Monday, December 27, 2004


(Well, that title might be a bit obscure, but maybe not...)

The What's Next for Google article pointed to via Slashdot has the following benefits snippet:

...In a Playboy interview published shortly before Google's IPO, Brin and Page did not mention competitive threats. Rather, they talked about corporate ethics, the creation of foundations, and their efforts to make Google a great place to work.

Google is a great place to work. My friends there absolutely love the place, and in part for that reason, they work very hard. Google allows pets and provides employees with laundry service, drinks, meals, massages, car washes, and (soon) child care. Its corporate motto is "Don't be evil." But long ago, a professor of mine, noting my youthful idealism, remarked that the only successful neutral nations are those, like Switzerland, that are permanently armed to the teeth. And for Google, neutrality is not an option.

Okay, I know that Google is a lot smaller and can lavish benefits like this on their employees. Surely if Google survives and gets bigger and bigger they won't be serving three-squares a day and making their employee life so easy that they can simply concentrate on doing a great job. Er, right?

Sigh. Google, Google, Google!

I still think Microsoft is trimming muscle instead of fat in their hopes to appease Wall Street with their adherence to doing the best job possible managing Microsoft Corporation for the shareholders. When management's bitter harvest unfurls its withered crop, the bad decisions to make Microsoft a tepid workplace creating tepid results will not be what is foisted out as the target of blame.

As I ruminate the eroding Microsoft benefits and perks (make no mistake, what remains is still better than average), I find the recent Sea ttle Weekly article about CostCo interesting as it recounts the CostCo management telling Wall Street to blow off when given harsh financial advice about trimming back on benefits to increase profits and share price. Now I see benefits cut-backs as a little quickie-financial algorithm that someone executed within Microsoft vs. taking a moment to actually think about what really needs to be cut (staff).

So we don't have official gala holiday party events - I don't miss them, but as Microsoft trims back on its parties, Yahoo and Google fire them up. Me? I can pay for my own food and I don't have a dog. As a small example of something I do miss: I miss the holiday shipping benefit. I still ship physical stuff and it saved me a lot of time to go over to, say, Pebble Beach and quickly send off my packages. Then I was happy and got back to work quickly and wrote some, if I do say so, great freaking code. Now I come back frazzled and PO'd.

Are there plenty of folks who shook their Christmas stocking hard, hoping that out would fall some evidence that Microsoft super-values its employees? Given where Microsoft is right now it just plain can't. We've started down the atrophying path of benefit and budget cut-backs. And what does the weenie that replaced the shrimp get replaced with as we go down the next level? It's sort of the reverse of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." And I don't think it ends at Spam.

I again suggest that the brakes be slammed on and for management to express what might seem to be an oddly opposing message:

  1. We super-value our employees and demonstrate this by the following benefits and perks that we have crafted to increase employee morale, satisfaction, and results...
  2. We are vastly overstaffed for the challenges we need to succeed at and have started a 10% reduction of the worldwide staff.

Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft!


Anonymous said...

>if Google survives and gets bigger and bigger they
>won't be serving three-squares a day and making their
>employee life so easy

well that depends - whats the hiring pool like these days? If you're doing some really smart hiring (and you can be picky these days) then you can grow in size but not bog down the company with non-technical idiots.

Anonymous said...

The tech-pool is big, my a**. It is freaking hard to find good people these days. They are all going to Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and maybe eBay. That´s it. No Microsoft. What you rather see these days is what good ol´ Steve once called bad attrition. Good people running away screaming. Bah!

Anonymous said...

According to an article I read within the past couple weeks, the Microsoft CIO agrees that the labor pool is tight.

Anonymous said...

The only reason people are leaving is because the stock is flat. If the stock was growing at even half the rate it did in the 90's people would not be leaving the company.

Do we have to many people? Yes! instead of a 10% reduction. Just get rid of all of the contractors! Go look at headtrax and you can see how many contractors that are on staff. It would be very easy to just cut the CSG people across the board and save tons of cash.

We also need to be more efficient in how we build software. We spend to much time in the planning stage. We spend to much time in the politics. We need to cut some of those high salary VP's also. Do we need over 100 hundred VP's? NO! All they do is fight over who owns what and who will build what. Why is there a BI group under Richard McAniff and also a Lewis Levins BI group? That is just a bunch of VP politics about who owns what. We are becoming to corporate. We need to get rid of some of these VP's who have been around for 15-20 years and move some of the younger GM's or directors into the VP role. New Blood!!!!

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to accept the idea of just blindly firing people like that.

I don't work at MS, but I think everyone there should be a competent software developer.

Also, every employee should be able to pick up the phone at any given time and resolve a customer's technical problem on at least one product.

Anonymous said...

If we actually HAD a plan when we got done with planning, it would have been time well spent. Instead, we have a "vision" and some "scenarios", but no ACTUAL PLAN that people can execute against.

Anonymous said...

The main problem is lack of innovation and the cause of that is more than simply being a big company. As such, reducing headcount (which I agree should be done) isn't going to solve the problem - it's simply going to buy more breathing room. Frankly, MSFT needs new leadership - Gates/Ballmer/Raikes are too invested in the past, lack the creativity required for the future and (even if they had the ideal skill set) suffer from too much past baggage to lead MSFT to the next level. If nothing radical is done, I agree with you that MSFT's total atrophy and irrelelevance is inevitable - it's already well on its way.

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't Gates/Ballmer/Raikes. The problem is to many VP's playing politics instead of building software.

Most of them are wealthy and don't have that hunger. I believe Gates and Ballmer are still hungry as for the rest of the VPs and SVPs I just don't see it.

I don't think MS is going away but I do think that we will lose relevance if we don't innovate.

Anonymous said...

>The problem is to many VP's playing politics instead of building software

Oh I absolutely agree.

How many of these VP's names do you even recognise?

Anonymous said...

Who hired those useless VPs, who tasks them and to whom do they report? Also, who's babies are the emerging businesses that despite years of gestation and $B's lost, collectively represent a rounding error on MSFT top line, can't sustain even 10% overall growth and are still detracting from profitabililty? Sorry, accountability starts at the top and since Ballmer is fond of that subject lately, perhaps he should start with himself.

BTW, don't be too sure of MSFT not going away. I used to think that and figure MSFT was maturing into an IBM-type company. Of late, I'm wondering if Digital Equipment isn't a more likely scenario.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Who da'Punk said...

(Admin: removed a post per request on other page [ ] - I don't plan to do this too often.)

Anonymous said...

+1,I'm not again google but I prefer Yahoo

Anonymous said...

IMHO, there is plenty of innovation and drive among developers. BUT it gets quickly killed at PUM/GM and above levels. Reasons? 'Oh, we can't ship this now, we must align with product X'. Or: 'Group Y is behind the schedule, we can't be writing new stuff, we should load balance them!'

Anonymous said...

Heres a fun game to play - how many LPM/PUM/GM 's do you think are out there that have written RTM code?

Anonymous said...

Heres a fun game to play - how many LPM/PUM/GM 's do you think are out there that have written RTM code?

Anonymous said...

As a 9 year MS employee in Silicon Valley, I often wonder whether it's time for me to go. It really isn't at all the same company I joined, and the Redmond-centricity is getting overwhelming. The number of interesting non-Redmond MS jobs for someone with strong development experience is quite small. And it is nearly impossible to get a job for a Redmond-based team if you are not at corporate. MS managers are very keen on "co-location" to the point that they brag about their efforts not just to get their teams in the same building, but also on the same floor. I find this ironic coming from a company that has many products designed for remote collaboration. Clearly, MS doesn't believe in its own collaboration products enough trust employees use to use them.

Anonymous said...

A bit off topic, but worth mentioning since it ties together a bunch of topics outlined herein. Google just out manuevered MS in courting AOL's hand.. a deal that would have given MSN a big shot in the arm. (We lost it because AOL didn't think we were treating this as a partnership.) Given Blake Irving and his cohorts blew this deal (and essentially handed it to Google), where is the accountability? If this were an investment bank, Blake (who is nothing more than an expensive commodity) would have been publicly beheaded in the town square. But I guess the Yes Man Leader doesn't have the chutzpah to do the right thing.