Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Who ain't John Galt

Who ain't href="http://microsoftok.blogspot.com/2004/12/who-is-john-galt.html">John
Galt? Perhaps that's a better question as our senior brain drain
continues (I still don't have a snazzy name for the blogging trend re:
"ex-Microsofties now workin' here" kind of posts

Okay, who ain't John Galt? Sure is looking like the answer to that is
Bill Gates and Microsoft.

As noted today, Mr. Lenn Pryor has moved

  • title="http://lennpryor.blogs.com/lenn/2005/04/goodbye_microso.html"
    Microsoft, Hello Skype - Lenn's blog entry on the transition.

  • href="http://www.25hoursaday.com/weblog/PermaLink.aspx?guid=7c0dfbad-d09b-42
    2a-88c6-ec0b72dece22">Robert Scoble's Guardian Angel Leaving Microsoft -
    Dare's take (Dare is of course always a good read).

  • href="http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/archives/004695.html?wbfr
    om=rss">Ch. 9 founder leaving - Todd Bishop @ the Seattle

  • href="http://news.com.com/2061-1_3-5676685.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=news"
    >Pryor a Microsoft prior - C|Net.

While Microsoft might have cast the net wide to hire all the bright
computer people in the world over the years, somewhere along the way some
crap and chum got snagged in the net and crap begets crap and crap hires
crap. And as the effects of that oozes across campus in a dulling miasma,
you've got to expect the brightest to pull their heads up and say,
"You mean there is a place where I can write
great software that actually gets shipped and makes money! Sign me

There are no golden handcuffs anymore so it truly comes down to enjoying
your job and getting fairly compensated for it. For those of you who kept
your options in hopes that the stock would go up, traipse on over to href="http://stock/">http://stock/ sometime and see how far below water
some of your glorious options are still.

sticking to my guns: I'd rather see fewer folks working at Microsoft,
even if it's the best and brightest leaving first and we have to deal with
shambled remains of Microsoft for a while as the effects kick in.

That leads to John Galt. Okay, let's forget about the literary worth of
tlas Shrugged
, but take a moment to reflect on some parallels here.
Ayn Rand wrote about an America where the true achievers were hampered by
mediocre people with mediocre goals. John Galt came along and snatched all
these great people away to achieve unhampered greatness. Today, the market
and competitors are likewise serving as an alluring John Galt as Microsoft
drifts to this mediocre environment propelled only by past achievements and
truckloads of cash coming in uncoupled with anything we do right or do

Back to Lenn's blog posting:

I decided to swap problem sets from one that I am not
passionate about any more to one that I AM deeply passionate about. I just
couldn't go on being an evangelist for a gospel that I don't believe I can
sing. I am returning to focus on what I enjoy most, building amazing things
that make people happy, change lives, and make money. In this case Skype was
a better place for me to do this and one that shares my core values and
beliefs in how the future of both software and business will

What's the tipping point? Who needs to be the last straw? When does
senior management snap-to and start to wonder about what the problem is such
that so many talented people are leaving and the bad attrition numbers are
going up? Sure, we had a reason for talented folks leaving in droves during
the internet boom: money. As folks left for start-ups, Microsofties would
give them a cheery goodbye and (if they were good) say (once they
were out of earshot
), "They'll be

Now folks are leaving to relish the passion of creating and shipping
great software. And I haven't heard anyone mutter, "color="#000080">They'll be back." I've seen far more moments of
wistful envy. You can't compete with that John Galt.

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