Tuesday, March 18, 2008

MS Poll 08

MS Poll 2008: what parts of the employee poll do you see as critical in communicating any changes that need to happen at Microsoft?

Act Local: first of all, usually when I review poll results, my team looks at the questions and comments directly relevant to things that we can change. So if you want change in your day-to-day group, look hard at those questions that managers who report to a VP are accountable for. I can't count the number of times that we've looked through poll spreadsheets and some of the harshest numbers might be around "Microsoft is headed in the right direction" or something, and nothing but shrugs result from those number since the reaction is usually, "What can we do about that?"

I've also been in meetings where we sit down and look at every comment, and figure out ownership and actions. Again, for things beyond our scope of impact we have to move on. But for serious comments that are relevant to the team a lot of attention is given. Strongly disagree about something? Note it and put in a fix for it in the comments later.

What I'm saying: act locally first and honestly assess your workgroup and put some effort into comments relevant to your group, probably noting the group's / VP's name specifically in the comment for any roll-up your comment goes into, should you have a senior VP (or heaven forbid, a president) that actually glances through any of this.

Next, Think Globally for the Company: then there's the broader company wide feedback.

  • Do I think we're headed in the right direction? No, not with our explosive employee growth and our highly questionable acquisition pursuit of Yahoo (oof, sorry, I just had a mental image of a smirking Kevin Johnson wearing a black top-hat + cape and stroking his long, skinny waxed mustache). And I fear with all these new people and buildings, Redmond and Bellevue are about to turn into a constant parking lot (especially when that monstrosity opens near Highway 520).
  • Our systems and processes have exploded - and I'm not just talking about the pain in the butt magical commitment tool (magical in that it can make comments *poof* disappear).
  • Our rank and yank employee calibration doesn't align with valuing contributing to other people's success, so why even ask a question about being rewarded and recognized for that? Bring in some sort of team-based recognition and rewards and this will change.
    • Follow-up: hell yes your success is assessed relative to your peers. Duh.
  • This is the first time I've pulled in and shorted the number of years I expect to continue working at Microsoft. Usually I'm all "Here till I drop!" highly enthused, but now I'm concerned about the recent business decisions and the potential for that to make Microsoft go south, let alone the long-term impacts being felt now by the accrual of so many unneeded hires. Microsoft has the unfortunate potential to change so much that it will no longer be Microsoft to me.
  • As for a message to send upwards loud an clear about what motivates people to put in the extra effort, I think I can sum it up as: stock.

The stock has to start performing well. Our executive leadership doesn't believe that the stock performance matters, especially to employees. Does Microsoft stock price matter to you? I imagine you just said, "Hell yeah it does, Mini!" Let them know. If our stock started shooting up (like it did oh so briefly) would you be more highly motivated and engaged in your job? If we hit $40? $50? If you started seeing the rewards of working at Microsoft around the stock you own and it actually being a benefit vs. a woeful joke going on over a half-a-decade, how would things change for you?

Employees have to say loud and clear, whether through the poll or other communications with leadership, that the Microsoft stock price does matter and it does make a difference. Want us to be bold? Re-invigorate the stock. Want us to take risks? Re-invigorate the stock. Want us to work above and beyond what's required of us? Re-invigorate the stock.

And do other things like have a better 401k match and bring back the old ESPP. There it is, stock again.

I encourage you to put in any positive remarks about things going well so that they don't change for the worst. And if something needs to change, it's always best to put in the positive business-based solution vs. just asking the problem being addressed. Otherwise, you might not like the solution.

I do think the poll is worth the effort, especially for provoking useful change in your group. As for a broader message, there's a potential that if key numbers radically change this year that it will be a wake up call. You might as well ring that bell.


145 comments:

Anonymous said...

I actually disagree with your arguments about "re-invigorate the stock." I hear many co-workers say this as well, and it always amazes me how many misperpections there are. Telling management to "re-invigorate the stock" doesn't make sense. The market determines our stock price, and markets are not always rational. However, telling mgmt to "increase our rate of earnings growth" *would* make sense, but I guess that's too hard for some people to remember? :)

Also, telling a company to increase their stock price during a recession is kind of silly... like spitting into the wind (you might succeed, but the odds are strongly against it).

Yes I think there are things we can do to make the stock deal better (mainly by tweaking things with how we allocate stock) but simply saying get the stock back on a strong growth path is missing the point. The way to do that is to increase our earnings growth at a faster rate than we are currently doing. The stock price is just a side effect of the fact that it's very difficult to achieve earnings growth at a company of our size and we're struggling to find the next big money maker.

One last point - if the stock started consistently increasing by 10% per year (which is a pretty reasonable target for our type of company), would you be happy then? I doubt it. The angst over the stock is really due to underlying feelings that we don't have a stake in our group's success and that there's no longer a way to be rewarded greatly if our group achieves some major success. We should think of ways to address that - but the answer isn't necessarily stock.

Anonymous said...

A great way to start the MS Poll -- receiving a email announcement early this morning that your pathetic piece of a VP got promoted.

The group i'm in can go to hell.

Anonymous said...

I've also been in meetings where we sit down and look at every comment, and figure out ownership and actions...

I came to MS via an acquisition, and I have to say that our management kept us in the dark about how things really worked once we became one with Microsoft. ("Review curve? Naaah. There's a guideline out there, but we don't use it" - actual quote from upper management). Credit your blog with educating a lot of current employees.

One thing most of us ICs came to suspect pretty quickly was that nothing was anonymous anymore. Management seemed to develop ESP for things we communicated electronically. The division heads would come around and cajole everyone into filling out the polls with such zeal that we just assumed they sat down with all the results, determined which comments were owned by whom, and what actions to take against them based if they were regurgitating the kool-aid or telling the truth about the emperor's clothes.

One big thing that being acquired by Microsoft did for us was to remove the direct connection between our hard work and our rewards. This echoes the first poster's last point. Ship a SKU or slip to the next fiscal year; gain market share or lose it; it didn't matter any more to your personal fortunes. Empire building and brown-nosing replaced the qualities that got us purchased in the first place. But I guess overall work-life balance improved a lot as almost nobody works unforced overtime anymore.

Don’t call me a whiner as I split a year ago to help achieve the goal of a slimmer Microsoft and headed to a start-up. Too bad the two new guys who took over my work are only a quarter as productive.

Anonymous said...

The first poster nailed it. Ironically, it's at this stage of the company where I think you actually want to implement stock options--struck out of the money, so that growth is awarded (or not). At the time of the option grant, to set the strike, take the current stock price and tack on some expected, reasonable growth rate through three years and add a little more in there to get the organization to really push itself.

Maybe there's a mix of stock and options. This year, maybe you get granted stock as well as some options struck at 40, 45, and 50 that expire in 2, 3, and 4 years, respectively. All numbers are purely illustrative.

It has to be done in a way so that you don't have everyone in the company taking unreasonable/unfettered risks when shooting for the moon. Food for thought...I haven't modeled it out and have ignored the accounting treatment/headache...

Anonymous said...

My skip level manager in SMSGR is a ghost, a spectre. I do not know what he does with his time (MSFT's time) or what his purpose is in the org. And aside from him saying "get it done or else..."* has no other answer to any call for reasonable direction.

I hope my feedback counts. Doubt it though.

* ...you're toast. He hasn't a clue as to what we are doing so this is his best and only way to respond as far as we can figure.

Anonymous said...

The poll is a joke. I used to answer it honestly, and I used to think that those results meant something. Then I got into an org with a joke of a VP. This person basically removed my excellent boss, then only great boss I have had in my career at MSFT. What was my bosses crime? My boss did not shield my group from the VPs missteps. Maybe, a long time ago the management of this company would take a look at the poll and sincerely attempt to fix things. Those days are way to far gone.

I still want to believe that the top management knows what they want, and has direction. I see many of my co workers trying to do the right thing. I also see a lot of suck-ups in the middle that are adding no value and staring at their navels.

Anonymous said...

I completed mspoll today, prompted by a VP mail that contained a helpful reminder of all the great things that have been put in place in response to the last poll...things that were really more for their benefit rather than ours, and mainly created yet another layer of bureaucracy that put more barriers up to the fabled "cross group collaboration" nirvana.

However my main gripe in the poll was a growing irritation that a good majority of our senior leadership appear to have no clue about what our customers can do with our technology. They would rather spout about strategy refinements, acquisitions, and one-upping their VP peers than direct their teams to work together to do anything meaningful.

I watched Ballmer's interview with Guy Kawasaki at the MIX conference, and for once I got some hope for our future...I could see the old passion returning to someone that was becoming increasingly stage-managed (I thought)...if only that sense of purpose and understanding of what it is we are meant to be doing could filter down, perhaps we could get the excitement going again in the rank and file?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reminding me Mini! My poll has been sitting in my inbox burried under several days of clutter.

I appreciate your support of the Poll. The world is not perfect but the data collected is looked at and people take action from it. You never know the free form feedback you give could drive the next big change!

Anonymous said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. When it came to the MS Poll the message from management was:

1.) You damn well better fill it out.
2.) You damn well better fill it out positively.
3.) If you don't fill it out, our group will be singled out as a problem group and there will be pain.
4.) If you don't fill it out positively, our group will be singled out as a problem group and there will be pain.

In other words, if you complain in the MS Poll the change you get will very likely be undesirable for you and your teammates.

What I want to know is which executive's brother/sister-in-law runs the company that administrates the MS Poll and is getting rich by selling Microsoft on a gigantic waste of money?

Anonymous said...

I have a question about the Yahoo mess. Who will oversee this vast empire of yahoo/live? Do they have a winning track record? If not, why will they be trusted with this?

Just some food for thought.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning the Poll, Mini!

It did not occur to me until reading the posts here, but there have been no poll reminders this year in my group. Normally they harass you this time of year, but I suspect the three re-orgs we have gone through since October has them hoping you will forget about the poll.

The re-org in E&D last October was the most poorly executed re-org I have been through at Microsoft, and I have been through a lot. Since the re-org there has been an unusually high amount of attrition. We have lost multiple GPMs, test manager and our PUM. There is no one in the entire test org above level 62. The leads are not even allowed to speak with the current GM, which they directly report too until a PUM and test manager can be hired. They created a “virtual” leads team to discuss issues and then someone is supposed to bubble it up. Sadly Dave is too busy to even speak with them.

Generally I have been pretty neutral on the poll. I rarely fill in the comments fields. This year was much different. Of course I have low expectations that anything will occur. For the last 3-4 years, we take the poll, they show us the results and express their concern about the negative results and vow to make changes. We usually don’t hear anything until the following year’s poll results come out.

I expressed my concerns about Yahoo. I will most likey leave the company if the Yahoo merger goes through.

I often contemplate I/O'ing Ballmer a copy of Moby Dick with a picture of Google inside. He is going to run this company into the ground. Frankly, I think it is time that the current board gets replaced, along with Ballmer.

Anonymous said...

"I do think the poll is worth the effort, especially for provoking useful change in your group. As for a broader message, there's a potential that if key numbers radically change this year that it will be a wake up call. You might as well ring that bell."

Mini, this is one of the few areas where I think you have blinders on. If Lisa is able to spin our dramatic slip in the "best places to work" survey into just so much random background noise, and if previous years the response to low poll areas has been no concrete action, what on earth makes you think anyone will do anything at a corporate level with this year's poll?

Also, I'd be interested in what you think some possible actions might be -- examples of what you think *could* happen based on poll feedback?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of tools proliferating.
I am in MCS and we have a pretty neat tool called RoleGuide (just tack http:// to it and see it). It is essentially a skills repository, and a pretty extensive one at that.

We're supposed to update it after every big project or quarterly, whichever comes first. The stated goal is to help you manage your skills and help managers place you on good projects.

It's been around for a couple of years. In that time it has somewhat helped me with training but never helped place me on any good gigs.

Couple of weeks ago, I got an email from my manager asking me and my peers to put our primary/secondary/tertiary skills into attached spreadsheet.

When I asked why did I spend an all this time putting my skills into RoleGuide, the answer was that higher-ups find that (and I paraphrase) "there are too many skills entries in RoleGuide. It takes too long to extract them. This will go into sharepoint site somewhere and be easy to search.

I happened to cc my peers and got quite a few chuckles from colleagues, including one funny reference to Greek myth of Sisyphus...

Anonymous said...

Mini Mini Mini - you supposed to have your finger on the pulse and what do you choose.......THE ( effing) POLL, a not very revered Microsoft institution? The Poll is a tool - smart users use it wisely to course correct before disaster strikes and bad managers usually and eventually get fragged by their teams when they ignore the Poll...so what is new? The real MS news right now is the continuing leadership turnover in the Online Services Business ( it's getting to be like the temple beheading scene in Mel Gibson's movie, "Apocalypto")- Two VPs go down in one year before Steve Berkowitz is hired two years ago as the head honcho ..and then last month he is gone and now Joanne Bradford is hired away to a "new opportunity" this week.
Joanne was head of US Ad Sales from 2001-2006 and was not only a big revenue producer but widely recognised by both the internal troops and the market as an exceptional and charismatic sales person, business leader,and woman ( and she was a Chairman's Award Winner also). This is a big loss and worth taking a look at....and, guess what, it happened in the same division that produces your Black Top Hat and Waxed Mustache fantasy.Seems like the software execs and the online execs can't work together toward a common vision and now we're about to drop $46B for a failing Portal? There's a big story here.....so how about a column on this situation?
I think I smell fish?

Anonymous said...

The market determines our stock price, and markets are not always rational. However, telling mgmt to "increase our rate of earnings growth" *would* make sense

You missed your own point a bit. The market is rarely rational so it doesn't really matter if our earnings increase. The stock price COULD be reinvigorated if Ballmer was replaced with somebody competent. Seriously, every time that guy interacts with the public, it's all rah-rah drivel and you get the feeling that he can barely remember what his own company makes and sells. If Steve Jobs announced that he would run Microsoft for a year as part of some kind of charity work, the stock price would double instantly.

Anonymous said...

Last year our PUM was wrecking our group, and the poll results showed it. Our fast-talking PUM convinced his management that this was a result of transient events outside the org, and a few months later we were actually asked to repeat the poll. By this time things were even worse and and the PUM had been publicly taking his frustrations out on his directs, so the 2nd time he really got slaughtered. He lost his team (it went to his GPM) and soon after left MSFT.

Viva the poll!

Anonymous said...

If you meet Ballmer in a small group (like those level 65+ brownbags that happen from time to time), he's funny, informed, smart and humble. I don't know why the public Ballmer always seems so clueless. It's really frustrating.

Anonymous said...

What about using mspoll to suggest Kevin Turner as CEO? He shares the same haircut as Ballmer...and more recently a rather attractive goatee.

On a more serious note, on the interactions I have had with him, he has proven to be very deep with our business already, and certainly a lot more astute when dealing with analysts.

Anonymous said...

God forbid Turner becomes the CEO. You'll be working for a minimum wage without health benefits then, and everything that can be offshored - will be.

Anonymous said...

Are there any other orgs out there that schedule multiple morale events within a few days of the MS Poll start?

Anonymous said...

Mini;

Noting your safe zone of talking about relatively benign subjects like `MS Poll 08' I also recognize your blog as one designed to serve the internal needs of Microsoft employees and I also recognize that when an outsider suggests makes criticisms, you might just say create your own blog address.

But the truth is yours is the one that people see, and with that I would like to offer the suggestion that in this critical time of a definite recession just starting, gasoline costs at $4.50/gallon on the coasts, the massive levels of confusion and lack of focus in the IT industries, the new statistics of Apple garnering a 14% Mac market share (albeit probably because of being able to use a Microsoft OS on that hardware).

It seems clear to me that the Tech fields containing all Microsoft markets, software, hardware, ad-businesses, entertainment and other market segments, are ALL set to see a major reduction in general public and corporate sector interest and willingness to spend money there. I personally believe that either there is a powerful reduction of money to spend in these markets and or your customers are quite frankly, bored to tears with what is currently available. Either way, topics along those lines (and there are dozens) have far more importance and seriousness than any time and energy spent on subjects like MS Poll.

I would not want to tell you what you should write about, but I do suggest that the seriousness of the current world tech markets in the IT areas is something far more important to talk about.

Publish this or not, as it is really meant as a suggestion to you anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Sorry about the unrelated question - I'm an MSFT employee in a European sub looking to relocate to the US. I currently make €120k gross (basic + car allowance + bonus, excluding stock awards) at
L61 - the feedback I get here is to expect a two-level jump on move to the US. Could anyone here give some idea on what numbers I could expect/negotiate?

Anonymous said...

Commenting here is like commenting on the MS Poll; you feel good for a few moments, but nuthin' ever happens.

Anonymous said...

European L61 - shoot for american L64/L65 for salary equivalence; anything below isn't worth much anymore.

Anonymous said...

Your org has morale events? Lucky you.

Anonymous said...

It's odd Mini - I always pegged you as being in devdiv or somewhere in Bob Muglias org.

I sit here is COSD where things are distinctly not fun & I want to go to that group. Is that a good idea? Or is Mini in existance because of that?

Anonymous said...

...I currently make €120k gross (basic + car allowance + bonus, excluding stock awards) at
L61...


Are you freakin kidding me? That is like a $185K US dollars... At a L61? I'm at that level an I don't make anything close to that; even with my bonus.

Anonymous said...

What group should I go to?

I am L63 dev in WEX and tired of the bureaucracy and process. Main factors are interesting work and career growth.

Anonymous said...

God forbid Turner becomes the CEO. You'll be working for a minimum wage without health benefits then, and everything that can be offshored - will be.

But the scorecard will trun from yellow tor green !!!!

Anonymous said...

I've seen that the poll are almost magical to get rid of your lower performing managers up to GM level. You can't say it doesn't have effect although I don't think it changes any thing beyond that level. I've never heard a VP getting hurt by poll. Certainly won't change Ballmer's mind.

One of my peer told me that historically 3rd CEOs are the ones who take the company down so he thinks Gates is gone but Ballmer won't be the one to take MS down as he is only a 2nd CEO. But if our next CEO turns out to be Ballmer's current favorite despite the worse performance ever as a president - Kevin Johnson - then I believe my peer would be dead right. I'm hearing a lot that he is the real "mastermind" behind Yahoo deal, not Ballmer.

BTW, our GM is desperate to get good score in this poll. I guess somehow he is paranoid that he would get killed this time so he called out a huge moral event right at the time we got poll emails and then he called out another unscheduled party with free beer and XBOX! Then he sent out a big long email of how great we were doing. This is the kind of brainwashing that politicians used to do to skew the public mindset right at the time of elections that why we have laws for silent period before election day. Funny thing is that my manager is comparatively new and she told us that getting a good score in MS POLL should be our commitment too, not just her :). If our group gets bad scores then its because *we* did not reacted and told her what to do! Go figure that.

If LisaB or her associates are reading this - PLEASE MAKE A LAW TO DISALLOW MORAL EVENTS RIGHT AT THE POLL. And no emails reminding how great each manager is doing too, please. If they do so then they should also mention what they screwed up in those emails.

Mini, some recent events in my group really opened up my eyes how our headcount is increasing. When managers are asked if they need headcount at year start then more often then not they always say yes and give forecast for roughly 30% more heads then they *actually* think they need. This whole thing boils down at forcing them to do forecast at the year start and virtually locking them out if they say "no, thanks". No manager wants to take chance of having less resources and then missing milestones. And to a huge unfortunate of Microsoft, all of them think more hands doesn't hurt.

At another instance we were supposed to advice our partnering group about their resource requirements and my manager went out and have them 3X number for headcount than nessesory. I argued heavily with her just to get a cold reply "it doesn't hurt us. It's their money *smirk*. Why should we take our chance with lower estimate? Always under promise over deliver!".

Mini, because you are at level you are may be you can throw some observations and actionable policy changes in hiring policies like above.

Also did you noticed most recent hires these days start at 63? It used to take years of hard work and promotions to get there. In one of the 1:1 I was told that our GM wants our team statistics to be "mature" so there is a big to push to hire only 63+. And we *have* to give out these levels if we want to hire anyone at all! I'm sure most people who worked hard 5+ years to get these levels are getting pissed off. Tip: If you leave MS and return back in a year you are more likely a level(s) bump then a year of hard work and ass licking of your managers.

Hell, I don't see myself here in next 2-3 years unless I find job in *that* cool team which is advertising as simulating "startup" inside Microsoft. I'm not sure if big G should next destination but I most certainly see MS will have negligible tech/geek value/impact in next 5 years just because of size alone. Every joe I knew externally has already been hired at MS so its not a privilege to be a MS employee anyway. Infect I'd recent two experiences and really humiliating hard time to explain what the f**k we did with Vista when you disclose that you are MS employee. Looking at our other products so disconnected from consumers (except ones from devdiv) and live.com I can only anticipate more explaining to do in coming years.

Anonymous said...

@ European relocator:

Depends on where in the US you're going and in which career track. For Redmond SDE, US$120K gross (not incl. bonus) is above/near/below the midpoint for L62/63/64, so a 1-2 level bump would be approx. equivalent.

However, keep in mind that US taxes are much lower, so your net pay will be a higher percentage of gross.

Anonymous said...

When managers are asked if they need headcount at year start then more often then not they always say yes and give forecast for roughly 30% more heads then they *actually* think they need. This whole thing boils down at forcing them to do forecast at the year start and virtually locking them out if they say "no, thanks". No manager wants to take chance of having less resources and then missing milestones. And to a huge unfortunate of Microsoft, all of them think more hands doesn't hurt.

The main reason this happens is because the bigger the teams, the more ammo managers have for their promotions: "Hey, I am managing 8+ people directly. I think I should be level 65..." etc.

Anonymous said...

Euro vs Dollar salaries:

I went back two years ago. In retrospect, I picked a lucky time - the dollar was still high and I was able to negoiate a good salary. In essence, it's the nineties in reverse - you get much better pay and much lower cost of living in Europe these days. All of my friends who originally moved from Spain to Redmond are now coming back :)

Taxes are higher here, but cost of living is much much lower (just bought my second house - 180k Euro for a rental unit with thre apartments).

Anonymous said...

Ok, you all convinced me; I don’t want to work for Microsoft now.

Anonymous said...

L61 in EMEA field normally = L64 in corp. It's fairly rare to get a level bump when relocating to corp, but if you can move into a L65 role as you relocate then you make life easier in the future; going from 65-65 is harder than 65-66.

If the hiring manager is influential and really needs your skills/experience then you can probably swing the level rise.

This will one day all get simplified as levels are phased out in place of IC stages, the latter being theoretically evened out globally. But it will take years to calibrate everything.

Anonymous said...

I don't know that anything us lower level folks can do to significantly affect the stock. Oh sure, we can be efficient, productive, brave, courteous, honest, reverant, & kind. But that isn't enough, is it?

Besides that is the job of the BOD and CEO, etc. not us L62 peons slaving away in someone's nascent empire.

On the poll, I too got the email - look at all we did in response to last year's poll - but aside form more xgroup collab stuff and lots of meetings and initiatives, nothing's really changed: same indecisive VP, same xgroup nonsense, same business models that have been flailing for years, same high-level folks who continue to be promoted when their results are lacking and their politics are questionable.

I just don't believe that it makes a difference to be honest in the poll. Well, OK, yes it does. Since I don't believe that the poll is really anonymous (just like that inside blog), being honest may be my best bet for getting canned or at least kicked a few more times.

Please, mother Microsoft, may I have another.

Anonymous said...

Also did you noticed most recent hires these days start at 63?

Good gravy, what group do you work in? I agree that there has been level inflation across the board. But "most recent hires" I would say come in at 60 or 61, rather than in the 50's as they used to. Unless you're hiring someone who is making a career change and you will need to train them to bring them up to speed in their new area (e.g. PM to Test or something).

Anonymous said...

I read this blog from time to time and I'm amazed at how many haters and complainers there are with no constructive criticism. Mini, do you have any idea how many of the comments are really from current Microsoft employees? That might be an interesting topic in itself.

Anonymous said...

>If our stock started shooting up (like it did oh so briefly) would you be more highly motivated and engaged in your job? If we hit $40? $50?

No. If I were just after money, why the hell would I be at Microsoft? There's plenty of places where I could be raking in more bucks.

I'm here to build kick-ass products. That's why the current Microsoft disgusts me.

Anonymous said...

I'm an MSFT employee in a European sub looking to relocate to the US.

You're not moving into that (ex)Jawad org, are ya?. If you're, then gooood luck!

Anonymous said...

I have been manager at Microsoft for several years. In each of the teams that I have been, the management team takes time to interpret the results of the surveys and try to find solutions.

However, it has always been extremely difficult to deal with the huge bureaucracy that have to be addressed in order to make any change (minor or major). There are statistics and curves for almosr every thing (and frequenly those curves must be respected regarless of how much sense make; good sense is rarely respected when a statistic or curve is the counterpart). Additionally, the level of empowerment of manegers in many fields is very limited; to grant something as simple and cheap as a fair allowance to a team of employees, you have to convince your own manager, the controller and about three levels of HR managers before getting to the GM and check if he also aproves. If some one within that rack of persons does not agree, , then the case falls ... It does not matter if the allowance barelly cost 30 dollars per month (US$360 per year)

We have too much bureaucracy that prevents us from responding quickly, clearly and effectively to our employees and our customers.

Anonymous said...

>> I'm here to build kick-ass products.
>> That's why the current Microsoft disgusts me.

Dude, you're contradicting yourself. You're here to build kick ass products and you're disgusted because this is no longer happening. Then why are you here again?

I'll tell you why you're really here. You're here because it seems to you that no one else out there is doing anything significant, and even if they do, you lack the qualifications (or balls) to go there. You hope that one day you will either get rich here (not happenin') or switch to one of the "cool" teams internally (chances of which are remote because you again will lack qualifications/balls). In addition to that, you probably have a mortgage to pay and kids to care for, which further ties you down. Deep down inside you hate your current job, and you spend 70% of your time at work browsing the web, sitting in all kinds of meetings and dicking around (you catch up on your work items at night from home). Switching jobs is painful, however, because you can't do it without telling your manager, and if things don't work out you're fucked come review time. So you just sit there, vegetating and receiving a paycheck.

Anonymous said...

I want to be rewarded for my team's success. A new financial system should be incorporated in the company. Consider it like a franchise company. Each franchise pays a tax to Microsoft Corporate in order to franchise under their name, but profits wrought by the franchise are left in the franchise and not communistically spread across the company.

In theory, Franchises are established under each junior VP. Senior VPs manage multiple franchises.

If a VP makes enough money through the franchises s/he can create a new franchise and fund it with hiser profits earned through the tax system. I don't think it is fair that Office and Windows funds the whole company especially when they are working as hard as they can to realize the profits.

Whatever the case if my product is successful because I am putting in hours of overtime, working until I am sick, and my wife is ready to leave me, I should be rewarded with a share of the profits my product acquires. I am tired of seeing a lousy 4% merit increase when my product turns 1Bil a year with 400 employees working on it. Hell I'd be real happy with a bonus of a couple $100Ks.

Anonymous said...

> Ok, you all convinced me; I don’t want to work for Microsoft now.

And here I am talking with a recruiter for a Test position in Live wondering if I should continue with my existing lil' consulting company,
or jump onto the mothership.

I see channel 9 and other places and everyone's happy there with lots of interesting work.
And here MS has more politics than most of the other corps I've worked for.

Vikas Agarwal said...

Why I will bet on Google over Microsoft

In past few years, for Microsoft, Google has graduated from a minor irritation to a redoubtable competition that is threatening their very relevance. Now Microsoft is baying for Google's blood. They want to take the fight to Google's footstep and they believe that Yahoo! will be their Achilles.
Continue reading at
http://financesummary.blogspot.com/2008/03/why-i-will-bet-on-google-over-microsoft.html

Anonymous said...

Hi,

This is the European relocator again :-) Thanks again for all your responses, it helps! €120k in my European sub looks great on paper but when you factor in taxes & health insurance not so special anymore. I believe €120k in Europe is somewhere near $140k in the US in terms of PPP, would that be a fair estimate?

If I make around $140 gross incl. bonus, what would I net approximately per month? (Family of 3, 1 kid)

Thanks again for your responses!

Anonymous said...

I used to work in Microsoft India SMSG. In the past week, 10% of BMO quit. We've had people in EPG bail out in a hurry because the management does not care and is totally intellectually corrupt. Hiring is the exclusive domain of the GM who calls her cronies from HP to rape the company culture. I am done with MS India. DPE has a leader who is not a leader.

When people talk about MS Poll and how OHI has improved they forget that the the problem is that 50% of the hires in India are about a year old and they're still drinking the kool ade. To them, the mere act of joining Microsoft is something to be proud of. They're still giddy with delight at getting the MS offer letter because for years they have been shat upon by the Indian SIs they come from during their tenure there.

We've got a CVP who is preoccupied with seeing his face in the newspaper and magazines. To him, success is the number of publication impressions and not the well being of the employees.

Stock price?? It's important, but with grade levels sucking in India, the grants are miniscule. Unless of course you are a partner or VP in which case you are laughing all the way to the bank while the employees drive revenue and sweat in the mines.

This is the Microsoft India I left. I'm glad I am no longer part of it.

Anonymous said...

But "most recent hires" I would say come in at 60 or 61, rather than in the 50's as they used to.


This is a really depressing point for me. I started out when the stock was high (my shares/options are a joke), level 56, and worked my butt off to get above 60. I meeting new guys coming in now who are clueless and starting at the same level. Whatever happened to "proving your worth?"

Anonymous said...

"...I currently make €120k gross (basic + car allowance + bonus, excluding stock awards) at
L61...

...Are you freakin kidding me? That is like a $185K US dollars..."


I'm L61 in complete agreement with the US poster's response to this. Add in the 6 weeks or so of vacation you get in EU (we get 3 in US) and I think you'll be sacrificing a lot to move to MSFT US. If you want my job in US tho, I'll trade ya.

Anonymous said...

Don't move to the US from Europe or any other country unless you are doing it to get international exposure. Money is NOT the reason.

Redmond is big, lumbering and internal focused. YOu'll get your work life balance, but that is about it.

Anonymous said...

To EURO thinking of moving to US: consider house price/salary multiplier - even though the US is going through a housing slump a house for a family your size, near campus, is going to be 4-5 years salary.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the case if my product is successful because I am putting in hours of overtime, working until I am sick, and my wife is ready to leave me, I should be rewarded with a share of the profits my product acquires. I am tired of seeing a lousy 4% merit increase when my product turns 1Bil a year with 400 employees working on it. Hell I'd be real happy with a bonus of a couple $100Ks.

Here's your test - pass the test and you qualify for the $100s of K.

Can you leave Microsoft and create the $1B (or $100M, or $10M) business, or are you a cog in someone else's machine?

If you answer yes, then go collect your money - inside or outside of Microsoft, it doesn't matter, you can be successful in either location and earn the dough.

If you answer no, then you're worth nothing more than you currently earn, whether inside or outside.

And to the other poster above talking about how merry the Channel 9 crew are vs. this place. Well, ja, of course. This is where people come to bitch about Microsoft. Anyone who makes a decision to join or leave based on this blog doesn't belong at MSFT anyhow :)

Anonymous said...

The poll was good for one thing... the free espresso cart showed up today.

Some Guy said...

Microsoft has hit market saturation, and is no longer a growth stock. There's nothing wrong with that, but once a company hits a certain point in its development, it's time for it to become a dividend stock.

Ballmer's wasting shareholder money that should be paid out to the company's owners.

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you why you're really here.

Not accrate in the least.

Nice rant though; it does describe quite a few people I know.

Anonymous said...

Here's your test - pass the test and you qualify for the $100s of K.

I'm not the original poster, but I had to reply to this.

Can you name any CVPs who have created 100M dollar businesses within MS? 10M dollar? Any partners? DEs? Didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft has hit market saturation, and is no longer a growth stock. There's nothing wrong with that, but once a company hits a certain point in its development, it's time for it to become a dividend stock.

Ballmer's wasting shareholder money that should be paid out to the company's owners.


I wonder when this happened. At some point in time someone decided that MS was no longer a growth stock and everyone seemingly agreed. And yet we have Google, Facebook, Apple... the list goes on. But MS is no longer a growth company.

I disagree.

My suggestion to shareholders is to stop looking for stock dividends and start demanding stock growth. Revolt: fire the board; fire Ballmer; bring back stock options; get rid of underwhelming business units. You'll be very happy with the result.

Anonymous said...

Here's your test - pass the test and you qualify for the $100s of K.

Can you leave Microsoft and create the $1B (or $100M, or $10M) business, or are you a cog in someone else's machine?

If you answer yes, then go collect your money - inside or outside of Microsoft, it doesn't matter, you can be successful in either


Ah, yes, the old "if you're so good, go prove it by starting a successful company" argument. Very persuasive.

But you fail the management test, Bucko.

If someone is good enough to do that, Microsoft doesn't want to lose them. But, since the company won't reward people with those skills, they do leave.

But, you've been conditioned to be condescending to people who express a desire to be well compensated, a conditioning all too pathetically common in Redmond. You're so busy flipping the bozo bit on this guy that you don't even hear what he's saying.

He said that the hours and sacrifices necessary to keep a $1B a year business afloat isn't worth the COLA raise he's getting. He's saying MSFT isn't paying him enough for what he does. In MSPoll-speak, he's saying the "deal" isn't good. And note he's not just saying "pay me more," he's saying "pay me based on the success of my product."

People that were willing to take that deal made MSFT a money-making machine. The company doesn't offer that deal any longer. Too bad.

Anonymous said...

This is a really depressing point for me. I started out when the stock was high (my shares/options are a joke), level 56, and worked my butt off to get above 60. I meeting new guys coming in now who are clueless and starting at the same level. Whatever happened to "proving your worth?"

The world and job market moved-on, that's what happened.

When we could get away with hiring people for a pittance we did, but now we can't and we don't. The last thing you want to do is grouse about how those new kids have it so much better than you did back in the day -- it makes you seem entitled and incapable of handling your own career.

People are, simply, way too focused about the world inside. Take some of the energy you put into griping and put it into polishing your resume and going to a different company.

Anonymous said...

MS products will ship the way it is, whether you like it or not, whether customers/partners like it or not. What an individual employee does, will not matter. What one employee does, another employee may do differently. But fundamentally, products will ship. So if like your job/environment...great...if not, live with it if you don't have any option. If you find a better one, leave. Simple.

Anonymous said...


Can you name any CVPs who have created 100M dollar businesses within MS? 10M dollar? Any partners? DEs? Didn't think so.


Actualy, yeah. J Allard & xbox (you didn't say profit...). What about Jeff Teper/Sharepoint? Hell, even Joe Belfiore & Media Center stands up to this criteria.

Anonymous said...

Vista gets even worse?

http://seekingalpha.com/article/69867-microsoft-succeeds-in-making-vista-even-worse

Anonymous said...

Filled out the Poll today. The 'You have been randomly selected to answer additional questions' thing was a bit disconcerning - but loved the level and tone of the extras.

Poll is like a lottery ticket. My tiny 'investment' can sit in my shelf until I get letdown in May.

In the meantime please cease bringing reality into my life - a guy could begin questioning his purpose.

Thanks for your thoughfulness.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the case if my product is successful because I am putting in hours of overtime, working until I am sick, and my wife is ready to leave me, I should be rewarded with a share of the profits my product acquires.

You arguably should be, but you aren't, so your work habits make you kind of an idiot. Sorry to break the bad news.

Anonymous said...

I propose a new poll question:

I am getting a good deal on Rice Krispy Treats in the cafe.

Strongly Disagree! $1.10? Guess I have to make them myself...

Anonymous said...

Can you name any CVPs who have created 100M dollar businesses within MS? 10M dollar? Any partners? DEs? Didn't think so.


Actualy, yeah. J Allard & xbox (you didn't say profit...). What about Jeff Teper/Sharepoint? Hell, even Joe Belfiore & Media Center stands up to this criteria.


Um, spending billions to make millions hardly qualifies as "building a business." Anyone can do that. Hell, give me $5BN and I can guarantee that I'll make you $100M in the first year.

Anonymous said...

"Whatever the case if my product is successful because I am putting in hours of overtime, working until I am sick, and my wife is ready to leave me, I should be rewarded with a share of the profits my product acquires."

You arguably should be, but you aren't, so your work habits make you kind of an idiot. Sorry to break the bad news.


You said it. There was a poster a while back whose comments resonated with me. A situation such as the above should happen only once per person within a particular team at Microsoft, or if the person is especially careful about such things, only once ever at the company.

An employee who receives monetary feedback that their extra efforts are valued at approximately minimum wage is in most cases a fool to trade those hours of their life for minimum wage. Sure, there are those who might hit the partner lottery with such efforts, but (1) can you honestly keep it up long enough to make it there or will you burn out before then, and (2) every high school basketball player has dreams of the NBA, too.

My teammates and I aren't letting it happen again. We've had informal "conversations" among ourselves about what working hours should look like on this team, and there hasn't been a 100-hour, 90-hour or even 80-hour (though there probably have been more than a few 70's, it's still down from where it was before, when 70's and 80's were the norm) work week pulled since then, no matter what the management complaints. Our results: our team was allocated additional headcount! OP, I encourage you to do likewise. The hit on your review between exceeds and achieves isn't as great as you think it might be, to justify damaging the rest of your life. Really. That may suck (I certainly think it does), but it's reality, so work within it.

Anonymous said...

Usually I'm all "Here till I drop!" highly enthused, but now I'm concerned about the recent business decisions and the potential for that to make Microsoft go south, let alone the long-term impacts being felt now by the accrual of so many unneeded hires. Microsoft has the unfortunate potential to change so much that it will no longer be Microsoft to me.

Like any relationship, things will change over time. And if too many things change, and not necessarily for the better, then what you once loved no longer exists. I imagine this is why many people long for the "good old days" when a company is starting up, when it is smaller and has much greater energy and potential. But your statement "it will no longer be Microsoft to me" is the key idea -- if Microsoft is no longer the company you once knew, and there seems to be little chance that it will return, then perhaps it is time to alter your own course.

Anonymous said...

>>Vista gets even worse?

Ahhhh, it's refreshing to see betting on those "giant throbbing brain(s)" that were "top in their graduating classes at highly rated programs" and "brilliant" is paying off in spades for the company. [snicker, snicker]

Anonymous said...

If you meet Ballmer in a small group (like those level 65+ brownbags that happen from time to time), he's funny, informed, smart and humble. I don't know why the public Ballmer always seems so clueless. It's really frustrating.

You want to know what's frustrating? Reading the above. I find it fascinating that you determine your CEO's cluefulness based on his interaction within a L65+ brownbag. He's the freakin' CEO of Msft for God's sake. Were you under the impression he was going to come across as clueless?

I noticed that many posts seem to miss Mini's point about stock being a motivator. Msft leadership have made very conscious decisions which directly impact the stock price today. Our price is not reflective of our earnings growth. It is reflective of decisions like how we choose to acquire yhoo. For example, our stock will not budge one single dollar above $30/share until this whole yhoo acquisition issue is resolved. Why? Well, one reason is because we chose to acquire them using 50% stock (~.95/share). The higher the stock goes the more we pay so it's not going anywhere right now and our leadership is well aware of that fact. Is anyone wondering why we're willing to drag this thing out for many months to come??? Meanwhile, we're bleeding talent right and left and thousands and thousands of unexpired options are now going away which is a primary goal of our leadership. Our leadership will do everything they can to make decisions that keep our stock flat for another 3 years unless people really start complaining.

People need to understand that individuals like Ballmer are not interested in increasing shareholder value. They are making selfish decisions to support their legacy in this industry. You guys need to speak up or just shut up and get out of this damn company.

I recently decided to leave the company myself and experienced a subsequent $30k/year increase in compensation. :-) I'd love to see my options do something positive over the next 60 days but I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

Are there any other orgs out there that schedule multiple morale events within a few days of the MS Poll start?
Our mini-group was offered the princely prize of FREE PIZZA if our participation rate exceeded 85%. Not kidding

Anonymous said...

The hit on your review between exceeds and achieves isn't as great as you think it might be, to justify damaging the rest of your life.

I second that. Until you get to L63 or higher, your compensation varies by a very small amount between exceeds vs. achieves. 40 - 50 hours a week should be good for achieved for most smart, efficient people. 70 - 80 hours / wk of productive, impactful work should be good enough to show noticeably more and easily get you an exceeded.

On avg. let's say that's 30 hours more work per week. If you worked the same hours at min. wage (say $7.50) at a Burger King or something, you would stand to make $11700. Does the difference between achieved vs exceeded get you more than that? Hope that gives you a new perspective on how to set priorities.

Now let's say you spend those same 30 hours per week working on say some entrepreneurial pursuit. If you happen to strike upon something good, imagine the possibilities.

Or you could give those hours to some unappreciative bozo for two bits and a kibble more. Your choice.

Anonymous said...

thousands and thousands of unexpired options are now going away which is a primary goal of our leadership. Our leadership will do everything they can to make decisions that keep our stock flat for another 3 years unless people really start complaining.

Great insight. This is the best explanation I've heard so far for why Ballmer inserts his foot in his mouth every time the stock price goes above 30.

Anonymous said...

"thousands and thousands of unexpired options are now going away which is a primary goal of our leadership. Our leadership will do everything they can to make decisions that keep our stock flat for another 3 years unless people really start complaining."

Great insight. This is the best explanation I've heard so far for why Ballmer inserts his foot in his mouth every time the stock price goes above 30.
"

Please explain the math behind this silly assrtion: how much financial upside, exactly, does Microsoft get if it keeps all remaining outstanding employee stock options under water until they expire?

Steve and Bill and the other execs hold mad amounts of stock -- you're saying, of course, that they're happy to forego adding to their own considerable fortunes in order to prevent employee options from becoming profitable...

I really would like the see the math and reasoning here in more detail, because at the moment it sounds like the most bonehead, asinine and naive theory I've heard in quite some time.

Anonymous said...

We've had informal "conversations" among ourselves about what working hours should look like on this team, and there hasn't been a 100-hour, 90-hour or even 80-hour (though there probably have been more than a few 70's, it's still down from where it was before, when 70's and 80's were the norm) work week pulled since then, no matter what the management complaints. Our results: our team was allocated additional headcount!

No one should be working more than 40 hours unless they want to because that is not a sustainable way to build a team. Adding headcount not only means you gain flexibility via a bigger pool of Exceeds/20%, but also your business isn't threatened because one or two key people decide to leave.

Anonymous said...

Now let's say you spend those same 30 hours per week working on say some entrepreneurial pursuit. If you happen to strike upon something good, imagine the possibilities.

You've touched on exactly my thinking there. 70 hour weeks of plodding through the Windows bureaucracy left me too exhausted to flex my usual entrepreneurial muscle and creativity. Down to 50 hour weeks now and already have projects under development outside of MSFT. Sell one for even a mediocre amount of dough and that makes up for 5 or more years of achieves instead of exceeds. An added bonus that money can't buy: I WILL HAVE HAD MORE FUN DOING IT than I had on any of my "exceeds" years.

Anonymous said...

"Now let's say you spend those same 30 hours per week working on say some entrepreneurial pursuit. If you happen to strike upon something good, imagine the possibilities.

Or you could give those hours to some unappreciative bozo for two bits and a kibble more. Your choice."


Sheesh. You could also volunteer that time and stop worrying about yourself constantly. You could better develop your relationships. You could stroke up a useful new hobby. You could sit and obsess about making more money.

Le'me guess which one you like...

Anonymous said...

efficient people. 70 - 80 hours / wk of productive, impactful work should be good enough to show noticeably more and easily get you an exceeded

You gotta be more efficient. You Should be able to work less than 50 hours and get Exceeds. If you have to work 70 hours to get it, then you are pretty much maxed out..

Alyosha` said...

> People need to understand that individuals like Ballmer are not interested in increasing shareholder value.

Since Ballmer is a major shareholder himself, holding the price down would be cutting off his nose to spite his face.

It's akin to turning down a 10k raise because you would have to pay 3k taxes on it.

Anonymous said...

Now let's say you spend those same 30 hours per week working on say some entrepreneurial pursuit. If you happen to strike upon something good, imagine the possibilities.

Read your employment agreement before counting the extra money from your "entrepreneurial pursuit."

Anonymous said...

Can you name any CVPs who have created 100M dollar businesses within MS? 10M dollar? Any partners? DEs? Didn't think so.


Actualy, yeah. J Allard & xbox (you didn't say profit...). What about Jeff Teper/Sharepoint?


Eh???? Jeff Teper??? Sharepoint was a spin off of that Front Page product (R.I.P.), both of which existed YEARS prior to Jeff Teper even joining Office! Don't give credit for those products to Teper! Ick, you might as well give credit to Mr "Fumble the ball" himself, Reed Koch!

Anonymous said...

No one should be working more than 40 hours unless they want to because that is not a sustainable way to build a team.

And the choir sayeth, amen, brother.

But, that's not the way most managers at MSFT think, and as long as it works for them, they're not going to change.

How about a manager who takes team members' refusal to do constant 70 hour weeks out on them, having team members either spend an uncomfortable 60 minutes a day during an 8 hour work day explaining to 5 different people why things aren't done (by the way, this further erodes the number of tasks you can complete and makes your productivity look EVEN worse-a vicious circle) or 180 extra minutes a day doing them?

Before you answer that saving 3 hours a day by taking the crap is preferable even if the net loss in work done is 4 hours, consider review comments and the daily life dissatisfaction of listening to multiple levels of management complaining at you constantly. And even if you think you can take it, your outlook will change eventually. For me it took 6 months.

It's team situations like these that give rise to opportunities for bad managers, and aren't they the ones who have these teams in the first place, to reward their pets and disss everyone else. It can be too easily justified through a year of "not yet complete" daily status emails that any target who's done great work only justifies an achieved or whatever the non-achieved rating is. These status emails are required by the team's PM, since parts of Windows are a bureaucracy run by charts and numbers rather than any real understanding of the work. All the better to collect evidence against, and run the team by stick rather than by carrot. This happens when a manager is too self-focused on "managing up" to protect his team by demanding more headcount, more realistic schedules or simply less work.

It's the kind of insanity covered in industry trade rags a couple years ago at game companies like Electronic Arts. Right here at home, and not just in Games.

If the company was really serious about work/life balance, they'd have a way to vote managers who run their teams like this off the island. Since this doesn't exist, these practices must be in some way sanctioned and therefore likely to continue.

Anonymous said...

How about a manager who takes team members' refusal to do constant 70 hour weeks out on them, having team members either spend an uncomfortable 60 minutes a day during an 8 hour work day explaining to 5 different people why things aren't done (by the way, this further erodes the number of tasks you can complete and makes your productivity look EVEN worse-a vicious circle) or 180 extra minutes a day doing them?

Before you answer that saving 3 hours a day by taking the crap is preferable even if the net loss in work done is 4 hours, consider review comments and the daily life dissatisfaction of listening to multiple levels of management complaining at you constantly. And even if you think you can take it, your outlook will change eventually. For me it took 6 months.


I have to ask myself what kind of person allows themselves to be sujected to this level of abusive behavior.

Seriously -- IT'S TIME TO GET A NEW JOB. If you allow yourself to work under these conditions in the free world when other options are right around the corner (literally and figuratively), you're actually part of the problem and complicit in helping to perpetuate this kind of toxic culture.

No sympathy for you.

Anonymous said...

"[putting in hours of overtime, working until I am sick] ... should happen only once per person ..."

That's all it takes. Well, maybe not literally the "once" part, but eventually most everybody wisens up. Why do you think there is the constant push to hire somewhat-experienced workers and "age" discrimination?

Anonymous said...

Study shows Microsoft brand power in sharp decline --
"
Gregory said that a decline in and of itself is not indicative that a company is losing its mindshare or reputation among customers. However, what's significant in Microsoft's case is that the decline has been consistent over a number of years and has plunged dramatically in a brief time"
http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/27/Study-sees-Microsoft-brand-in-sharp-decline_1.html

What would happen if a product group lost this much market position? Particularly concerning b/c this is w/ the business audience where we actually have signficant advertising spend.

Where is Mich Matthews accountability?

Anonymous said...

>>If the company was really serious about work/life balance, they'd have a way to vote managers who run their teams like this off the island. Since this doesn't exist, these practices must be in some way sanctioned and therefore likely to continue.

The reason why we can't vote them off the island is because it is not only scanctioned, but expected that managers drive their teams hard...after all, the company has always been hard charging and working long hours used to get you at least a merit badge, if not lots of stock upside.

Combine this historical piece with with a changing landscape "in the wild," large org overhead, the complexity of things like an OS, politically-motivated silos, our penchant for reorgs, a low risk tolerance overall but especially for the key franchises, everyone scrambling to "add value" to stay on the island, and our natural tendency to over think and over engineer everything...what you get is that you have to work more here to accomplish the same amount of real work & forward progress that you could do elsewhere in a more sane workweek.

We pay a huge tax in time just to try to get stuff done here. All large corporations suffer from this, but this is the worst example I've seen in my 20 year career.

Welcome to the machine....

Anonymous said...

Please explain the math behind this silly assrtion: how much financial upside, exactly, does Microsoft get if it keeps all remaining outstanding employee stock options under water until they expire?

I'd suggest your read some of the old posts on this blog that did the math for how much money was saved by keeping the stock under $28/share about 2 years ago. We're not talking about millions -- we're talking about more than a billion. You people need to do your research.

Why do you think they offered pennies on the dollar for our options about 3 - 4 years ago? They're saving tons of money by keeping the stock around $30/share.

Also, people clearly don't understand how much money Ballmer has and how much our senior management receives in stock grants when they think that keeping the stock down is somehow impacting their livelihood. Talk about naive...

Anonymous said...

Thing is, Bill and Steve won't forego anything. They already own the stock free and clear. Now if they had billions in options (and not penny options, but the real ones us peons get) I bet we wouldn't be seeing deliberate drop kicking of this company's stock price every half a year by announcing one boneheaded move after another.

Anonymous said...

Thing is, Bill and Steve won't forego anything. They already own the stock free and clear. Now if they had billions in options (and not penny options, but the real ones us peons get) I bet we wouldn't be seeing deliberate drop kicking of this company's stock price every half a year by announcing one boneheaded move after another.

and

I'd suggest your read some of the old posts on this blog that did the math for how much money was saved by keeping the stock under $28/share about 2 years ago. We're not talking about millions -- we're talking about more than a billion. You people need to do your research.

Good lord, I hope neither of you actually work for Microsoft. The quality of this analysis is sophomoric at best.

Please note that more than a billion dollars for Microsoft is not a compelling reason to keep the stock value low so employee options expire under water. Adding a quick billion to our balance sheet through accounting acrobatics doesn't swing the needle in any meaningful way -- you guys are obviously having some trouble working with Very Large Numbers.

As for executive fortunes and why stock price matters to them: Bill lost a few billion of his personal fortune after the Yahoo! announce. An uptick of one buck might get you L60s a hundred bucks or so, but that same buck nets the exec ranks hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

Look beyond the noses at the end of your collective (very) junior faces. The execs -- as foolish and incompetent as some of them are -- are not keeping the stock price low so they can save a few bucks on the cost of your options.

Good friggin' grief.

Anonymous said...

I have to ask myself what kind of person allows themselves to be sujected to this level of abusive behavior.

A person here under an H1-B, to give one example. And if you say that for a chance to make it in America, I deserve to work in sweatshop conditions like that just like your relatives did in the 1800's, we will simply have to agree to disagree.

Just because YOU may be free to walk across the street and get a new employer does not mean that your colleague down the hall is.

Anonymous said...

We were told that if, as a team, we wanted better bonuses, we had better have stellar poll results.

Anonymous said...

Mini,
I've been following your blog for almost three years now. I see that the quality of posts has actually come down. Earlier the comments were filled with a fair number of constructive-criticisms (sometimes with suggested solutions also) and meaningful discussions.

Of late, folks just seem to complain mindlessly about everything. Wondering if the "constructive" folks have just stopped posting or if they've quit MS.

Anonymous said...

Reg. I used to work in Microsoft India SMSG.
....
This is the Microsoft India I left. I'm glad I am no longer part of it.
Monday, March 24, 2008 8:10:00 AM

I have heard the same about India Dev Center also. Lot of people at lower levels (dev/dev-II) seem to be leaving the company and salary seems to be the primary motivation. In some cases, even the entry-level salaries at these "rival" companies is more than these people's (with 3-5 years experience) current salary.

Folks at senior levels and above seem to paid really well as there is not much attrition.

Anonymous said...

Please explain the math behind this silly assrtion: how much financial upside, exactly, does Microsoft get if it keeps all remaining outstanding employee stock options under water until they expire?

The math is simple: no one calls in rich anymore. Think about it.

Anonymous said...

Good lord, I hope neither of you actually work for Microsoft. The quality of this analysis is sophomoric at best.

I don't see what's so sophisticated about your blue-badge "analysis" of saying that a billion is a really big (or really small?) number.

Let's say the share price gets to the point where a bunch of influential people start cashing out:
* Shares get diluted due to options being exercised
* We lose a bunch of potentially important people
* Cashing out is a public vote of no-confidence which could well influence other investors

These seem like pretty good reasons to me to keep the share price low until various option grants expire.

Anonymous said...

A person here under an H1-B, to give one example. And if you say that for a chance to make it in America, I deserve to work in sweatshop conditions like that just like your relatives did in the 1800's, we will simply have to agree to disagree.

Oh.. I do know a couple of H1-B folks who were abused that way by their leads due to their relative inability to just quit without consequences. But this is not true with all groups. Cant you just move else where within the company?

Anonymous said...

>> An uptick of one buck might get you L60s
>> a hundred bucks or so, but that same
>> buck nets the exec ranks hundreds of thousands,
>> if not millions, of dollars.

IF he sells the stock. If he keeps the stock, no money is lost. So the strategy seems to be to let all options expire and then let the stock grow and cash out. SteveB, for instance, rarely if ever sells his MSFT. Now the thing is, those with enough money could circumvent this strategy by buying out their options and waiting to sell until Steve stops crapping on everyone's head. The risk is that by then the stock may not be worth all that much.

Anonymous said...

How bad is things in Microsoft India? The GM Neelam Dhawan is fired and going back to HP. She is taking Rajiv Srivastava with her.

Anonymous said...

Oh.. I do know a couple of H1-B folks who were abused that way by their leads due to their relative inability to just quit without consequences. But this is not true with all groups. Cant you just move else where within the company?

This is not permitted. A poor manager is not always a stupid one. The transfer policy contains two loopholes. A bad but smart manager can use them to prevent workers' departure from a team for a minimum of 12 or 18 months, or work them like field horses for several years and toss them out at the end of their visa period.

Since some of the company is still unaware of these methods, let us refrain from discussing them here and giving anyone ideas.

Anonymous said...

India suing MS for $175M in taxes.

"..licensed, not sold."

http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2008/03/31/microsoft_india_tax_ruling/

Anonymous said...

Rumor - PFE not the place to be anymore. Looks like our organization has grown faster than any inside the company and now the utilization targets can't be met. It sounds like upper management has no clue on how to solve the problem. I have an idea - "stop hirin' people!"

I swear upper level managers receive a higher bonus the more employees that get to suck on the nipple.

Anyway, as a wise man once said - "I love this company!" However, somethings gota change quick!

And about the MS Poll - I filled it out. Honestly. However, it almost seems like a confidence vote in the former Soviet polit-bureau.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft has a huge problem in that Vista is too big for the new low-cost laptops like the Asus Eee and the ones that are going to be based on the upcoming Intel Atom chip.

http://www.tamilstar.com/news/publish/article_7340.shtml

Any ideas, Mini, about what your corporation should do?

Anonymous said...

Some people here seem to think of Microsoft like some sort of horrible monolithic entity.

For all of you working on terrible teams, or are massively under-leveled, what the hell are you up to? I've been at MS 5 years and on my 3rd team and doing quite nicely - my switches were purely opportunistic, I didn't have to *do* anything.

SWITCH!

Anonymous said...

"For all of you working on terrible teams, or are massively under-leveled, what the hell are you up to? I've been at MS 5 years and on my 3rd team and doing quite nicely - my switches were purely opportunistic, I didn't have to *do* anything.

SWITCH!"

I don't think of Microsoft as one big monolithic entity. If it was, people like you and I would not experience such different outcomes when attempting to transfer. Stats: 3 years here, one promotion, multi gold stars, maximum stock award recipient who's never seen a bad review. Not doing anything wrong except breathing and drawing a salary, one or both of which appears to displease the new manager acquired during a reorg last year. Prohibited from switching, inexplicably through use of the performance loophole, despite being on the team for nearly two years and never getting a bad review. Others have been prevented from switching in the past. I am the first after institution of the new transfer policy that made the old excuses harder to use.

In past history teammates without large stock grants would just quit and get rehired, to get off the team. For those of us with large stock grants on the table and families to support, the answer is not as easy. I am technically more mobile than the H-1B poster. No one's threatening me with deportation if I turn in my badge. Practically speaking, I'm still not that mobile given the deferred compensation I'd have to leave on the table if I bolted.

So performance is one of the loopholes. Any manager can create the appearance of bad performance at will by assigning a direct a task list that is impossible to complete, while being careful to make one metric (like rows on a feature list that don't require equal amounts of work) match when comparing them to their peers. What are the others? I'd like to know what else to look out for.

To keep this post on topic, I did my duty and filled out the MS Poll accurately although I hold out little hope that MS Poll numbers are taken that seriously in our bg. Nothing may change as a result, but in case the MS Poll effect is non-zero, it was worth the investment of a half hour of thought.

Be Paid said...

As for executive fortunes and why stock price matters to them: Bill lost a few billion of his personal fortune after the Yahoo! announce. An uptick of one buck might get you L60s a hundred bucks or so, but that same buck nets the exec ranks hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

Look beyond the noses at the end of your collective (very) junior faces. The execs -- as foolish and incompetent as some of them are -- are not keeping the stock price low so they can save a few bucks on the cost of your options.


Steve, Bill and other execs do not care about loosing a bilion or two. If I had thirty billion in bank (or stock) and considered to bet five billion of it to have a chance to make history and &$^@*@# kill Google, I would, just for the heck of it. Having lost 5B I could still afford Mario Batali prepared dinner and a Ferrari as a tip for his waiter. Well, too bad for me though, Steve's ego feeding has cost me ~50K in options, or my house downpayment - which is not necessarily bad thing, I'll be renting for few more years, at least I won't be ripped off by various Seattle RE leeches.

Anonymous said...

"This is not permitted. A poor manager is not always a stupid one. The transfer policy contains two loopholes. A bad but smart manager can use them to prevent workers' departure from a team for a minimum of 12 or 18 months, or work them like field horses for several years and toss them out at the end of their visa period."

Being a manager myself, this is only true for NEW employees. After you have been over a year, HR will crack down on managers who cannot justify keeping the employee back for more than 3-4 weeks. After that you have to get GM/VP approval and an errant manager's BS will show through. Tossing out a person after H1-B expires is total FUD. HR needs VERY strong justification to fire anyone. Also - the starting salaries are set by HR and the manager and in the level band. They can’t create a new band just because you are on H1-B... The manager ALSO has to justify in the wagemail email comparing each and every person in that level as to why they are receiving less or more salary.

I call FUD on the folks who are crying foul about being on H1-B and MS underpaying them.

If they belong to the vendors who MS hires, that’s a different story that is well documented that they get exploited there. That is why right after H1-B approvals happen, you will see them leaving in droves to get their own H1-B's and become CSG/vendors using third party companies.

Anonymous said...

For all of you working on terrible teams, or are massively under-leveled, what the hell are you up to? I've been at MS 5 years and on my 3rd team and doing quite nicely - my switches were purely opportunistic, I didn't have to *do* anything.

Works fine for L59 through L62 or so (maybe L63 if you are really good). But after that, you need a sponser (or patron). Especially getting past L64, you need a GM or VP level patron who is willing to invest in your career. Establishing that relationship usually takes a couple of years at least, so if you're hopping from group to group, you will top out and eventually be Kimmed.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Turner as CEO? I think this guy and his whole overpaid SMSG sales group are on their way out.

I can hire a bunch monkey and they wouldn't do any worse.

Anonymous said...

How bad is things in Microsoft India? The GM Neelam Dhawan is fired and going back to HP. She is taking Rajiv Srivastava with her.

Why should I care about what's going on in India? I'm so sick of Indian employees shouting off just to get some attention.

Let's face it, the reason MS, or any other tech company, hires in India is just because Indians work for cheap. Indian engineers can't invent nor innovate for crap.

How do you know if some code was written by an Indian programmer? Easy. If the code is five hundred lines longer than necessary, overjealously guarding against some rare corner cases, while leaving huge holes and bugs and lacks of the basic features, that's how you know the code was made in India.

I don't want to sound like a bigot, which I am not, but to tell it as it is, Indian engineering is a misnomer. There is no such thing as "engineering" in India. So, Indian employees, please stop trying to appear relevant because we all know you are not. Stop try behaving as if you were the center of the tech world because as soon as the offshore fad is over, you'll be back to being zeroes. Sad, but true.

Anonymous said...

"This is not permitted. A poor manager is not always a stupid one. The transfer policy contains two loopholes. A bad but smart manager can use them to prevent workers' departure from a team for a minimum of 12 or 18 months, or work them like field horses for several years and toss them out at the end of their visa period.

Since some of the company is still unaware of these methods, let us refrain from discussing them here and giving anyone ideas."


Oh PLEASE. I don't care if you're working at Microsoft under a Visa -- if you are being mistreated or worked like a horse in the field, return to your country of origin and find yourself a better situation. Why on earth would you stay here while being mistreated?

Anonymous said...

I've been at MS 5 years and on my 3rd team and doing quite nicely - my switches were purely opportunistic, I didn't have to *do* anything.

Maybe it's because you didn't *do* anything that you're on your third team in 5 years. Like team-hopping is a competition sport. Let me guess, you're shooting for a vice president role within, what, 8 years?

Anonymous said...

>Any ideas, Mini, about what your
corporation should do?

Bring back Win2K? Man that OS was my favorite desktop OS ever.

Just imagine how smokin fast and streamlined that OS would be today.

It could do everything that XP and Vista can do, and do it better.

It would be fascinating to see what sales of Win2K would still be today if it was still supportable.

Heck most Fortune 500's just got off of 2K recently when forced and many would still be using it if they could....as would I personally.

Anonymous said...

"Steve, Bill and other execs do not care about losing a billion or two."

Or the fact that for every billion they lose, general shareholders lose nearly $6 billion. Steve, and especially Bill, have already taken billions out and stored them safely elsewhere (no doubt making a far better return). And Bill will actually have flushed all his stock within 10 years at the current pace. What they care about now is their legacy. To secure that, they have and will continue to sacrifice a good deal of their remaining equity, and a great deal more of everyone else's, on every hedging bet they think is desirable, no matter how tenuous the connection to the company's core competence and seemingly regardless of the cost in terms of lost focus.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ April 02, 2008 10:14:00 PM:

I don't know how your comment got past moderation, but from the experience I've had working with people in MS India, there's talent that competes with the best in Redmond in a good way.

Outsourced Indian programmers may be another story, though.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to sound like a bigot, which I am not, but to tell it as it is, Indian engineering is a misnomer. There is no such thing as "engineering" in India. So, Indian employees, please stop trying to appear relevant because we all know you are not. Stop try behaving as if you were the center of the tech world because as soon as the offshore fad is over, you'll be back to being zeroes. Sad, but true.

Sorry, you're a raging bigot and if you were on my team at Microsoft and I ever heard you say this, you would be an unemployed raging bigot in about 5 seconds.

I *dare* you to reveal who you are -- do so and you'll likely never work again. Don't think there's anything wrong with what you said? Sign your name to it, big man.

Absolutely disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Weekly reporting !!!

The Walmartization of Microsoft is now complete. I am in EPG and am now expected to give a weekly sales forecast. What crack is he smoking?

Anonymous said...

Since there is no India blog for Microsoft I am forced to write here.

My friends and fellow Microsoft people, let me tell you that the situation in SMSG India is horrible. People are leaving and the leadership never meets the employees. We have box manufacturers trying to sell software. We have Chairman who I have not seen in 6 months in person. I have seen him on TV and the newspaper a few times. We have MD Neelam Dhawan who interviewed at Cisco 2 times and did not get a job there and is now going back to HP. The Country Manager for Xbox has left. BMO has almost 100% churn.

We now spend so much time reporting and having conference calls that I cannot meet my customer.

Does the Redmond people care about what is happening in MS India? Who can I complain to if I have a problem? Will Kevin Turner and Jean Philipe Courtois have an all hands meeting with the staff but without the India management present? You know we cannot speak the truth with our management because we will lose our jobs. And I want to keep my job till I get another offer. Like all the employees around me.

Anonymous said...

"overjealously" - lol! You my friend for all your coding skills, cannot spell. Let me correct, you meant - overzealously.

The person in question is shouting about SMSG in India which has got nothing to do with engineering. Indians are hired in SMSG because guess what- Microsoft needs to sell products in India. With over 90% market share in the US and very little innovation, guess where is the revenue going to come from in future? Hate to break it to you bro - India and China.

JJ said...

I am surprised that bigotry has wormed its way into the blog in such a obvious and inflammatory way. I am a long term Microsoft employee and have never tolerated and will never tolerate the kind of talk or attitude that I am seeing here. Dawg....try speaking like this at work and see how fast you're on dole.

I am proud to be an Indian and work in Microsoft India. Indians in general and Microsoft in India (specifically) is responsible for a lot of product development and innovation across R&D, MSR etc. Sure, wages are lower. But that does not mean the quality of work suffers. The beauty of Microsoft is that we have the same high standards regardless of how much one is paid. Perhaps compensation should be higher if you're looking to get some kind balance between output and salary. But don't ever slam Indians because we're paid less.

We have people that compete with the best in the world. We have hunger and passion and knowledge and drive that comes from having to struggle to get to where we are.

We operate in a high growth market and we're raising the bar every day. Sure, we're capitalizing on the outsourcing story. Just like the Middle East capitalizes on oil, the Swiss on Financial Services and Silicon Valley on technology. That is capitalism my friend. We recognized an opportunity and leveraged the heck out of it.

I am truly repulsed by the bigot who posted on this blog. Fortunately most of us recognize it for the drivel that it is.


JJ

Anonymous said...

Sorry, you're a raging bigot and if you were on my team at Microsoft and I ever heard you say this, you would be an unemployed raging bigot in about 5 seconds.

I am not the OP, but I actually agree with what he says. It's not a "race" thing, it's a "culture" thing. Indian culture is very much "the nail that stands out gets hammered down" while western civilization rewards the nail that stands out for his uniqueness and non-conformity.

It's not that Indian programmers aren't capable of thinking "outside the box" (a phrase that is now so overused it's almost oxymoronic to employ it). Rather, it's that they've been conditioned their entire lives NOT to.

I have personally heard a VP at Boeing make the same argument about Indians' lack of innovative thinking that you're grilling the OP for. And that was in front of about five hundred people. Okay, he was a little more diplomatic, but he was making the same point.

I *dare* you to reveal who you are -- do so and you'll likely never work again. Don't think there's anything wrong with what you said? Sign your name to it, big man.

Sadly, I'm sure you're right. I don't condone prejudging people at all and have personally worked with Indian programmers who are exceptions to the rule, but as a general statement it's completely accurate.

Absolutely disgusting.

You misspelled "true."

Juan said...

>I don't want to sound like a bigot, . . .

Juan heeere. Meenie, I theeenk u r slippin.

Anonymous said...

We are tired of scorecards and metrics and now Weekly Fucking forecasts????

Will Kevin-the-used-car-salesman please leave the building?

SteveB - what WILL wake you up?

Anonymous said...

I don't want to sound like a bigot, which I am not, but to tell it as it is, Indian engineering is a misnomer.

It would be nice to have an open and honest discussion about the difference between American/European/Indian/Chinese etc. tech employees.

Your post is not the start of such a discussion, but still, raises the issue.

Unfortunately as soon as anyone starts discussing this sort of stuff, accusations of racism start flying. Sort of like discussing sickle cell anemia and black people 5 years ago.

It is curious to me that India and China graduate several times more computer science PhDs than the US but either something about their education or their economy prevents them from having several times the impact of American programmers. Of course everything I use was worked on by some Indians here and there but to my knowledge, I don't use anything that was originated in India primarily by Indians, as an example.

While I think this would probably be a fascinating topic for discussion, mini-msft may not be the place...

Anonymous said...

from the experience I've had working with people in MS India, there's talent that competes with the best in Redmond in a good way.

I'm the originator of the Indians-trying-too-hard-to-get-some-attention topic. While I don't contest the fact that there are highly trained Indian programmers, I'd like to pinpoint to the fact that these people are so few that they don't make a tiny bit of a difference to make Indian engineering world-class as a whole. The few good Indian geniuses are severely dilluted by half-assed script kiddies and hacks who brand themselves "software engineers" and "programmers". The coding quality of these guys is just the same as that of their tech support lines -- rigid, by the book, addressing the wrong problems (or not addressing the right problems and then making up an excuse and give it up finally) and completely unimaginative. If MS wants its software just as dull as the basic ingredients of Indian food (or I should say, "ingredient", as there's only curry in there), fine, continue outsourcing to those guys.

Outsourced Indian programmers may be another story, though.

and these low-quality guys are the majority. That is why I'm saying that Indian "engineering" (for the lack of a better word) is still pretty much in the primitive stage. However, thanks to Corporate America's blind outsourcing, these guys have gained too much confidence, thinking they're hot stuff, and keep torturing us by telling us all the mundane details about what's going on in India. That's the annoyance I think not so many people dare to speak up against, but they are surely against it.

Once more, Indians, please get real. Your engineering stuff is nothing to be proud about. Stop clinging on to your false pride and stop talking about yourselves as if you were the bellybutton of the universe. You have jobs because the majority of you work for cheap. That's all about it.

Thursday, April 03, 2008 11:34

Anonymous said...

"overjealously" - lol! You my friend for all your coding skills, cannot spell. Let me correct, you meant - overzealously.

Thanks for the correction. It's been known that programmers can't spell. I usually dispute that fact until now.

With over 90% market share in the US and very little innovation, guess where is the revenue going to come from in future? Hate to break it to you bro - India and China.

Isn't China the biggest software pirate in the world? How much money can we get out of India, and how much software gets illegally copied and distributed every year? If I owned a software business, I would rather concentrate my efforts selling my products in more lucrative markets, like America, Japan, and Europe, not the bottom of the barrell like China and India.

Sooner or later, MS sales dept. should realize its misfocus, and leave China and India for what they are. Hopefully, by that time, we won't hear much about how a Dr. Ashok invented a shading algorithm that has been known around in the U.S. since the 1970's.

Anonymous said...

">I don't want to sound like a bigot, . . ."

Juan heeere. Meenie, I theeenk u r slippin.


+1. I'm surprised and disappointed that Mini let that comment through, and doubly disappointed that he let something racist and hateful through without a response.

Bummer, Mini.

Anonymous said...

"It would be nice to have an open and honest discussion about the difference between American/European/Indian/Chinese etc. tech employees.

Your post is not the start of such a discussion, but still, raises the issue.

Unfortunately as soon as anyone starts discussing this sort of stuff, accusations of racism start flying. Sort of like discussing sickle cell anemia and black people 5 years ago.
"

What caves are you people crawling out from? Please go back.

Sickle cell anemia? Considered racist 5 years ago to discuss? Um, Hello Cap'n: it's been a recognized African American health crisis since I was a week laddie many decades ago. I have no idea why on earth you'd bring it up in this discussion unless you're trying to show that you really are a completely clueless and likely racist asshat.

The reason people start screaming racism in these discussions, Einstien, is that they are generally racist. I've known more amazing Indian Devs than I can easily count, for example, and as with any other population the cream rises to the top and the mediocre are seat warmers. If you think India has any more of a corner on the seat-warmer market than the United States when it comes to developers, well... I have entire Microsoft divisions filled with bench warming, yes-men white guys with fancy CS degrees who suck royally to show you.

The undercurrents of racism coming out in these comments definitely show how much the people in this country can truly suck.

Anonymous said...

"So, Indian employees, please stop trying to appear relevant because we all know you are not."

If you qualify this by "Indian employees who are based in IDC (India)", then I tend to agree, however, the Redmond based Indian employees I've worked with have been solid.

Anonymous said...

While not very politically correct, the OP who pointed out that India is generally lacking in innovation and technical leadership is spot-on. I manage a team of 100 in Hyderabad, 40 in China, and 75 in Redmond and I have never seen an Indian who I would trade for any of my top 20 Redmond employees.

I think it is a cultural problem that is rooted in the taboo subject of the caste system, which is very much alive and well in India, and the way arranged marriages work there. The most impactiful manifestation is that you simply don't see technical ICs who are devoted to their craft and want to stay on an IC career path for 10 - 20 years. You won't find an Indian dev with 10+ years of applied experience who can troubleshoot complex scalability problems across client, database, and IIS layers. You won't find an architect who has paid their dues seeing the long term ramifications of good and bad design decisions and knows how to identify the appropriate application of classic patterns. Maybe you can get someone who has read a few books and done one or two big releases and can talk the talk, but that's about it.

You will find plenty of devs who pay their dues for 3 - 5 years before moving on to any position with the coveted "manager" word in the title. The fact is that without this word in their title, their marriage prospects are much more limited. I've seen plenty of devs who make the switch to PM just because it has the magic word "manager" in the title. Who cares that they don't manage people, their family and the parents of their prospective spouse don't know what a PM is versus a people manager.

India is also too hierarchical, again a holdover from the caste mentality. Managers fight for turf and protect their fiefdoms as measured in headcount even moreso than we do in Redmond.

I think China is the long term bet for global talent. They are unencumbered by the caste system and are closer to the US in being a meritocracy where anyone with raw talent who works hard has no limits to what they can achieve. In China there is no equivalent to the Brahmin class that lords it over the lower classes and has an attitude that ascending to partner level is their birthright. China just has three issues that I see: (1) they are less mature in the industry, being about where India was 20 years ago. They need more software engineering process discipline to scale (2) English and communications is an issue, moreso than India (don't underestimate the communications problems in India though...demonstrated by the broken English we see in most of the comments posts from India here) (3) The internal China market is huge and will consume a good portion of the talent, slowing their advancement into the global labor pool. All of these are transient barriers as opposed to the deeper endemic cultural barriers in India however. Plus China has the HUGE benefit of being much closer in terms of timezone than India.

Who da'Punk said...

I'm surprised and disappointed that Mini let that comment through, and doubly disappointed that he let something racist and hateful through without a response.

It is a powder keg. And the original poster had some immediate response.

I am interested in hearing more real direct experience people have had working with overseas development teams. Not to rag on them. But as hiring here becomes harder (if you believe that), we have basically "Dev Team In A Box" processes to spin up new teams. How does that go?

I'm especially interested in hearing success stories realizing that Redmond development is unique and different management styles are required for different overseas teams.

One failure story that comes to mind: you can't just load balance Outlook Express to India and expect good results without being engaged and adapting to their skills and results.

Anonymous said...

(Mini, I apologize in advance if following the India thread is off the track.)

My personal experience is that it's a clash of culture rather than any racism.

I remember being tasked by an Indian VP to mentor/manage a group of Indians over here on a "training" visa who were actually doing work. The men continually harassed the departmental admin (a pleasant, competent older woman) in the most unpleasant ways. The one woman would cry when given any direction. I had to structure, oversee and debug most of their work. All were grievously incompetent despite their much vaunted educations.

It was one of the most unpleasant assignments I've had in a long career, and the VP was most unhappy at me for not positioning his proteges better.

Anonymous said...

"If MS wants its software just as dull as the basic ingredients of Indian food (or I should say, "ingredient", as there's only curry in there), fine, continue outsourcing to those guys."

Did you really just say that?

Really?

This discussion is really, truly eye-opening.

Anonymous said...

I think China is the long term bet for global talent. They are unencumbered by the caste system and are closer to the US in being a meritocracy where anyone with raw talent who works hard has no limits to what they can achieve.

Brilliant. Have you accounted for the fact that the communist party will randomly kill off or "re-educate" an entire generation when they feel they are losing control?

Plus China has the HUGE benefit of being much closer in terms of timezone than India.

Don't see why this is relevant. When China or India becomes the dominant market, it is the US that is timezones away from the action. I'm hoping India wins of course, but regardless of what nation becomes the dominant market, the other nation will be much closer to it than the US.

I think it is a cultural problem that is rooted in the taboo subject of the caste system, which is very much alive and well in India, and the way arranged marriages work there. The most impactiful manifestation is that you simply don't see technical ICs who are devoted to their craft and want to stay on an IC career path for 10 - 20 years.

I think it is because up until recently senior ICs had no way to go but immigrate to the US. That would explain why there are quite a few senior ICs from India/IDC working in Redmond. Expect IC availability in India to get better as IDC matures and creates senior level IC jobs.

Anonymous said...

We outsource entire projects to India because we don't have enough talent around here to get the work done, and many open headcounts go unfilled. Yeah, Mini, I know you hate the thought of hiring more devs, but in my division, as a dev, I can tell you that we really could benefit from some extra devs writing code. And the way that gets done is by jettisoning products (entire products!) to India and then absorbing the devs from the jettisoning. Of course, I don't like this. It's very short term thinking, and so far, every product we sent to India has turned to crap. To make things worse, some of the stuff we sent to Inida are dependancies for us, so not our own coding efforts are hindered by dealing with bugs added to the code we used to own. And getting them to fix them is nearly impossible.

I think there are plenty of very smart devs over in India, and I think that the problem is not the caste system or the culture. I think the problem is that they are thousands of miles away, and with the time zone difference, communication is just not happening. Also, you have a bunch of "fresh" people who don't know the MS core technology as well as we do here. When a new product is developed here in Redmond, it starts with people who have been here a while (or we buy a company).

I think to really do MS India right, we would need to have at least 25% of their staff be transfers from Redmond, and we all know that will never happen.

Anonymous said...

I've done projects with both China and India. The cultural items mentioned may exist, but structural issues with our processes, hiring, training, etc were far more negatively impactful. Couple things I've seen repeatedly: We'll use either country for single functions only - dev or test for instance. While the 'biz' who deeply understands both the requirements & that products fit into it's ecosystem in Redmond. We do short 'deep' trainings for these folks doing the work and we expect them to 'get' it via the reqs and a week or two of training vs the years of living in that products space we in Redmond have. It's always big mess as you'd expect. Then what we often see if we do a round two with the product is that all the folks in India/China who 'contributed' to the prior have all moved on. The pay scales are raising there much faster there vs Redmond & once they've worked through our product once, the folks are in high demand.

All in all a big & generally predicted cluster with a net negative return once you count all the HC we keep to do the jobs the sub was supposed to do after they're done doing it.

One product we did dev in China, test in India. What a mess.

A fair way to see how they roll would be to hand over the keys of a project end to end - perhaps even including marketing/sales/etc. We'd know by the second cycle how they do.

Anonymous said...

"If MS wants its software just as dull as the basic ingredients of Indian food (or I should say, "ingredient", as there's only curry in there), fine, continue outsourcing to those guys."

Education was truly wasted on you.

Anonymous said...

Good lord, I hope neither of you actually work for Microsoft. The quality of this analysis is sophomoric at best.

Please note that more than a billion dollars for Microsoft is not a compelling reason to keep the stock value low so employee options expire under water. Adding a quick billion to our balance sheet through accounting acrobatics doesn't swing the needle in any meaningful way -- you guys are obviously having some trouble working with Very Large Numbers.

As for executive fortunes and why stock price matters to them: Bill lost a few billion of his personal fortune after the Yahoo! announce. An uptick of one buck might get you L60s a hundred bucks or so, but that same buck nets the exec ranks hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

Look beyond the noses at the end of your collective (very) junior faces. The execs -- as foolish and incompetent as some of them are -- are not keeping the stock price low so they can save a few bucks on the cost of your options.


Apparently you're the guy who has problems with large numbers.

First, since we now have to expense the cost of these options we could easily take a 10 - 20 cent hit in earnings depending on many factors.

Second, whatever Bill lost these last 3 or so months has absolutely zero impact on his lifestyle. Meanwhile, I was an L64 who lost at least $100 - 200k. It's definitely impacted my life.

Talk about sophomore...

Anonymous said...

"Can you name any CVPs who have created 100M dollar businesses within MS? 10M dollar? Any partners? DEs? Didn't think so."

Actually, I can (not going to name them here though). Certainly they did not do it singlehanded, but working together (one GPM, one DevMgr) along with their respective teams, they created a brand new business. I don't think they've passed the 100M (profit, not revenue, mind you!) mark, but they've definitely passed several 10s, and still on the way up for the forseeable future.

Anonymous said...

It's about time that we all realized that our stock price is simply based on the market's perception of where we are headed, and that we all contribute to that perception by every post, every single business decision, and every action that we take.

Sure, there's fund manager after fund manager on Wall Street that uses MS as a hedge, as in the past few years we have tended to be the rudder rather than the weathervane of market performance. But recongize that fact, and rather than complain about it, do something to change it. Does Kevin Johnson own that? Does Lisa Brummel? No - each of us does.

I'm rather tired of an employee base that feels entitled to bitch about every last thing rather than take ownership to change it. Sure, the world has changed and some that forecasted themselves to be worth millions a few years in the future are now worth a fraction of that. If that's truly what motivates you: leave. Chase your dream elsewhere.

If instead you believe that there are few places in corporate America where a good idea has a better-than-average chance of influencing the lives of millions of people WW, then buckle down and start changing the world.

I joined this company well after the unbelievable years, so I don't have a vested account on which to fall back. I'm here because I choose to be here, and because I think any other single company is too one-dimensional, too limited in their capabilities to do what we are able to do. And lest you think I'm some refugee from some failing industry - I assure you that I am not. I took a very substantial paycut from a strong growth industry to be here because I felt that my WW legacy would be greater by joining MS than not.

So stop abdicating ownership of the future and for God's sake stop taking a victim's mentality if you're above admin level. You live in what is practically paradise, you have a supposed talent in your domain expertise, and you have a both a brain and a mouth. YOU own own future - not your manager, not KJ, not Lisa, not Steve. So start owning it tomorrow.

And in case you're wondering, I'm neither some senior manager @ MS nor some plant - just someone with a whole bunch of experience in the real world external to MS prior to joining more than 6 years ago, who has been reading this blog for the the better part of the last two years, and who has seen his personal ideas make an impact when I've actually taken the time and effort to make them sufficiently compelling.

Success breeds success and great thinkers as well as syncophants & followers. Difficulty breeds dissention and desertion as well as a forum for true leaderhip. Where do you fall?

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree indian engineering is a myth. As everywhere 90% people are average and only 10% are good. In US that 10% can afford to walk away from bureaucracy and start doing cool stuff but in india they can't due to their economic condition and they won't due to risk averse nature of indian culture. To top it all, mediocre Indian managers move from US back to India
These managers pick only low risk projects in fear of failure which kills any spirit of innovation.

PS: Indian working in a non-MSFT company out of bangalore

Anonymous said...

As a manager, the Poll is flawed with its cookie cutter approach to assess climate--IF that is what the intended purpose. How can we uncover trends and issues if we respond to the same questions year after year. What about the issues we ARE dealing with, many mentioned here: leadership moves, re-orgs, offices, tools to the job, managers, transfers, promotions (or lack thereof) and politics. Simply put, I have a pretty good deal when it comes to my immediate world at MS, but I provide a service to a cross section of the company and it's often in those situations where I want to pack it in and leave. There are huge silo problem of old school tenure, middle managers that only salute like good soldiers instead of using their brains and making informed decisions, and hardly anyone seems to care about customers anymore. Don't even get me started on "team" concepts, since no one is ever allow to form a team before a reorg comes along. It seems like everyone at L65 an above has lost the ability to listen and hear. Just a bunch of talking heads and @sses. Every empire in history reaches a tipping point--when the troops no longer understand the mission, the force weakens and crumbles.

Anonymous said...

Today is the first time when i visited this blog & I should say..you are RIGHT THERE especially when it comes to commenting on MS India. Though i am little bit surprised that no one has yet commented on our Sr. Finance director. He is a proclaimed lecherous who been fired from his last two organizations because of the same offense & YOU GUESS....he has been able to bring the same person here too. KUDOS to MS HR....which so-called has the FOOL PROOF system of hiring people & they take 5/6/7 rounds of interviews before hiring anyone but cant do a single authentic reference check before hiring anyone at such a senior level. Go to GENPACT, AMEX & every kid on the floor knows the fact.OR
should we first fire this EUNUCH HR team?????

Anonymous said...

I have a concern that relates to the whole working environment in MS. My concern is of a certain nationality moving people of their own nationality into management position, and giving offers to people of their own nationalities who are much less qualified than other nationalities who got refused. This type of cronieism is very detrimental to the overall health and competitiveness of the company and should be stemed out from a policy change somehow. and yes, I mean the Indians.

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Anonymous said...

I was recently told that the management team in one of the (non-product) support groups feels that employees need to be trained and educated on how to take the poll as they gave poor ratings on some of the issues. My jaw dropped when I heard that this idiot doesn't even understand the very reasoning behind the poll process and has his head up his dumb a**. His comments make me doubt on the ability of some of the leaders this company is tolerating.