you exactly, but they'd prune down the search space pretty drastically.

It's interesting to note the amount of trust that posters invest in the cloaked figure of MiniMsft. While I enjoy reading this blog a great deal, it would be funny if the "they" alluded to above and the blog's author turned out to be the same people...

Anonymous said...

Today is approximately my one year anniversary of leaving MSFT after 11 years. I was a Level 67 woman, banging my head against the wall (or more like glass ceiling) trying to make "partner" and killing myself & my marriage in the process.

I now work for a hard-working start-up in Seattle (30+ people and growing) and couldn't be happier. While not every day is perfect, it's refreshing to read this blog and realize what a different world I am in now:

1. The people I work with are really smart(a number of our employees are of ex-MSFTies with more joining every week), motivated to do their jobs, and treat each other with dignity & respect.

2. Our Executive Management is mentally/emotionally mature, grounded in reality of business, value work-life balance, and treat the employees with honesty and respect. (see a theme here?)

3. Decisions are made quickly and executed rapidly. No grand-standing, land-grabbing, ego-boatsing, political posturing, etc. We're all pulling towards a common goal.

4. We are accountable to our deliverables, our professional behavoir, and each other. I no longer have to tolerate actions and communications from peers who hide their own incompetency behind obnoxious management styles or the protective shield of HR.

5. I recognize that when I work really hard (and I do, every day), it directly contributes to my company's success, and therefore my own.

6. Tomorrow is a holiday. I don't expect there will be much email across the team (except maybe a little from us ex-MSFTies...old habits die hard) that will be waiting for me on Thursday. I don't feel the need to have to spend a day off "catching up."

Net net - if you're spending alot of time reading this blog and have been thinking about leaving, then do it. You don't have to tolerate the working environment you're in, or feel vitimized by the realities & circumstance beyond the majority of your control. There are more feasible alternatives out there. Yes, there is some risk - and less freebies - but life is short and do you want to spend it feeling trapped, frustrated, and ultimately used?

Keep up the good work Mini....whoever you are. This blog and the posting on it helps remind me why its good to be out why and I'll never go back.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to note the amount of trust that posters invest in the cloaked figure of MiniMsft. While I enjoy reading this blog a great deal, it would be funny if the "they" alluded to above and the blog's author turned out to be the same people...


Great, another conspiracy nut suggesting that Mini is LisaB...Mini has already cleared that up, He/She IS NOT LisaB (sorry, I don't want to dig through the archives to link the exact post).

Though mixing this recent thread tangent with the topic at hand...IF (and that is a BIG "if") management identifies Mini, I'd personally like to see Mini become the next CEO!!!! Multiple posters over the history of this blog have commented that their toddlers would be a better choice than Steve, so while we wait for them to get out of Elementary School, I nominate Mini for CEO!!!!!

Anonymous said...

>because that shit is seriously creepy. being fired from that kind of company is the right answer.

What, like the HP pretexting scandal didn't exist? Of course creepy stuff can happen.

>it would be funny if the "they" alluded to above and the blog's author turned out to be the same people...

I doubt it. There would be all sorts of legal issues with that if it got out of control.

Anonymous said...

I'd like 5 fleece jackets at the Company meeting please. Its too damn cold there! Can we please go to the Tacoma dome instead? At least its indoors with heat!

Trying to stay warm zaps the excitement and maybe would make the presenters more lively.

I miss the (warmth of the) Kingdome!

Anonymous said...

>> use some common sense

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stylometry

Seems pretty straightforward.

Anonymous said...

"Great, another conspiracy nut suggesting that Mini is LisaB...Mini has already cleared that up, He/She IS NOT LisaB (sorry, I don't want to dig through the archives to link the exact post)."

anyone who has ever read something from lisab knows that she's not mini -- whatever lisa may or may not be, she can't write her way out of a paper bag and her stuff is filled with the worst grammar errors and typos evar.

Anonymous said...

on promotion velocity

What level is a Principal Program Manager at? 64 or 65?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of ship gifts, everyone in India (MS India) is getting an XBox this year...how about that? :)

Anonymous said...

What level is Principal Program Manager?

PM 59-60 (was 10)
PM II 61-62 (was 11)
Senior PM 63-64 (was 12)
Principle PM 65-67 (was 12, 13, 13)
Partner PM 68+ (was 14)

Same model for the other disciplines. Look on HRWeb for more info.

Anonymous said...


PM 59-60 (was 10)
PM II 61-62 (was 11)
Senior PM 63-64 (was 12)
Principle PM 65-67 (was 12, 13, 13)
Partner PM 68+ (was 14)


Actually, just a little piece of trivia on the Comp2000 level remapping. You're basically 1 level off. Here's how it really went down:

PM 58-59 (was 10)
PM II 60-61 (was 11)
Senior PM 62-64 (was 12)
Principle PM 65-67 (was 13)
Partner PM 68+ (was 14)

Interestingly, product group employees got the upper level of the range while ITG/PSS/etc. got the lower. So, for example, a L11 Office PM got slotted to 61 while the L11 IT Apps Dev got slotted to 60. This was how they gave product group people a little bump over ITG.

Over time, however, the fallacy became true and so people came to believe that the mapping occurred as the original poster declared. This was how they "pushed" everyone down a notch.

Anonymous said...

I won't be making it to the company meeting this year after 7.5 years at MS.

MS was the company I admired most when I started. I have another company in my admiration list now. I am going to join them in Sept.

While I'm leaving close to 900 stock awards/year behind me when I leave - I'm risking it. I believe that with hardworking and smarts I can get it back soon.

Good luck to all !!!

Anonymous said...

Net net - if you're spending alot of time reading this blog and have been thinking about leaving, then do it.

Amen. I recently left, as well. This post is dead-on.

You can do better...

Anonymous said...

Actually, just a little piece of trivia on the Comp2000 level remapping. You're basically 1 level off. Here's how it really went down:

Nope, the original poster was right.

old 10 went to 59-60
old 11 went to 61-62
old 12 went to 63-65
old 13 went to 66-67

Whether you ended up slotted high or low depended on your managment chain and how much they wanted to reward you (like every other Review decision). I'm sure there were different budgets for different groups that influenced that (since slotting high meant more $$), and I can certainly believe ITG having a lower overall budget with fewere high slots.

For Old 12, at least for D12 (Dev), the rule was only slot to 65 if you were about to promote them to D13 (L66).

Now, a major caveat. The whole Comp2000 things was badly handled by HR, with massive confusion, poor explanation, and obviously little effort put into thinking through scenarios. For example, if you had a D11 you were going to promote (under the old system) do D12, HR gave out conflicting guidance on whether you should slot to L62 and then promote to L63, or slot directly to L63. It was very clear they hadn't thought about that - obviously common - scenario before hand.

So, the net effect is I'm certain different groups ended up with wildly different "official" implementations of Comp2000, and perhaps both the OP and the response (and my response as well) are different, yet still correct.

For those customers reading (Hi Keeperplanet), perhaps this helps explain why MSFT products have so many usability problems. HR sets the standard with how they pay everyone...

Anyway, I believe Comp2000 was really just a reaction to stagnation at the old level 12. A lot of very good engineers were piling up at level 12 with long waits ahead of them for another promotion, and their stock options were underwater, so they had little financial incentive to stay. By adding new levels, the company wanted to give the impression of faster career velocity. The problem is, most of those D12s got at most one more promotion before they hit the new stagnation point at L64.

I don't think you can underestimate the importance of L64 across the company. They are the Dev Leads, PM Leads, Test Managers, and senior IC Devs. MSFT can give awards to the Dave Cutlers of the company (and most do deserve it), but the L64s in the company have the biggest impact on the quality of the products Microsoft ships. Low morale and talent drain from these levels is a massive problem.

Anonymous said...

Nope, the original poster was right.

No, he wasn't. Don't try to pass off your conjecture for fact.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can underestimate the importance of L64 across the company. They are the Dev Leads, PM Leads, Test Managers, and senior IC Devs. MSFT can give awards to the Dave Cutlers of the company (and most do deserve it), but the L64s in the company have the biggest impact on the quality of the products Microsoft ships. Low morale and talent drain from these levels is a massive problem.

But this I agree with. The "Senior" band has the greatest direct impact on all of the major products, but it is precisely this band that is starting to attrit in a bad way.

It will not be good if the Principal and Partner bands get dug in and the College Hire band keeps coming in without a solid core of Seniors. You'll end up with a bunch of cooks telling all of the line chefs to add salt without anyone in the middle who has done this before telling the newbs how to actually make something that tastes good.

Anonymous said...

UPDATE: Microsoft Sets $1 Billion Charge Due To Xbox Failures

July 05, 2007: 09:05 PM EST


SAN FRANCISCO (Dow Jones) -- Microsoft Corp. said late Thursday that it will take a charge of up to $1.15 billion, due to an expanded warranty program for what it called an "unacceptable" number of repairs required for its Xbox video- game system.

Microsoft (MSFT) said that due to the needed repairs for the Xbox 360, it will be "enhancing" its warranty policy for the devices, expanding coverage to three years.

The company will "take a $1.05 billion to $1.15 billion pretax charge to earnings for the fourth quarter that ended June 30 for anticipated costs under its current and enhanced Xbox 360 policies," it said.

In a conference call with analysts, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell said that the charge will have no impact on the company's overall guidance for fiscal 2008. The entertainment and devices unit president, Robbie Bach, added that the company still Microsoft expects the Xbox business to become profitable sometime in fiscal 2008, thanks to factors such as the release of the highly anticipated "Halo 3" in September.

Microsoft specifically cited the "three flashing red lights" error message encountered by Xbox 360 users experiencing hardware failures.

The company said that it will repair or replace devices that experience the " Red Ring of Death" within three years of their purchase. Previously, Microsoft offered a one-year warranty for Xbox consoles.

Microsoft also said that it will retroactively reimburse customers who have paid for repairs related to the red-light error message.

Hardware issues with the Xbox 360 have been widely reported lately, and the red-light message was dubbed the Red Ring of Death by gamers and bloggers.

Various published reports place the failure rate of Xbox 360 consoles at between 30% and 33%.

Liddell said that at the end of June, Microsoft had sold 11.6 million Xbox consoles. That figure falls short of prior estimates: Liddell said in January that Microsoft expected to have sold 12 million of the consoles by the end of June.

Bach declined to disclose the number of consoles that have experienced failures, though he said that "with a billion-dollar charge... it's a meaningful number."

The online publication DailyTech reported on July 3 that a British game- console repair company has withdrawn its service for the red-light error, citing the high volume of requests for such repairs.

In addition, a blog has been published specifically addressing the Red Ring of Death and offering methods for preventing it.

Bach said that no evidence of the red-light error message surfaced during the first months after the Xbox 360's release late last year, but elaborated with the following: "In the last couple of months, we started to see significant increases in repair requests ... and significant attention from people, so we geared up to respond to that."

The executive added that an alteration already has been implemented in both consoles Microsoft has in its inventory, as well as those now being manufactured. "We think we have our hands around it at the engineering level."

The $1.05 billion to $1.15 billion charge comes as Microsoft last reported having $28.2 billion in cash and short-term investments on hand at the end of its fiscal third quarter ended in March.

Microsoft is due to report fourth-quarter earnings July 19.

The Xbox constitutes a relatively small portion of Microsoft's revenue. The company's entertainment and devices unit, which includes the Xbox, posted $947 million in revenue for the company's third quarter, compared with $5.28 billion in revenue for the Microsoft's client unit, which includes its flagship Windows operating system.


(END) Dow Jones Newswires
07-05-07 2105ET
Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Anonymous said...

Dare on performance related compensation is a great summary of research in the field: here.

Anonymous said...


I now work for a hard-working start-up in Seattle (30+ people and growing) and couldn't be happier.


Sounds great. Let's say I want to learn more about your company, how would I look it up?

Anonymous said...

>UPDATE: Microsoft Sets $1 Billion Charge Due To Xbox Failures

As the executive in charge of this program, this is intended to show profit in FY08. You will see XBoX people get rewarded well this year. XBoX is on course to become profitable in FY08.

Anonymous said...

When I joined Microsoft in 98, I had dreams of making a million or 2. It seemed a real possibility during my first 2 years, but of course we all know the story. I left Microsoft for a startup a few months ago after surrendering to the notion that the next Microsoft isn't Microsoft. Don't get me wrong, Microsoft pays well, has excellent benefits and in general a good place to make a living. But the fun is lost when you realize people around you are paying more and more attention to pay levels and promotions.

Anonymous said...

Comps and Promotions

Reading recent threads on the various levels and the Comp2000 mess, I can now relate to an incident where a person in my org was promoted every year. One year she went to 64, the next she was 65. After the recent title changes, I finally confronted our GM who told me to contact my HR generalist. HR gave me no explanation on how someone can be promoted to 64 one year and then to 65 the very next year.

The result of my inquiry was that I was chastised by HR who claimed that promotions and levels are confidential and I should not be looking at other's levels. Heck, one can easily look at a title and make a guess!

Has anyone else experiencd this before?

Her promotion velocity defies all laws of gravity. We were both at the same level. Three years down the road, I am exactly at the same level despite the 4.0s and Exceeded, while she is now two levels higher than I am.

Just what do I have to do to be promoted? What are my options now that I have formally complained to HR specifically citing the example of this lady in my group?

Can anyone out there help me understand what my options are here? Or should I suck it up, pop a few pills and hang myself in my office?

Microsoft system stinks!

Anonymous said...

Nope, the original poster was right.

No, he wasn't. Don't try to pass off your conjecture for fact.


I don't know which of you is right but I do know this: I went from an 11 to a 62.

Anonymous said...

What are my options now that I have formally complained to HR specifically citing the example of this lady in my group?...Or should I suck it up, pop a few pills and hang myself in my office?

Considering that you weren't bright enough to avoid talking to HR about in the first place...

Quit said...

Mini, I don't know if you're going to filter this, but I hope not :-) This is the first time I've posted here, after following your blog for quite a while. I quit after almost a decade at Microsoft. I had a good run, but it was time to try something else. Regardless of politics, promotions, salaries, stock, etc., I think it's healthy for all employees to shake things up and take a look at the bigger world outside. If you're a solid L62+, you can always go back to Microsoft after taking a risk on something cool elsewhere. Maybe your risk will go Bingo and you'll have the wealth you always dreamed of. But if not, you'll still be happier because you stepped out, took a breath of fresh air, and gave yourself a chance to clear your mind. A few people on this comment trail have been asking for leads on opportunities outside Microsoft. My company is looking for people. I need senior devs (L62+) and testers (L61+), and would be happy to talk to you. Send me email at quit.msft@gmail.com. It's a small company in dowtown Seattle. We have VC money and great prospects. If you live on the west-side, want a short commute, value work-life balance, and are willing to take a small risk, we can meet to see if you're a good fit. I can talk you through all the pros and cons of leaving. I went through it all myself.

Anonymous said...

$1bn in one quarter...XBOX and the rest of E&D must must be spun off. Shareholders would support the move. The markets would reward us with a higher valuation. Shoot, I bet even E&D management would vote "yes" What boggles my mind is the way folks rate Robbie's strategic abilities so highly in the face of a track record that suggests otherwise. Losing close to $6bn in as many years, along with a much larger capital investment does not indicate strategic skills. It certainly does indicate a flair for risk taking and creativity ;-)

Anonymous said...

"Her promotion velocity defies all laws of gravity. We were both at the same level. Three years down the road, I am exactly at the same level despite the 4.0s and Exceeded, while she is now two levels higher than I am.

Just what do I have to do to be promoted? What are my options now that I have formally complained to HR specifically citing the example of this lady in my group?

Can anyone out there help me understand what my options are here? Or should I suck it up, pop a few pills and hang myself in my office?

Microsoft system stinks!"


time for a reality check -- given any two people who perform equally well, it's entirely possible for managers to have a conversation about which one is best suited to succeed when placed in a new level band and context. perhaps some people think you just don't quite have what it takes to be a principal and she does -- that's a projective guess based on future potential and goes beyond your demonstrated work which may indeed be equally impressive.

as for the promo velocity -- i've been promoted each year for the last three years in the same level range that you're discussing, and i know a few other people who have as well. not only are we getting "exceeded", but somebody has an idea about what they believe we'll be bringing to the company 5 years from now based on a best-guess at our future potential. they don't want us to leave and they believe we have the potential to significantly grow our businesses, so they're fast-tracking us through the levels and as long as it appears that we haven't hit a performance ceiling then i expect we'll continue movin' on.

it's never a good thing to do the kind of sour grapes comparison your'e doing here -- there are a billion reasons why your peer is moving more quickly than you are (maybe legit, maybe bad management) that you likely have no insight into, including the very simple fact that the people who matter might just like her more than you. and there's nothing unique to microsoft in that.

the best thing you can do is ignore your peers' performance unless you're looking to emulate successful characteristics -- but even then, don't make the mistake of getting into a comparison matrix because that's just the road to suffering. if you believe you're truly kicking ass yet being treated unfairly and your managers can't provide you with good info about how to hit the next level, then it's time for you to look elsewhere.

hitting 65 is really, *really* hard and involves a lot of right time/right place voodoo, astrological alignment and the support of a number of people above you... it's not just based on the work you've already done, but a shared belief in what you can do -- and that's exactly what you need to prove before you'll be a 65.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft announces plans to build a Development Centre in Canada and cites the U.S.'s tight restrictions on "highly skilled" immigrants as a reason for moving to Canada:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2003776742_bizbriefs06.html

This, despite the fact that the world's best universities are right here in the United States.

Now do you believe that Microsoft is looking for smarter employees or cheaper employees?

Anonymous said...

"'Nope, the original poster was right.'

No, he wasn't. Don't try to pass off your conjecture for fact."

>"To all Windows folks whining about lame ship gifts -- "

Now kids, time for your nap. Drink your milk and take your blankie to your room. And no Xbox till Microsoft fixes it!

And the W**h boy said "W********h"

Anonymous said...

Don't try to pass off your conjecture for fact.

I wasn't conjecturing, those were the facts. At least as my org implemented it. As I said in my post, the Comp2000 rollout was so badly botched, with several lurches back and forth as HR tried to react to problems, by the time it was over you may very well have had differnt facts in your org than in mine.

I particularly remember that L12 mapped to three bands in the new scheme, 63-65, because there was a great desire to increase the spread of pay scales for the old L12ers. And I specifically remember the rule (in our group) that you could only slot someone to L65 if you were going to immediately promote them to L66, so it seems even then there were second thoughts on where the Senior/Principle line should be.

Anyway, I recall Comp2000 as the beging of HR doing stupid goofy stuff instead of focusing on wining an dinging potential hires.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone out there help me understand what my options are here? Or should I suck it up, pop a few pills and hang myself in my office?

There is nothing you can do about it. HR's job is to get rid of problems for the company. They aren't there to help employees. Complaining to HR is useless. I've done that. Have you noticed that a lot of HR generalists are good looking and personable? You see them and you melt and your problem suddenly becomes less of a problem. Then you start complaining to him/her and he/she just sites there and smiles at you.

Anonymous said...

This, despite the fact that the world's best universities are right here in the United States.

Now do you believe that Microsoft is looking for smarter employees or cheaper employees?


Yes, the US has the best universities. But they are training people from overseas who are hired by the company on OPT(practical training) for a year who then must transition to the H1B and eventually to a green card.

The fact is that a few hundred Microsoft employees have not been able to transition from the OPT to the H1B this year and a few thousand employees have not been able to get green cards for the last 4-5 years or so. If anything the Vancouver center was long overdue and even is smaller (employing hundreds) when it should be larger (employing thousands). If Canadian work permits and green cards are available in a resonable fashion, there will be a crush of employees looking to move North.

Anonymous said...

>Now do you believe that Microsoft is looking for smarter employees or cheaper employees?

If you're any example, my vote is for "smarter". Canada isn't exactly some third-world country who will let just anybody in.

Anonymous said...

HR's job is to get rid of problems for the company.

Bingo... I remember sitting down with a director (note I am a lowly Kim) who's group I worked with and spilling a tale of woe about my new lame ass manager at the time and the fact he was going to screw me over on my review. He looked at me and said you can go to HR; but know this, they are not your friend. They are not here to help you. They are here to protect the company.

So for anyone else, if you learn one thing from this blog the only time you ever talk to HR is

1. A crime has been commited.
2. Sexual harrassment.
3. Exit interview.

Otherwise you are only harming yourself.

Anonymous said...

As the executive in charge of this program, this is intended to show profit in FY08. You will see XBoX people get rewarded well this year. XBoX is on course to become profitable in FY08.

I thought they were barely on track for profit this year. With the $1bn charge to fix what many call a fundamentally broken device, I don't see how they're going to reach that mark this year.

Unless this money doesn't get charged to their group somehow? Sounds like some funny math to me.

Anonymous said...

>"If you're any example, my vote is for "smarter". Canada isn't exactly some third-world country who will let just anybody in."

Please forgive my American friend for accidentally offending our Canadian neighbors, better known as `Tasties', a.

I think what he/she was saying is that the reason for the Canadian center is to allow the thousands of existing and soon to be existing Microsoft H1B and green card employees to have a place to work that is reasonably close in time zones to Redmond which would allow Microsoft to continue to hire foreign grads and developers at a much reduced level of $ payout while eliminating the whine factor which includes a requirement for Starbucks machines, ship gifts ad-nauseum. Sort of a local version of offshoring.

Keeperplanet said...

>"we could start a Be My Guy! campaign to warm Mr. Kawasaki over to the idea. You know. Should opportunity come a knockin'."

Ah Mini, we love your enthusiasm! Oh if only it could be so. I love to link to the links in your blogs, which often sets a deeply dry humor sense of intellectual acumen. Ahh, but the readers either don't click on the links or they just don't get it, kind of stuck in an eternal `bitch mode' known as Mini Microsoft.

My comment here is that its over before it starts re the Guy K. thing. Just read Horacio Gutierrez's comments re GPL-v3.
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2155245,00.asp?kc=EWKNLBOE070607STR1

I doubt GK would allow himself to get sucked into a company with such high ethical standards as Microsoft. Your enthusiasm is interesting if not in vain as the keepers of the FYIFV buttons is also fully in control of the `software for sale' signs. When the sleepy 'path of least resistance' world is slowly waking up to the fact that an operating system really needs to be open source to avoid the pitfalls that James Gleick speaks of. The Schmitian philosophy that Microsoft is most powerful economic force in the United States in the second half of the 20th century will not carry forward to this century.

While the writing is on the wall, I am perplexed as to why Microsoft is confused about it all. Software is to be subsidized by hardware vendors and hardware is to be profitable. Not the other way around. While Xbox's day of profit keeps getting extended into infinity and the division leaders continue to delude themselves on the soma of great expectations, the relevance of the Xbox hardware platform is less and less and less. And I suppose surface computers will be next to be given away at a loss. Oh yeah. I can't wait to get mine. Reality check time indeed.

Anonymous said...

...soon to be existing Microsoft H1B and green card employees to have a place to work ...

Employees with green cards are not impacted by immigration issues - it is the people waiting on a green card either now or in the future who will benefit from this.

...continue to hire foreign grads and developers at a much reduced level of $ payout ...

There is no reasonable way for MSFT to hire foreign grads regardless of what it pays them. Many of us who have been here for a while are managers and a few are principals all the while pursuing the mirage of a US green card. And we continue to spend time in Vancouver every year renewing visas or for weeks while a name check is processed during the visa renewal.

Anonymous said...

To all the people here who think the Canada move is purely to get cheap labor -- think again. Canada's the third largest source of employees for Microsoft and Canadians will not settle for lower salaries. It's ultimately a question of talent and location. Vancouver, in repeated surveys by magazines like The Economist is viewed as the most desirable place to live in the world. Many Canadians will be more interested in Microsoft now that it's opening up shop in their most desirable city -- so will other members of the global talent pool.

And, oh, to quash this repeated meme that foreign grads are getting paid less -- trust me, we're not.. at least not those of us that are serious talent. Microsoft's competing with every major tech company, and is paying *more* if anything for global talent now. For FTEs, in any case, it's simply NOT a question of us being cheap labor. That doesn't, of course, mean we're willing to stick around for long either :)

Anonymous said...

If you're any example, my vote is for "smarter". Canada isn't exactly some third-world country who will let just anybody in.

You misunderstood my question and then resorted to a personal attack. Thank you for reminding me why I am glad I left Microsoft.

Let me try again:

Many of the best universities in the world are right here in the United States. Why is it that Microsoft can't hire the "highly skilled" employees they need here in the U.S.? Is it because American kids are skipping university and settling nicely into their service industry jobs? Is it because American kids know that technology companies like Microsoft will toss them out after 10 to 15 years (ala "Kim") and they'll be without a career so they shun technology curriculums?

Or, is the reality that Microsoft doesn't want smarter employees as they claim but rather cheaper employees that they get in the form of immigrant labor. And if they have to warehouse those immigrants in Canada -- a country with one of the most generous immigration policies in the world and one of the highest per capita admission rates -- then so be it. Microsoft apparently would be happy to put those employees here in the U.S. if they could but immigration laws don't let them so Canada works too.

Why don't farms hire Americans at $20/hour to pick crops when they can hire Mexicans at half the price or less? Stupid question, huh? Doesn't the same logic apply to "white collar" jobs as well?

What's the true story here?

Anonymous said...

"reasonably close in time zones to Redmond"

It's the same time zone. It's a about 150 miles North. Maybe that University you went to wasn't as good as you thought, huh?

Anonymous said...

So for anyone else, if you learn one thing from this blog the only time you ever talk to HR is

1. A crime has been commited.
2. Sexual harrassment.
3. Exit interview.

Actually, you should only talk to HR when #3, and if possible try to avoid it or just tell them what they want to hear . Talking to HR when #1 and #2 will get you in trouble even if you are not involved at all - Basically the rule of thumb is: stay away from HR folks, from their bulding, from their meetings and anything that has the "HR" label in it. Treat them as if they are contaminated with some dangerous virus. You don't need them for anyhting.

Anonymous said...

XBOX in the news.

I can't get the numbers to add up.

MSFT shipped 5.2 million XBOX 360's. Taking a charge of 1.15B amounts to 220 $ per each XBOX sold. This is equivalent to MSFT giving away one XBOX for every 3 it sold. Even if the machines are broken beyond repair, why does MSFT have to give every three customers a new XBOX? I don't see how this adds up.

Another problem: why does MSFT take the charge in one quarter as opposed to spreading it across multiple years? Check out the accounting rules for warranty charges under FASB (http://www.fasb.org/pdf/fas5.pdf, paragraph 1, 8, 24) and we can only infer that MSFT is very confident that in the next 3 months the equivalent of 1 in 3 users will need a new XBOX. This is equivalent to 1 in 3 XBOXes having a time bomb that kicks in the next 3 months (JUST KIDDING) But I still can't explain it.

Cheap shot: Robbie Bach sold a lot of shares weeks before the announcement. Hopefully the SEC will investigate and throw some light into the timing of these sales, and we will know more about Robbie's motivation. The sooner the better.

Well, hopefully the next quarter report will have more information about the XBOX charge. Meanwhile, can someone from the XBOX team chip in some information?

Sincerely,
a concerned MSFT investor.

Joe said...

regarding canada:

There is one very basic reason that companies move centers to Canada. Universal Health Care. This one large payroll expense is completely, and suddenly gone.

And, when you're talking about $1500/month/employee for health insurance, it adds up in a hurry.

Anonymous said...

MS Vancouver - Mini, this really should be a new thread.

Before posters go over the top with ill-informed opinions, might I suggest talking to someone who has lived in Vancouver? Of course, if they've already moved to the Puget sound offices, their bias will be pretty strong.

I have a friend who moved here from Burnaby, 10 yrs ago and I asked her about (aboot?)MS opening an office in Vancouver. OK, after she stopped laughing, I got the following comments.

1 - If the Vancouver media's speculation over the location of the new MS office is anywhere near the mark, it would hardly be possible to pick a worse location. She said it was something like White Center. Yeah. Great choice.

2 - Doing business in Canada is NOT cheaper. Think TAXES. A lot of taxes. Corporate taxes, individual taxes, and hidden taxes the raise the cost of everything. (It took her about 5 minutes to let go of that one)

3 - You think your commute is bad around here? Again, if the location is anywhere near where the Vancouver media is saying, you do NOT want to live anywhere near there, so you will have to commute. Decent housing within a 30 minute commute of that area will cost a lot more than most places in Bellevue. Mortgage interest is not deductible.

I asked her about the elevated rail system up there. She said Skytrain is loved by the dealers and thugs, and the park n ride lots are a haven for car thieves.

Sounds like fun. At least they have some good beers up there eh.

Anonymous said...

There is one very basic reason that companies move centers to Canada. Universal Health Care. This one large payroll expense is completely, and suddenly gone.

Thanks for the laugh! Ask a Canadian about 'universal' health care. Ask a Canadian about waiting lists. Ask how long it takes to get an appointment to see a physician. Then settle into a comfortable chair with a coffee because you may be there for a while.

I could tell you a few things bout the system up there. My Mom is waiting for a diagnostic MRI. She's been waiting since March, and she's scheduled for October. Good thing it's only considered 'high priority', and not urgent.

And, when you're talking about $1500/month/employee for health insurance, it adds up in a hurry.

$1500/month/employee? If an MS employee in Vancouver was paid on par with a level 60 in Redmond, he/she would pay quite a bit more than that in income tax alone. Been there done that. While the actual employees' medical premiums insurance costs are low, they're not absent. Mine was something like 50/month. Chiropractic, physio-therapy, etc are not covered fully, and there are co-pays. A good number of presecription drugs are not 'indexed' so they're not covered. Several of my father-in-law's heart drugs are not covered.

Anonymous said...

Or, is the reality that Microsoft doesn't want smarter employees as they claim but rather cheaper employees that they get in the form of immigrant labor.

The cost of living is actually quite a bit higher in Vancouver than it is in Seattle. Not to mention the fact that Canadian labor laws require the employer to provide more benefits and protections to employees. On top of that, those expenses apply to all of the support staff there too, not just the people from overseas. Oh, and let's not forget about the high tax rates too. Cheaper labor? Yeah, right.

With this level of ignorance, it's pretty obvious why foreign talent has no problem getting your jobs.

Anonymous said...

Mini - When will we get a new post from you?? A billion new things have happened since your last post - Apple's iPhone release and its stock going upto $130, XBox taking a $1 billion hit in recalls etc...

Anonymous said...

>"reasonably close in time zones to Redmond"

It's the same time zone. It's a about 150 miles North. Maybe that University you went to wasn't as good as you thought, huh?"

1x0.000000001~=0

No one is forcing MS to station in Vancouver. You could do it anywhere in Mexico or Canada and it would be easier to communicate on a daily basis H1B employees.

>"Employees with green cards are not impacted by immigration issues - it is the people waiting on a green card either now or in the future who will benefit from this."

Yes, thank you for your correction. Silly jingoist me, `waiting for green' is what I meant.

>"There is no reasonable way for MSFT to hire foreign grads regardless of what it pays them."

I guess as a seasoned and experienced manager (what, ten, fifteen, twenty five years experience?) you have never lost your job to an EIT fresh out of Cal-Tech from India or Hong Kong because they are paying them half or a third of what you make to do the same thing. But yes, I understand your point about the quotas, but there is a huge boomer population rapidly being replaced all across America.

Anonymous said...

HR's job is to get rid of problems for the company.
I'm not even sure about that...
History time: The company I worked for was bought by Microsoft. We didn't have dedicated "HR", just some of the admin girls arranging interviews, setting up contracts, handling vacation requests, etc.
So we got a dedicated HR person, who previously did HR for $bigCompanyX and $bigCompanyY. First thing he did is getting the girls who used to do his work made redundant. Then he gets himself an additional HR position at another company bought by Microsoft, and hires a bunch of HR assistants.
The one time I needed to ask him for something he immediately delegated it to one of his assistants, who completely failed to actually do it.
All of them seem to spend a suspicious amount of time out of office, and, of course, all of them got good parking spots near the entrance.
My theory is that HR is only there for people without any real skills, who hire each other into HR positions where their lack of abilities is not noticed.
(Luckily I didn't have that much to do with them up to the point where I gave them an unlabelled white envelope containing a polite resignation letter.)

Anonymous said...

>"MSFT shipped 5.2 million XBOX 360's. Taking a charge of 1.15B amounts to 220 $ per each XBOX sold."

I don't work for MS, but your numbers do add up. . . to pretty much an expected replacement(or repair) of all machines that people are still using and want repaired.

There is a design flaw in Xbox that should have generated a recall. I had a similar thing happen to my HP notebook this year. Heat kills hardware if not properly designed, and from reading around the net, Microsoft really screwed up this one.

My guess is the reason for no recall is that it is cheaper to just repair machines people want repaired and cost's less in negative blow back. Apple, HP all do the same thing, i.e., never admit to a design flaw but replace or repair any demanded.

My HP repair was 8 months past warranty and was fully repaired with no cost after I threatened to go to the analysts about the problem of HP designing faulty hardware, which in my case was true.

If this really bugs you, and you are an investor, write to the analysts or go to the shareholder's meeting and demand a change in the BOD. Two or three analysts negative prognostications can drop stock in half overnight in some cases if the call is valid and the BOD and top tier management are out of control.

Anonymous said...

With this level of ignorance, it's pretty obvious why foreign talent has no problem getting your jobs.

Instead of making vague references backed up by zero data and then tossing in smart-alec, immature comments such as this one why don't you provide some facts to back up your assertions. Or, if you don't know what you're talking about then keeping quiet is fine too.

I can hope that you don't actually work at Microsoft but I fear that you probably do.

Anonymous said...

>There is a design flaw in Xbox
>that should have generated a
>recall.

Do you have more specific information about the design flaw? If so, please do tell.

>My HP repair was 8 months past
>warranty and was fully repaired
>with no cost after I threatened
>to go to the analysts about the
>problem of HP designing faulty
>hardware, which in my case was
>true.

How much did it cost HP to service your computer? Did it cost 1/3 of the computer price? Did HP recall all of these computers at the same cost/price ratio as XBOX? Did HP take the charge in one quarter? Until these conditions are satifisied, you can't really compare the XBOX problem w/ the HP problem. That's why I am stumped - I don't know precedents for companies taking such large charges in such a short amount of time for warranties and product replacement. Charges of this nature are usually write-off's. Waranty and product replacement charges are usually:
1. a lot cheaper than 33% of retail price; and
2. spread over a number of quarters/fiscal years.

(BTW, spreading the charge over time is not an accounting gimmick, it is reflective of management's confidence on the date the expense will be booked. The less confident management is on the date that expense will be booked, the further in the future the expense will be booked.)

>If this really bugs you, and you
>are an investor, write to the
>analysts or go to the
>shareholder's meeting and demand
>a change in the BOD.

I should have signed "a concerned *individual* MSFT investor". I have some MSFT stock from the back day when I was an MSFT employee. I am trying to decide if I should still hang on to it or I should sell it. Obviously I don't have any pull with the BOD or any stock analysts.

Sincerely,
A concerned individual MSFT investor.

Anonymous said...

>"Do you have more specific information about the design flaw? If so, please do tell."

No specifics. Any engineer worth his salt would know immediately the problems associated with notebooks and tightly packaged computers are generally 99% heat related. I have been following the threads and news articles. From what I have read the problem is related to heat causing components to fail. Almost all notebooks (I am classifying the Xbox in this category because it is tightly packaged) have cooling issues and the design of air flow over the components (or in the case of the Xbox, liquid in tubes over the components) is a difficult challenge. Specific techniques are applied to determine design feasibility are critical. One of which includes significant data logging of heat distribution within the closed box and the design for removal of that heat; methods and technology applied and the nature of the components and their suceceptibility to heat.

I am not sure of the Xbox, but any closed computer enclosure needs cleaning periodically to remove dust from fans and components to keep heat build up from occuring. This is a common error in consoles because the manufacturers make it difficult or impossible for the customer to open the box and clean inside. Liquid cooling will reduce the amount of dust build up, but heat still has to be removed, dust will build up from that, and so on.

All you Xbox people don't jump on me here as these are general rules of thumb and each machine has quirks that require different maintenance, but they all require heat removal in a consistent servicable way.

>"How much did it cost HP to service your computer? Did it cost 1/3 of the computer price? . . ."

I get your point. Well made, but I suspect there is an Xbox redesigned mainboard + a few non mainboard components replacement for all units made since introduction which would approximately fit the charge amount divided by the total number of units out since introduction and it also explains why they are doing it all in one lump. I.e., they understand what the problem is, requires a new mainboard and has a fixed replacement cost--this implies without question a design flaw in either the components plus the layout of components. If you analyze the charge divided by the total number of units out there you get something like $100 per box--using the 11.6 million unit number as the divisor. Here are a couple of links to articles I have read.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19640605/site/newsweek/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19640784/

Anonymous said...

"There is one very basic reason that companies move centers to Canada. Universal Health Care. This one large payroll expense is completely, and suddenly gone.
And, when you're talking about $1500/month/employee for health insurance, it adds up in a hurry."

You obviously have not lived in Canada. Health care is not "free".
For one thing, the payroll taxes are humongus.

Personal income tax rates would make your eyes pop up. You can make 500k/year in Redmond and your max federal tax rate would be in the 33-35% range. In Canada, if you are a fat cat (for tax purposes) making more than 75k/year, after the province and the feds take their cut you'll be lucky to be left with 40%. Did I mention the 13% combined sales tax in BC (7% fed GST + 6% provincial tax)? Unless of course they changed it, and in Canada it could only be to hike it up.

As for housing, 10 Years ago (my reference frame because that's when I was living up there) a very average house in Vancouver or its suburbs costs about 350K. At that time, you probably have bought the same house in Redmond for about 200K. I haven't heard of the BC housing market collapsing, so I would not expect housing to be cheaper up there.

Let's talk car insurance--forget about gasoline: you don't want to know :-)--. The provincial gov runs it. That's right: there is only one place to get it, so no shopping around and it's about 3 times what you pay in the States.

Cost of goods: go to any bookstore, of if you're the typical Softie grab one of the tech books that sits on your office shelf. Look on the back cover: you see that "USA: $44.99, Canada: $64.99". It's fairly representative of what's awaiting you purchasing almost anything. Plus of course the 13% provincial tax mentioned above.

People who will work up there will be those who can't get a visa to the US. And with the Canadian$ almost at par with the US$ I doubt that any US manager will want to go live up there unless they get a substantial financial compensation.

Anonymous said...

And with the Canadian$ almost at par with the US$ I doubt that any US manager will want to go live up there unless they get a substantial financial compensation.

I wouldn't be so sure of this statement. Some of us managers on 7th and 8th year H1B will go :-).

Anonymous said...

I wrote:
"And with the Canadian$ almost at par with the US$ I doubt that any US manager will want to go live up there unless they get a substantial financial compensation.

And you replied:
"I wouldn't be so sure of this statement. Some of us managers on 7th and 8th year H1B will go :-)"

I understand, but you don't want to end up with an equivalent H1B status in Canada.

You're fine if you can bail back into the States if things don't work out up there; or if you can get a "landed immigrant" visa (the Canadian green card). But Canada--for electoral and political reasons mainly--has an immigration policy that favors family reunification.

In a nutshell, let's just say that unless you have direct family members who are citizen or landed immigrants and can sponsor you to Canada, you'll find that it is not easier to get a permanent immigrant visa to Canada than it is to get one to the US.

Anonymous said...


In a nutshell, let's just say that unless you have direct family members who are citizen or landed immigrants and can sponsor you to Canada, you'll find that it is not easier to get a permanent immigrant visa to Canada than it is to get one to the US.


What a bull -- if you qualify for H1-B in US, then you qualify for landed immigrant status in Canada, without any sponsors -- just show that you have 10,000 CAN$ and you get one in a year.

Six years ago, I had choice between US and Canada, but since I got job in US (thanks, Microsoft :), I decided not to pursue Canadian immigration. However, if I went to Canada, I would be Canadian citizen for last three years, and here I still wait for a green card.

Six years ago, with my BSc degree in CS and five years work experience, I was able to easily immigrate to any of developed English-speaking countries: Britain, Ireland, Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. I have friends in all these countries who emigrated at approximately same time as we did. All of them are citizens of respective countries (except South Afrika, but they have permanent residency), only I do not have permanant residency where I live :(

mikkey said...

mini I've been reading your blog for a few years (at least 2). I love it and I left msft after 14 years and contrary to any belief I did not leave with a cart of gold. I was a highly respected director with 70 directs and all I wanted to do was run away from that place screaming. Tired of bad GMs and poor peers. I drank the Koolaid and I was ready to move on....

love you mini :)

Anonymous said...

"What a bull -- if you qualify for H1-B in US, then you qualify for landed immigrant status in Canada, without any sponsors -- just show that you have 10,000 CAN$ and you get one in a year."

This is news to me, but I'll take your word for it. I have been an immigrant to both Canada and the US, so I am not talking through my hat. I have been through the grinder. This said, it doesn't make me an immigration expert and I never had H1B status.

What you describe was the situation 30 years or so ago in Canada, when a few thousand C$ and a good professional qualification could get you a visa: that's how I did it. And even then it was not easy.

Further down the road in the 80's and 90's, the only immigrants that I ever met who had come to Canada without sponsors were Hong-Kong people coming on the so-called "investor" immigrant visa during the years leading to the 1997 hand-off to China: and at the time this required a min $250K. And there were far more HK people with $250K than there were available visas.

So maybe they have changed their ways up there. It wouldn't be a bad thing.

Anonymous said...


"What a bull -- if you qualify for H1-B in US, then you qualify for landed immigrant status in Canada, without any sponsors -- just show that you have 10,000 CAN$ and you get one in a year."

This is news to me, but I'll take your word for it. I have been an immigrant to both Canada and the US, so I am not talking through my hat. I have been through the grinder. This said, it doesn't make me an immigration expert and I never had H1B status.


Here are some facts: In year 2000, I was 30 years old, married, with passing knowledge of English, BSc in CS and no money. I did self-evaluation for Canadian landed immigrant and had more than enough points to qualify. I personally know tens of people who immigrated into Canada with same situation.

Anonymous said...

you'll find that it is not easier to get a permanent immigrant visa to Canada than it is to get one to the US

There is the investor visa as well as the job based visa. A lot of long time H1B holders at Microsoft (such as myself) will qualify for both as the investment threshold for Canada is a lot lower (200-300K).

And I doubt salary issues are a concern except for entry level people/couples making less than 100/200K/year.

Anonymous said...

"Here are some facts: In year 2000, I was 30 years old, married, with passing knowledge of English, BSc in CS and no money. I did self-evaluation for Canadian landed immigrant and had more than enough points to qualify. I personally know tens of people who immigrated into Canada with same situation."

Then things have really changed for the better. Still, watch out for them taxes up there :-)