Tuesday, August 1, 2006

10,000 More Microsofties - What Do They Do?

So there I was, languishing sideways in a sun-drenched chair, indulging in bon bons, and getting engrossed in another summer-time read when Todd Bishop and I had a quick conversation.

"...Microsoft increased by 10,000 in FY06," the ever vigilant Mr. Bishop shared with me, keeping an eye on the recent postings to Microsoft's PressPass site.

Goodness gracious!

A fine G-rated reaction. And thank goodness I didn't have a bon bon in my mouth right then.

This was a heck of a kick-off to the 2006 Financial Analysts Meeting. Who are these people we've hired around the world? Sales and marketing? The field? MSN? Perhaps I'm reading too much summer-time dreck, but it makes me wonder if we're hiring all the folks we can to keep them away from the competition, tucking them away in pods along the The Dalles and other international locales. I shared my opinion with Mr. Bishop: they certainly are not developers, unless we've really lowered the bar and have decided it's okay to hire people who don't need to know how the JIT works, let alone those memory pointer thingies. You can spell HTML? Hired!

Unless someone has a secret to share on how to hire lots and lots of super-talented developers.

Redmond employee count grew by what... holy crap, almost four-thousand people! And our total global growth, including Redmond, was originally projected at 5,000? No wonder we have streets that turn into parking lots around campus. You know, you can only put so many rats in a box before the stress gets to them and it gets toxic and ugly. And the Redmond box is pretty much full. The infrastructure can't take much more, especially if you consider the ancillary jobs that open up based on the increased Microsoftie jobs.

I can only hope that FY07 will not be another 16% growth year. But I'm one beaten down individual, as if each one of these new folks have walked right over me as I sputter, "Mini- Microsoft- Lean- and- Mean- ooch!"

As for the FAM... lots of good coverage all over. I know, we didn't give anyone confidence about Vista's slip ship date (including a report that the press groaned to the answer about when Vista would ship... like we stuck our stock's chin out for a prime right hook). Personally, I would have loved some theater. Like BrianV being onstage giving that initial answer, "...we slip so that we don't ship shit!" and then being fired (or sent to MBS or something) and Jon DeVaan being yanked out of the audience and asked the same question, "We're shipping on time! I promise!" Now that would be refreshing.

Well of course that's not how it's shaping up in the near term. Some folks are grumbling about Sinofsky cronyism as Windows reorganizes for the future. I'm excited for any change that seems to be busting up the levels of hierarchy, clearing out the old, and bringing in the new. Some folks aren't going to be happy with any changes. But I think it's promising. What would you do differently? One positive outlook:

JonDe is a microsoft hero. He and EE team will make windows a tiger again.

It makes me wonder if the folks being given the bums rush are looking for jobs elsewhere or if this SPSA grant coming up very soon is having the positive benefit of "I finally got mine and I am out of here!":

My office is currently being swamped with senior microsoft partners looking to explore options, to consider employment with my firm.

What I am trying to get a handle on is if this is the first wave of Vista related attrition, or is this people planning on moving on after the first slug of the big $1m payday, or is this the first wave of the rif?

I am just curious. It seems odd that we would see so much activity now.

(Lord, it's me... Mini. Please, please let this be the truth and not some sadistic soul playing me for the fool. It's been a rough year, Lord, and I need something hopeful like this to make it through!)

Well, if your office is Google then I hope folks realize they might have a rush to beat... let's see, what's that URL from today's PI? Here we go: http://www.google.com/aspirejennifer - time's a-wasting!

Other goings on...

(1) FAM demo blowout: I was in too much shock from the employment growth to complain about this. In the meantime, both Larry Osterman and Rob Chambers have owned up to what went wrong and why. That's pretty damn open and honest. Some commenters wrote conspiracy theories around it being a staged demo, but somehow I think if it was staged it, ah, wouldn't have crapped out.

(2) Microsoft Lays Out Plans at Analyst Day has the following encouraging note:

It's only a matter of time before Wall Street takes notice of the strides that Microsoft has made of late to transform itself from a slow-moving software behemoth into a company that can better take advantage of new trends in the marketplace. Microsoft's renewed focus on online services is a good move for the company. Meanwhile, the company has taken full advantage of the XBox 360's head start on the other next generation consoles, and it has been doing a good job of leveraging the system's popularity to generate new revenue streams. With all of Microsoft's initiatives set to come together next year, fiscal year 2008 should see huge profits for the firm.

Well, it was encouraging until that FY08 part... better than FY-never.

(3) Ballmer Analyzes Microsoft's 'One Big' Vista Mistake - Mr. Ballmer continues the long mea culpa around integrated innovation. Additionally, Mr. Ballmer is attending his own kind of listening tour around campus right now with Ray Ozzie, meeting with L65+ employees, group by group, and having frank conversations. Hmm!

(4) Watch out, Google, Microsoft now gets the Net - interesting that folks are writing about the Old Microsoft and the New Microsoft.

(5) MSFTextrememakeover FAM - Ante up, up the ante, or just plain bluffing - Microsoft Extreme Makeover's summarization on the FAM - very nicely done.

(6) Charles DiBona and Dylan Yolles shared some interesting insights at the post-FAM Breakfast Series event. They saw it as extremely positive that Microsoft responded with a buy-back. Next request (same as last year): a consistent significant dividend. That would increase all sorts of investment in the stock.

Why is such a dividend a bad idea?

For Dylan: Linux, not so much of a worry on the desktop given that the TCO isn't terribly different (upfront cost is negligible compared to TCO). OpenOffice: beginning to worry more about. Interesting that he brought up a worry over developers and how he sees developers gravitating towards an Eclipse / Open Source environment. What do we do to get developers excited and engaged?

For Charlie: well, he can make us feel better for suffering through a Series of Unfortunate Events: the love affair with Google, the Vista delay screwing over those looking for a Vista dividend (and they in turn screwing us over), and the unknown payoff of the unexpected $2,000,000,000 investment. He saw big changes over the past three months: communication being open, being receptive to feedback, and to act on that feedback. Kudos to those change-makers.

And the reward for, well, the ballsiest question during the Q&A goes to the gentleman who asked about the prospects of taking Microsoft private. That question resulted in Dylan sharing an interesting nugget from five years ago: Bill Gates told Dylan that if the stock got low enough Bill Gates would take the company private.

How much lower is low enough?

Updated: fixed a couple of typos, especially one where I said "slip" when I truly meant "ship." Oy.

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