Mini-Microsoft has gone on sabbatical (although not really) and Robert Scoble has left for a startup. Who is left around to carry the torch...? Well, let me take a moment, walk a few blocks and hold it up.
Today's announcement by Bill Gates was all about making a safe, zero risk, predictable move.
During the press conference every Microsoft employee got an email today from Steve Ballmer. Unfortunately, I read it after reading Guy Kawasaki's The Top Sixteen Lies of CEOs and quite frankly Steve's words ring hollow. I think Steve has good intentions -- but the stock price is speaking way louder at the moment. I also think he has PR folks helping him a bit too much.
Friendly piece of advice for him: Steve, stop by any cafeteria in any given building each day and each lunch with a group of 3 or 4 Joe or Jane Microsofties and engage them in conversation. If you do, people will begin to believe in the magic again.
Anywho, here are the sort of announcements which would have made a favorable impression on me...
1) BillG is coming back full time to lead us through the current / next round of competitive pressures.
Let's face it, Sergey and Larry probably smell blood in the water right now. I'm not sure the competitive tenacity, desire or hunger to win is present in the resultant executive team lineup announced today (nothing really changed now, or in two years: it's still status quo). It's clearly in Bill's DNA to compete -- and we need that now more than ever.
2) J Allard has assumed the role of Chief Software Architect.
Please, please -- anyone closer to 40 as a CxO would be nice. Do the math on the average age of our executive team and cringe. Yes, with age comes wisdom -- but sometimes a tendency to think you've got it all figured out (I'm learning this on a nearly daily basis these days). IBM never planned to be supplanted by the young, upstart Microsoft.
3) Microsoft will be broken up into multiple companies.
It doesn't matter how you slice or dice it -- any company with 70,000 employees is going to have way more chiefs than indians. Don't split it as the courts wanted to with Windows as one company and Office as another. Split it up into granular pieces with the explicit goal of having them compete with each other. Fork the code after we ship Windows Vista and carve out competitive landscapes (where the Windows designed for small businesses can start chipping away at the Windows designed for medium sized businesses, and vice versa, as but one example). Instead of acquisitions, let's have some spinoffs.
4) Windows Vista will be available for Holiday 2006.
Yeah, I know, this one is a long shot. But this kind of 'all hands on deck' whereby the entire company is invested in accelerating (not delaying) the shipment of Windows Vista could be catalyzing. Getting everyone to drop everything for the next month and concentrate on nothing but Windows Vista would send a clear message we mean business.
So where does all of this leave me professionally...?
Honestly, I'm not really sure at the moment. I'm pretty sure I'm still going to stick around. I believe there is still enough time and strength to pull us out of the morass, turn the ship around and head us in the right direction.
Of this I'm sure: If it's to be, it has to start with me.