Career and Money Advice At The Intersection Of Business And Technology

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Too many Microsoft employees drink their own Kool-Aid

July 5th, 2012 · 3 Comments

I was chatting with someone who was a mid-level manager at Microsoft. He has been with Microsoft for several years.

Since he worked in finance, I started the conversation by asking him: “You guys just wrote off the Aquantive acquisition. That’s $6+ billion dollars. You work in finance. What’s your take?”

His response: “you know, it didn’t affect our stock at all. We have tons of cash. It wasn’t a big deal for us. It’s Microsoft. Only Microsoft can take $6 billion dollars write-off.”

“You know, the Aquantive acquisition was positioned as one of the most important acquisition in Microsoft history. How could Steve Ballmer survives such a big write-off? They wrote off the entire amount!” I pressed him.

“It’s Microsoft. You guys didn’t know how much cash we were generating. We’re still one of the best companies out there. We’re doing great!”

“You know, you guys missed Search, and now are way behind in mobile. Mobile devices are quickly taking shares away from PC. Microsoft is facing a huge issue there. Android has 50%+ market share. Apple has 35%+ market share. Microsoft only has 5% market share. That’s pretty scary.”

He laughed at me. “You know. I work in the mobile group. I work with the carriers. They told us that iPhone is too expensive. And Android is too expensive to maintain from customer service standpoint. It’s open source, but because it is open source, it is very expensive to support and service Android device. Microsoft has the best solution.”

“Well, there is one thing missing your argument!” At this point, my thinking is: “what kind of Kook-Aid is he drinking!!!” 🙂

He said: “what am i missing?”

“Well, you miss the CONSUMERS! If they don’t want Windows phone, it does NOT matter what the telecoms are telling you!”

“Well, you’re right, but we’re Microsoft. We’ll fight and get there.”

I work and live in the Seattle area. I really hope for a strong Microsoft because Microsoft is crucial for the local economy here.

However, I cannot tell you how many Microsoft employees I met who are drinking their own Kool-Aid everyday. They have no clue how the outside world has changed.

It’s frustrating. I was talking to a friend who worked at Microsoft before. He told me that Microsoft really brainwash their employees.

I have no doubt!

Tags: Company Analysis

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Trancos // Jul 10, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    nice post! something your friend missed if he really works in the mobile group is that Microsoft makes more money with Android phones (due to patents) than selling its own mobile OS.

  • 2 Eileen // Jul 19, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    You are absolutely right. I have a friend working at MSFT who refuses to ever buy Android or Apple device. 

  • 3 Ann Onymous // Jul 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    “Well, you're right, but we're Microsoft. We'll fight and get there.”

    Nope. No you won't. Because that's not where Microsoft goes. Two reasons:

    1. See, MS's success was built on NOT having to worry about the individual consumer. Their first big successes were in the business/enterprise arena, where once you sold the IT dept. and the CIO on your product, the end-users were stuck with that product, whether they loved it or hated it. Even in the personal arena, where, for most people, the only choices they understood were Mac or PC, once you picked a PC, you just weren't likely to change, and so you bought MS products only because that's what you knew. So, in a somewhat paradoxical state, the consumer was a peripheral component of the equation. However, that's changed, dramatically, and MS has demonstrated a complete lack of ability to adapt to that change, in large part because…

    2. MS believes that it represents/reflects the consumer. In other words, and this is really just human nature, MS employees think that what they want is what most people want. Given the arrogance that is rampant at MS, this is EXTREMELY paradoxical, and perhaps it's more accurate to say that they believe that what they want is what most people SHOULD want, and if they don't want it, then they're just stupid and don't deserve MS products anyway. Yeah, that's probably a more accurate assesment. Regardless, though, the core perception that, “if we like it internally, the'll LOVE it externally,” pervades MS, despite all of the market evidence to the contrary.

    So, if MS wanted to head for the consumer market, it's quite possible that they could do so successfully, but one of the problems is that they truly don't understand the need to do so. How do I know this? Former FTE for 10+ years, now a vendor who would NEVER go back to being an FTE there. My career there ended not because I got laid off (and, in fact, I should have been – I was kept on by a career/politically minded mid-manager who fought to keep everyone on his team not because he cared about them or thought that they were needed, but because he knew more head count made you more important to upper management) in very large part because I couldn't drink the kool-aid. It's amazing to me now to see MS bragging about hiring people who are telling them what they've been doing wrong for the last ten or twelve years  – when I tried to communicate those same points, I was told I had a bad attitude.

    Your friend, on the other hand, will succeed and thrive. Good for him.

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