Sunday, May 07, 2006

Acronyms Attack! That FAQ, the Upcoming FAM, Transparent CSPs, and SPSA Goals

(I guess this is the acronym post... FAQ, FAM, CSP, and SPSA all in one place!)

Well, that FAQ struck a nerve in the comment world. The comment stream is worth taking a scan if you have a strong belief system about what it takes to succeed at Microsoft (or similar company) and want to add to the conversation. The reactions ranged from pathetic to masterpiece. My comment in the post about why I posted it in the first place:

I don't agree with the spirit of the FAQ but I can begrudgingly accept that it works. Is it wrong to reveal the perspective? Is it wrong to perpetuate that? By showing that it is "a way" to succeed that just burns your biscuits does it motivate you, whether you work at Microsoft or some other company where this is true, to try to fix it?

The FAQ is, in my opinion, highly relevant to the team members / individual contributors of the world trying to figure out how to be recognized and rewarded. Maybe it's the path to the dark side. If so, what is the other path? Does it work as well or better?

A commenter from Saturday morning that slapped the FAQ and me up and down:

This "FAQ" should be called "FAQ for no talent bottom feeders." It's pathetic. Thank god my my group is most excellent and our bottom feeding, do noting chip on their shoulder inefectual boat anchors have all been eliminated. Yeah the curve sucks. Deal with it. Wha wha wha. Mini, you should be ashamed, this is not how you make MSFT leaner and better. The loser who wrote this is the same kind of people you advoacte firing. Don't be a hypocrite and post their drivel.

I'm not ashamed.

I believe playing the system is a problem and both the system and the players need to be corrected. I'd much rather have people focused on doing a great job and getting rewarded justly to their individual merits and never even have to think of demoralizing atrocities like The Curve or Stack Ranking or, "Golly, what do I have to do to get me one of them Gold Stars?" And you know what, a lot of people do just focus on doing a great job! Some of the most successful people I've had the privilege to work with just come in and work well and hard, having a strong sense of self and knowing their own good work is accomplishment enough.

But other employees - I think understandably - invest great trust and respect in their leadership and authority and they see this investment of trust and respect returned to them come review and feedback time. And the system as it is today has built-in disappointment for those people. I want to change the system. In the meantime, such a disillusioned person finds they need to change themselves because The Curve does not respect you and doesn't care for your investment of trust and respect.

One change is to play the system, another is to build a stronger sense of self and ignore the system, and I'm sure there are other paths.

Do all managers recognize when their reports are playing the system and focused on the system vs. doing just doing a great job? Sadly, I have to admit, I've been played. If I'd seen a write-up like this, would I have been more savvy and have put that person on a more productive career path (vs. burning bridges to play career-advance ladder hoping... too bad we have so many bridges that you can burn through quite a few and it doesn't matter)? I'd like to think I would have done a better job.

Change the system. Recognize the system-players. Correct them, if not move them on.

Let's say you walk into your office one morning. You reflect on your team before going through the morning email and have the realization that one of your reports (who perhaps has done a good job making you feel like an excellent manager) was in fact playing the system like this FAQ calls out. Or worse.

WWMMD? Fire them if confrontational career mentoring was too late.

What would you do?


Elsewhere...

FAM: I am thinking and hoping that this July's Financial Analysts Meeting at Microsoft might shape into an honest, hard discussion devoid of sunshine and rainbows but rather full of hard realities with accountability and a commitment to performance thrown in. I know, I know... my FAM hopes for an analyst uprising are a bit like Linus van Pelt and the Great Pumpkin. In Friday's article TechWeek The Trouble With Being Microsoft, the following observation is made:

[...] But investors are running out of patience with the company, and it had better show some results -- or at least convince investors that good results are coming before too long.

"I'm going to give Microsoft a few more quarters," says Daniel Morgan, portfolio manager for Synovus Investment Advisors. Asked why he can't a bit more patient, Morgan spoke for many hard-pressed managers, saying: "I'm judged on my results and I've been in this stock for a long time."

Judged on his results. Hmm... perhaps even held accountable? The unfortunate thing is that there's a lot of time between the reality shaking surprise of FY06Q3 and the FAM. Lots of time for Jedi mind tricks on a crowd that probably is quite willing to continue to hear that all is well, they are doing a good job sticking with Microsoft, and that the product pipeline of plenty is about to gush forth with great results. I'll sit in my pumpkin patch in the meantime, waiting for the analyst uprising. I have faith.

Transparency: I'm still thinking about this one:

Hey Mini, you should take a look at the new CSPs over here in Office that will be applied to the rest of the company over time. Now that we all have titles that let you know within a level or two where someone's at, we see that Dev & PM are generally two levels higher than test. Hmm.. interesting.

Do you know someone in Office? Well, look them up in the Outlook address book. Their title pretty much shows directly what their Career Stage Profile is, which is a rough bucketing of their level. Wow. And, why yes, you can find out who the partners are (though you'd probably better off using the *trax program vs. clicking around all day in Outlook hunting). Offhand, I think this is good and I don't know why only Office is engaging in this. It is coming to the rest of Microsoft? When? Curious.

It's a reality check and perhaps a way to start holding folks accountable for the results they should be delivering at their level. This certainly seems like a step in the right direction. If your group did this, what would it mean to you?

Shared Performance Stock Award program: regarding such Partners as the Office ones and elsewhere in the company, the following comment comes up on the SPSA Partner-focused award coming up:

Its times like these that its GREAT to be a Partner!!!

Can't wait till August when my first slug of SPSA stock comes due! I get $1m in this round because we met all of our targets that we set out to meet three years ago when this program started!

Seriously though... This place sucks at time. The above is true, BUT it sure doesn't feel right.

An ex-Partner's reaction:

[I wish that Ballmer] would set your SPSA multiplier to 1% and screw you all. The company has missed all reasonable expectations of targets these past three years. To claim otherwise is a crime! So, do I think a crime will be committed this August? You bet! I know for fact that Microsoft is going to claim to have met the SPSA target metrics and will reward the partners with 100% allocations. Those of you on the inside can check for yourselves...

From the 2005 Microsoft Proxy statement talking about SPSA:

The Compensation Committee will determine the final percentage in the exercise of its discretion. The Committee may amend the program to take into account significant changes in business or business strategy.

I would like to see shared with the employees and shareholders just what the goals are and how well the goals have been met. All we have is something like:

The SPSA program is designed to focus our top leaders on shared business goals to guide our long term growth and address our biggest challenges by rewarding participants based on growth in customer satisfaction, unit volumes of our Windows products and usage of our development tools, and desktop application deployment over a multi-year performance period. Metrics were developed to measure performance in each of these areas. For the Named Executive Officers, the performance period is the two-and-one-half year period ending June 30, 2006.

Doesn't the senior leadership believe, if they want to build trust between the employees and executive leadership, that this would be a key foundation of that trust? We've got folks not making cost of living and our stock just took a huge hit because we surprised Wall Street (even I know: surprise bad.). Products slip and no-one is being held publicly accountable. We're distracted... chasing the tail-lights of Google, Yahoo, and Apple like a dim rural dog that goes rabid over the scent of other people's money. And the L68+ employees are potentially about to be lavishly rewarded for all of this.

Share the goals, because perhaps I'm a dim dog, too, and perhaps the more I know the more I can understand there's more to Microsoft's business than what I'm yapping about. Share the specific SPSA goals and explain why leadership has met or exceeded them. I'd even like the employees to rate leadership on those goals, not the Compensation Committee. You see, as of now, I believe there is room for improvement. And senior leadership damn well better not expect us to tighten our belts and enjoy another serving of weenies while the same leadership loads their plate up with shrimp.

And you know, I'm okay with weenies. I've developed a taste for weenies. Just not of the leadership sort.

In the meantime, start thinking of what kind of casual questions you can ask your Partners come September regarding how they are going to enjoy their SPSA grant. Maybe come September 15th, when your new pay raise, if any, is in effect.


188 comments:

Anonymous said...

Call me cynical, but in the last six years, it seems like Microsoft has been run by an insurance salesman devoid of technical knowledge or ability. Sometimes it seems like this insurance salesman has filled the management ranks with others like him who have no business running a technical organization. It's interesting how much things have changed since Ballmer took over. The culture, the compensation, the stock performance...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Alfie Kohn link!

We're told to make others look great; and that is cooperation. But what's my incentive for making my peers' work easier if at the end we're on the same bell curve and suddenly competition?

Anonymous said...

CSP & job titles in the GAL for the Office people ain't such a new thing - this has been the standard in Services for years... from my experience, it doesn't really add any value. what benefits would it bring to the rest of the org?

Anonymous said...

"We've got folks not making cost of living and our stock just took a huge hit because we surprised Wall Street (even I know: surprise bad.). Products slip and no-one is being held publicly accountable. We're distracted... chasing the tail-lights of Google, Yahoo, and Apple like a dim rural dog that goes rabid over the scent of other people's money. And the L68+ employees are potentially about to be lavishly rewarded for all of this."

Yup, that sums it up nicely. And then add a stock that has underperformed the market every year for the past 3 years which this SPSA covers, for a total underperformance of 60%. Now obviously there will be times when the company performs and for whatever reason the stock doesn't. And during those periods, it's reasonable to still bonus stellar performance. However, as you point out, the past 3 years have seen some of the biggest fuckups and missed opportunities in MSFT's entire 30 year history, not to mention the slowest rate of growth, the most negative press and a stock that as a result, has been compeletely dormant or as the media likes to report "moribund". Paying out $100M's in bonuses to this group of folks despite that 3 year long track record, shows that the SPSA criteria were obviously hugely flawed and is horrible optics in light of that result and the recent tankage based on poor guidance. Indeed, a huge step towards rebuilding some credibility with investors and the street, would be to curtail that expected payout in light of this inability to drive results for owners. Failing that (which guranteed won't happen), it would be nice to see the partners opt to share some of that unearned largess with the regular rank and file who, like shareholders, have been negatively impacted by the collective inability of this group to spot opportunities, develop winning strategies and execute at a high level - in other words, do what they're already getting highly paid to accomplish. WRT publishing the criteria, I'm not sure I agree. First of all, some obviously should be confidential so as to avoid tipping your hand to competitors. Second, if we need them to be published because we don't trust Steve et al to craft proper ones in confidence (which btw I don't) then the solution is fire Steve et al - something that imo is long overdue. Finally, the stock's performance or lack thereof should have a huge influence over the total pot available. In other words, if everyone did what they should have over the past 3 years but the stock - as it has - grossly underperformed regardless, then that should automatically cut the total available pot by a huge factor. After all, if owners aren't making money - which they're not and haven't for 8 years - then everyone should expect to share the pain no matter how great a job they think they've done. As it is, there's an apparent disconnect with some employees posting comments here like "just deal with it" when talking about the stock's lack of performance -as if having a company that is unable to reward its owner's for YEARS is just a nuisance factor vs going to the heart of ongoing viability. Bottom line, pay should be for performance vs promises of same and that performance should be directly connected to driving value for shareholders - which is the core mandate of the executive officers of a public company.

Anonymous said...

People are complaining about the middle management and they are right. There is a good reason for the dead wood to accumulate there, just think about how company pays these days.

L59-L63 at least have some insensitive to work harder: you can get promoted and start receiving bigger paychecks. If you don't perform and you are at L62 or below, you will be managed out. If you are L67 you may attempt to become a partner.

However, L64-L66: dev lead, dev manager, architect, PUM of a small team have almost no reason to work harder. They are not getting any significant stock awards and probability of promotion becomes smaller and smaller as you get to L64+. After all, there are only that many architect of dev manager positions available. Salary is OK, but not large enough to save enough and retire early. Per career model growth in level is not required at L64+. So the best idea for the MM is to coast along 9-5, doing just enough to make to 3.5, while funding 401(k) and other retirement accounts. Take risks, explore bold, innovative ideas? What's the point? Failure may lead to a bad review reducing chances of promotion even further. Success will not turn into more money as the best you can get is 15% bonus and that is before taxes. Work more and get burned out without getting anything in return? Thanks, but MM needs to remain sane for many years until retirement at 60 or so.

It is sad to see how current pay system is not stimulating people that could make a difference.

Anonymous said...

"If you don't perform and you are at L62 or below, you will be managed out"

This means both counts of a) you really being a bad performer and b) when you are simply targetted.

Of course the real story that is portrayed is A but the people impacted by B never have a chance (less you have the support outside of your local insestuation of a group.

Has there been anyone managed out able to make it back in?

Anonymous said...

Following up on that Street article, Business Week has one: Mixed Signals From Microsoft. An interesting bit:

In hindsight, Microsoft concedes its misstep. "We could have communicated this better," says spokesman Larry Cohen... But until the spending details are clear, the shares are likely to drift. "This stock will test your patience in the short run and even the medium run," says HighMark's Lowenstein.

Things are looking flat for a while folks...and for those that like pictures to visualize two years of flat:

MSFT vs. AAPL

MSFT vs. GOOG

Anonymous said...

Re: transparency

I'm so glad they're finally doing this! Now when someone in another group is ignoring me, or some flame war is dragging on, or someone isn't giving me an answer I like, I can just look them up and see if I'm talking to someone important. Likewise when someone from another team pesters me with a question... just a quick glance at the address book... oh, you're only an SDE, not an SDE2? See ya!

Now, if they'd just integrate the address book with inbox rules a little better, I could make sure to route email from anyone with a certain title or below into my trash...

Anonymous said...

I have read several posts and some comments here. Would like to make a few points:
a. Some commenter said it better: love is for your family and friends and the work you do. Companies are in business to make money for their shareholders. These are not entities meant to be loved.
b. We still have a free market. If you do not like your job, get a different job. If your manager is an idiot, change your job and make sure you pick a team where you maanger is not an idiot. If you do not like how much you get paid, go find a higher paying job. If you do not like the review system at Microsoft, go find a company which has a review system that is more palatable to you. Nobody promised you that life will be fair. It is up to you to make the best out of it.
c. Having worked in the tech industry for a while, I have come to realize one thing. The industry has not been around long enough where the leaders understand the need to build rock solid institutions, that are bigger than themselves. The cult of personality and clickes exist all across the tech landscape. Look at Apple, Oracle, Google or any other company.
d. As much as I hate the fact that we have not done much for our shareholder, I still see progress. The company will be generating 5B new revenue. May not be enough to move our share price but it is not an easy achievement.

There are lots of good insight and comments in this blog and most people I must say are good intentioned. Just do not expect life and especially life in the business world to be fair.

Anonymous said...

Share the specific SPSA goals and explain why leadership has met or exceeded them.

The SPSA goals set three years ago had NOTHING to do with Vista. The goals were focused on 3 things:

1) Increased Customer Satisfaction with Microsoft Products

2) Increased adoption of the Developer Platform

3) Increased adoption of Office 11

We absolutely met/exceeded all of our goals set in these areas. Our customer satisfaction goals have been met, and in fact, we have exceeded our expectations by a wide margin. The .NET developer platform, including the recent Whidbey updates have been well received by our customers. Office 11 has definitely met its targets.

You folks on this blog are being very narrow minded. Sure, Vista has had some execution problems, BUT shipping Vista, executing on innovation, out Googling google, etc. were never criteria for SPSA awards. As such, failures in those areas CAN NOT and SHOULD NOT penalize or negatively impact the SPSA award multiplier. Based on the target goals and our progress against those goals, our SPSA Awards should track to 125% - 150%.

I am sure some of you will whine that this "is not fair", BUT you are just plain wrong. Three years ago, in a room with over 800 partners, Bill and Steve discussed the details of the program with all of us and established the reward criteria. Three years ago, when this measurement period began, there was no doubt that the Vista Wave, the Integrated Innovation wave, would be a smashing success. That was a given. What Steve and Bill were much more concerned about was our ability to increase our measured customer satisfaction numbers, increase the adoption of .NET, and increase the global deployment of Office 11. The deal was very simple. Meet the goals and get 100% of the reward amount. Beat the goals and get up to 150%. Miss the goals and get no less than 50%.

We beat the goals and are therefore due a sizeable reward.

Moving forward, moving into the next measurement period, partners will receive a new set of SPSA grants tied to a new set of goals that are measured over a three year period. I am sure that in this next measurement period, some of our goals will related to execution efficiency, vista adoption, etc. There is no doubt in my mind, that when given these goals, we will blow away the goals and in exchange, will be fairly rewarded.

You have to accept the fact that this program, to some extent is backwards looking. There is a three year measurement period where goals are established at time t0 and we focus on those goals for three years and our progress towards those goals determines our reward. The obvious problem with this approach is that sometimes, whats important to us at time t0 is no longer the most important thing at t1, t2, or t3. We knew going in that this was a risk, and clearly, this year, we are in a situation where the things most important to us as a company 3 years ago don't seem to be top of mind today, BUT that does not mean the program or goals are invalid. It was a known issue going in, and was something we conciously choose to accept.

The sad truth that you whining underachievers have to accept is that we were given a compensation package tied to aggressive and important goals. We worked very hard for three years to meet the performance goals tied to that package. We blew away the targets and now we DESERVE to be paid what was promised to us. I know it sucks to hear this, but you need to learn to deal with reality here. This was the deal that we accepted and it would be grossly unfair, and frankly would be illegal, for Microsoft or the Compensation comittee to all of a sudden just change the rules and shaft us.

Anonymous said...

We're distracted... chasing the tail-lights of Google, Yahoo, and Apple

I think it goes right back to the beginning of the IBM PC and MS-DOS, when Microsoft's reaction to Lotus 1-2-3 was allegedly "DOS ain't done, till Lotus won't run", or words to that effect.

I see Microsoft now - in the light of Google and Apple in particular - more as chasing headlights than tail-lights. Getting too aggressive will bring on the DOJ; not being aggressive will mean giving up an option. Charging straight at it like a CEO with a loose chair and throwing money at possible "solutions" - you'll either run into the DOJ or run out of money.

Dogs that chase headlights - whether they be mangy rural mongrels or sleek city thoroughbreds - don't have a long life expectancy.

But what would I know, I'm merely

Yours Eponymously
Epon

Who da'Punk said...

We worked very hard for three years to meet the performance goals tied to that package. We blew away the targets and now we DESERVE to be paid what was promised to us.

Thanks for sharing your side and perspective on SPSA. I know more already... in all sorts of ways.

Mini.

Anonymous said...

This was the deal that we accepted and it would be grossly unfair, and frankly would be illegal, for Microsoft or the Compensation comittee to all of a sudden just change the rules and shaft us.

Aw, I'd hate for the game to change on you. It was OK when our February bonuses were taken away and our levels got changed to allow "more promotions" (pure BS there!) ...

Amazing that Bill and Steve weren't able to plan S.M.A.R.T. goals for you 800 partners ... also amazing that all 800 of you pulled off those three goals without any help from the rest of us -- I'm sure each and every one of you personally made Office 11 sell.

This is my last week at MS. After reading this crap, I might just cash in those remaining vacation days early ...

Anonymous said...

>The obvious problem with this approach is that sometimes, whats important to us at time t0 is no longer the most important thing at t1, t2, or t3. We knew going in that this was a risk, and clearly, this year, we are in a situation where the things most important to us as a company 3 years ago don't seem to be top of mind today, BUT that does not mean the program or goals are invalid.

To summarize, you're saying you're happy to shaft the company by pursuing goals you know are outdated solely to line your own pockets?

Truly, you are beneath contempt.

Anonymous said...

There has been lot of talk abt lader leves, promotions and stuff.
I want to ask a question, being a SDET, I have seen test leads juming to be a dev IC, test managers moving on to become PMs.... Is there some inherent problem with the system here at the top? Something that is only apparent at the top? Will people throw some light about all this so that I can take an informed decision now rather than 5 years later! Is the growth for test closed after being a test manger? How many PUMs have riseb from the test lafdder? Can we know?

Please consider making this a separate post if you think it deserves so. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

We're told to make others look great

You are supposed to make those 800 partners look great and fight for scraps for your fair share like the FAQ says. Once you have enough crap on your noses and blood on your hands you will be a worthy partner.

Anonymous said...

The sad truth that you whining underachievers have to accept is that we were given a compensation package tied to aggressive and important goals.

You just know this guy watches the Alec Baldwin scene from "Glengarry Glen Ross" over and over again. Undoubtedly he finds it inspirational and life affirming. But you still don't get the point of it, do you, Mr. Partner?

Anonymous said...

We beat the goals and are therefore due a sizeable reward.

Did you do it single-handed or maybe thousands of developers helped you by any chance? Don't they deserve some share of the reward? I'd like to hear an explanation why you deserve the award and I don't deserve cost of living adjustment. My review scores are very decent as is my level. I have been with the company for quite some time. I am not a whiner or underperformer.

Interesting that this partner program has never been advertised much. Why is that? Are you afraid that those in the trenches won't like it? sounds like you are afraid... Maybe you should send an e-mail to your reports (provided you have them) and explain why you are so much better than them. How's about that?

Now, don't you feel that goals could have been wrong? What do you do when your reports are working towards incorrect goals? Are you keeping the goals or are you changing them?

butthead said...

The sad truth that you whining underachievers have to accept is that we were given a compensation package tied to aggressive and important goals

I bet you are drooling over the prospects

Anonymous said...

You focussed on the transparency aspect of the new CSPs. One other point to note is that it also adds a system whereby ICs can be leveled up past the 62-63 range. It is my personal belief that this was added to counteract the stagnant middle-management in Office. We've got leads who have been being shifted around for 5-10 years at the same level, blocking upward progress. As a result, there are ICs who have been stuck at low levels for years. (Just look at trax, the evidence is there now.) This added headroom could be a good thing, maybe the man will even consider repealing the ban on off-cycle promos.

Anonymous said...

"The SPSA goals set three years ago had NOTHING to do with Vista"

You say that this is because they knew Vista would be a "smashing success".
I say it's because they knew then that Vista wouldn't be out the door by the end of this 3 year period. I find that very interesting. How many shares of MS stock did senior management dump around the time these goals were set? Sure would be interesting to research that...

"The deal was very simple. Meet the goals and get 100% of the reward amount. Beat the goals and get up to 150%. Miss the goals and get no less than 50%."

Holy crap...I really hope that's not true. Meet the goals, here's a big fat wad of cash. Beat the goals, here's an even bigger wad. Miss the goals...well, darn it, I guess it's not your fault...it's the fault of those slackers that work for you. So take this smaller wad of cash and try to do better next time. But if you don't, there will still be a wad of cash waiting for you. WTF?????

As for improving customer sat numbers, that all depends on the group. Some are up, others are down (at least according to some numbers I saw about 2 months ago). More importantly, customer DIS-sat numbers are up in many areas. But I guess nobody really cares about those numbers. Sigh...

Anonymous said...

"You folks on this blog are being very narrow minded."

And the three goals you listed here AREN'T narrow minded? I have a hard time believing that those are the goals that exist for all of the partners. I have personally known partners who actually hurt Office 11 adoption and who said "not my issue, I only care about x-thing".

3 year long goals?!?!?!?! In Microsoft that is a guarantee to be totally irrelevant. I wish that Bill or Steve were held to those time frames. Bottom line is that these goals are so narrow minded, and at least one of them (Customer Sat) is based on polls where folks of your tenure and level craft the questions, engineered to always be positive, they make no sense.

No...you sir are a nightmare. It's EXACTLY this type of corporate payola scheme that Mini wants to make TRANSPARENT and weed out. Your characterization of the people on this blog as underacheivers is DEAD WRONG. We're just people who are noting a MASSIVE discrepancy between your level and those just a few below you. It's equivalent to the difference between middle class America and migrant strawberry pickers...and it's wrong.

Anonymous said...

The comment from the partner on why he/she "deserves" their SPSA is beyond belief and left me speechless. Something is very, very broken here. Lisa, where are you?

Anonymous said...

To summarize, you're saying you're happy to shaft the company by pursuing goals you know are outdated solely to line your own pockets?

You know, before the SPSA program was rolled out, there was a several month period where several proposed changes to comp were discussed. Several issues were raised (and dismissed) on this point alone. I was personally worried that Microsoft would not be able to stick to a goal set three years ago. We tend to not be very good about three year plans so I was worried about that here as well.

I honestly don't think getting paid is "shafting" the company. I didn't come up with this program, and in fact I was against several of its key attributes. The program was passed and instituted. As a partner, I am included in the program and feel that I did my part and that YES, I DESERVE to be paid.

Anonymous said...

We've got folks not making cost of living and our stock just took a huge hit because we surprised Wall Street (even I know: surprise bad.).

This fumble cost me $60K. [Oopsie.... Math is hard! Leadership can learn from this!]

Of course, for Mr Ballmer, this was 'Coinstar' change; a rounding error.
From my perspective this is fudiciary negligence, circa Enron. Way to go, Ballmer!
I see a shareholder lawsuit in your future.

StS said...

So shipping Vista was considered a slam dunk and not measured as part of SPSA.

Interesting. Says a lot. Thanks for that information.

c said...

The SPSA goals set three years ago [...]
1) Increased Customer Satisfaction with Microsoft Products

2) Increased adoption of the Developer Platform

3) Increased adoption of Office 11

We worked very hard for three years to meet the performance goals tied to that package

And what, precisely, did you do over the last three years to meet those goals? Office 2003 shipped three years ago. Customers adopt Office 2003 or don't adopt based on what we shipped, and I'm hard pressed to think of what we've done post-ship (during your "hard work") to really drive adoption. And "increased adoption of the developer platform" - hmm, VS 2003 shipped before this period started, and Whidbey just barely squeezed out the door. Nope, SPSA can't be rewarding any of that.

So, it seems like you're just lining up to collect your millions of dollars in bonuses based on the work that happened three to six years ago, when it was some other set of chumps in charge. Based on the quality and features designed and implemented by the peon PMs and devs, and validated by the peon testers. But I guess it was the partners who enabled all of this, grinding through security reviews and fixing prefix warnings. So gosh, I can see how we're richly rewarding the right people. Good work MSFT.

Unless it's the dinosaur ads. Your millions of bonus dollars of "driving adoption" and satisfaction are based on the customer delight from the dinosaur ads! Great job!!

Anonymous said...

Fine, let the partners have their SPSA payout if the goals were met. That's fair.

BUT - we better see some accountability for the Vista fiasco, and soon.

Otherwise those of us who aren't yet totally disillusioned are going to finally throw in the towel and start looking for greener pastures.

M Son said...

I am not a MSFT employee, I am a customer, a shareholder, and just your average citizen.

I'd like to say that many of you posters come off as lousy, whiney employees with a terrible perspective on life. You seem to have a sense of entitlement, that you deserve to be a millionaire, that it is MSFT's responsibility to make you a happy and successful in life. It seems that you are little different from the stereotypical welfare recipient - just a bit more educated and intelligent.

You are responsible for your own happiness, satisfaction, and financial circumstances. MSFT provides much more generous pay and benefits than almost all other organizations - let alone in its own sector. If you feel that you are entitled to more - you should switch employers or you should start your own company and run things your own opinionated ways and see how successful you are. And actually - there were plenty who did this (.bombs). The reason you are still at MSFT is that you you cannot find a better opportunity elsewhere. If you think GOOG or AAPL is run better - go apply there (I doubt they would take many of you).

I would like to say that constructive criticism is great. For example, the complaints on the review process seem legitimate and should be pointed out and addressed. MSFT is a huge organization and it seems they are listening to your input and trying to grow and improve things. I'm sure there are other faults within MSFT as well. It seems that MSFT is receptive to criticism - which is a great attitude for an organization to have.

As a shareholder, I'm a bit disappointed by MSFTs stock valuation, but I believe in the company, its employees (the non-whiney ones), and its future strategy. I think it is undervalued and continue to accumulate shares.

As a customer, I'm very pleased with MSFT products - they continue to improve Visual Studio, the Office Products, and the OSs. MSFT had horrible security a few years ago, they listened to their consumers and improved the security of their products and continue to make strides in usability and security.

As a citizen, I am thorougly impressed with B and M Gates. They have done more good through their charitable works than anyone else in recent history. Actually - I think B Gates is my personal hero. He doesn't show off his wealth and live like an a$$hole like L Ellison. He applies his work ethic and intelligence in giving back to the world. I'm not sure if it is part of MSFTs marketing strategy, but I'm happy to add to MSFT's coffers in light of the good works done by the Gates.

You employees who post here should be thankful to work at an organization like MSFT. You should appreciate all the things your employer provides for you. You should continue to criticize inefficient and/or unfair policies, but you should make those criticisms an opportunity for growth or change not an opportunity to whine.

MSDecade said...

Wow. I'm trying to decide whether that was a competitor's troll, or really a self-important partner. If a troll, nice job -- touche. But I suspect it was the latter.

Remember when I said I chose this nickname because I expected to be at MS for a decade? This post single-handedly changed my mind. I'm going to send out my resume.

It proves the old adage -- you get what you measure, nothing more. Three-year old goals that don't respond to change. Million dollar payouts while the rest of us -- the ones that support the partners, get -- well, let's just say that we don't have the same choice to risk a portion of our comp for a reward like that.

Again, if you're a competitor, well done. If you're a partner, I want you fired for posting confidential data (SPSA criteria). Then I want your award to be spread evenly across my team.

You know, it's funny. ChrisJo says he's passing on his bonus. I guess it's not that much of a gesture considering that the SPSA portion of his paycheck will greatly overshadow any potential bonus.

Anonymous said...

"The sad truth that you whining underachievers have to accept..."

I've been knocking about these walls since 1989, with a brief break on my own in the mid-90s. The sad truth is that MS has changed dramatically -- and the key way it has changed is in the mindset of "leaders" like this.

It has become an Us and Them corporation, just like all other big, fat, slow, and moribund corporations.

Too bad. Microsoft used to be just US. I had a meeting with Ballmer back in the early 90s, and he was respectful, attentive, and willing to listen. I came away quite impressed. Other high level managers behaved the same, leastways, so far as I could tell.

The Microsoft I joined was tough but fair. If you worked hard, gave value to the company, and played by the rules, you were rewarded. Some got better rewards than others, but EVERYONE who contributed shared in the rewards.

Now if you point that FACT out, and if you note that the reward system has grown awfully meager, then you're considered an underachieving whiner by upper mgmt. Thank you very much for the clarity from your mighty perspective on high.

It reminds me of another favorite management quote from a previous job, "now go back to your productive little lives."

Anonymous said...

And the three goals you listed here AREN'T narrow minded? I have a hard time believing that those are the goals that exist for all of the partners. I have personally known partners who actually hurt Office 11 adoption and who said "not my issue, I only care about x-thing".


Don't start blaming the messenger. You guys want transparency, I took a huge risk and posted you details of the program. Those are the goals. Don't believe me? Ask any partner, shoot, line them all up and ask them all. This is the deal.

There are measurable metrics associated with each one. The program details were debated at length. Here we are at the end of the program and yes, we BEAT THOSE GOALS. So YES, the compensation package Microsoft committed to that is tied to those goals MUST be paid.

You want to whine about the program, then I would suggest raising the issue with your CEO, your CSA, and CFO, etc. This program was not invented by the partners. Stop trying to blame is for its "unfairness".

This program was invented at the very top of this company. It was a program designed to re-vamp our compensation package, to tie the reward system to measurable goals that are aligned with initiatives the company wants to focus on in three year chunks. Remember, the old program was just plain old stock options. Sure, the options were large, but you could have a situation where the company failed to meet its goals and the option recipients still made a bunch of money, OR worse, in the case like we have seen these past three years, the company met/exceeded its goals and the recipients didn't make a cent.


3 year long goals?!?!?!?! In Microsoft that is a guarantee to be totally irrelevant.


Again, the issues, pros/cons were debated at length. Several people brought up this exact issue, BUT the comp comittee decided the benefits of comp tied to long term company goals trumped all. Honestly, what would you do otherwise? I think at an abstract level, setting a goal and binding comp to that goal is the right approach. I think the real issue in this case is the things that were important to us in 2003 are different than the issues/crisis we face today.

No...you sir are a nightmare. It's EXACTLY this type of corporate payola scheme that Mini wants to make TRANSPARENT and weed out.


Ummm... So you would rather I hide behind the SPSA program rather than contribute details for all to read? You wanted it transparent, so here you are. Its not pretty, but at least now you have some details. Can't get more transparent than that.


We're just people who are noting a MASSIVE discrepancy between your level and those just a few below you.


Don't you think there is always going to be a level where things are a little bit different? Jeeze, Steve has a bigger office than I do. How is that fair? Richard has a window office and I have an inside office. How is that fair? Brian has a corner office and I have a regular window office. How is that fair? Seniority, skills, luck, timing, etc. are all factors in where you end up in the grand scheme of things. There is an arbitrary line at L68 where those >= are called "partners" and those below are not. In the pre-partner days the same lines existed. For instance, an D12 developer might have been eligible to recive 4800 shares of options, while a D13 was eligible for 9600 and a D14 eligible for 15,000. How is that "fair"? Thats what the old days were like, someone one notch above you could receive TWICE the options that you received.

What I am trying to say is that there has always been a sliding scale here where at the upper levels, whien Microsoft is running very well, it was a very lucrative deal. You guys are uptight right now for ONE REASON. In the old days, when things were going well and the stack was doubling every year, you made out well and didn't really get bothered by the fact that the senior folks made out VERY VERY well. When you cashed out $100k worth of stock, they were selling $2m worth.

Now, the problem is that Microsoft has moved to SA's instead of options. You are still getting your garunteed SA award and so are the senior leaders of this company. Like the old days, their awards are more than yours. Nothing has changed, its just that now, you think its "not fair".

It's equivalent to the difference between middle class America and migrant strawberry pickers...and it's wrong.

And what EXACTLY would you do differently? Pay everyone the same wage? Lessen the gap? You think this is a problem unique to Microsoft/ You seem to be whining about capitalism in general. Maybe you are in the wrong profession? Have you thought about a career in politics or economics? Give it a shot. Next, maybe you will start complaining that its not fair that computer scientists earn more $$ than 11th grade econ teachers?

Anonymous said...

However, L64-L66: dev lead, dev manager, architect, PUM of a small team have almost no reason to work harder. They are not getting any significant stock awards and probability of promotion becomes smaller and smaller as you get to L64+. After all, there are only that many architect of dev manager positions available. Salary is OK, but not large enough to save enough and retire early. Per career model growth in level is not required at L64+. So the best idea for the MM is to coast along 9-5, doing just enough to make to 3.5, while funding 401(k) and other retirement accounts. Take risks, explore bold, innovative ideas? What's the point? Failure may lead to a bad review reducing chances of promotion even further. Success will not turn into more money as the best you can get is 15% bonus and that is before taxes. Work more and get burned out without getting anything in return? Thanks, but MM needs to remain sane for many years until retirement at 60 or so.

Truer words have never been spoken. And it's funny because the people in this position have probably excelled for quite some time at Microsoft. Like me, they've probably noticed that a great deal of effort and personal sacrifice yields a 4.0 or a 4.5, which results in...a 10% bonus and 5% merit increase. And that's when they ask themselves, why the hell should I even bother?

I've been a top performer (the top of the stack rank continuously) for 4 years in a really large group and moved rapidly to where I am. After doling out reviews last year and noticing virtually no difference between the folks on my team who got a 3.0 and those who got a 4.5, I ask myself why I even bother.

With VCs throwing money around again, why bother staying here? The stock isn't moving (positively, at least), management doesn't believe or trust in its employees, and the people left behind are (I'm finding) becoming increasingly more incompetent and/or demotivated.

Anonymous said...

Reminder: interview with Bill Gates on Donny Deutsch tonight at 10pm on CNBC.

Anonymous said...

Please tell me that your SPSA goal list only applies to the partners in sales and marketing.

The dev, test, and PM partners in Office have been working on Office 12 for the past 3 years. I don't see what they could have done to increase adoption of Office 11 during that time, and it wasn't their job anyway. Being rewarded even 50% of (x) for something they didn't, couldn't, and weren't even supposed to do is bulls***.

Anonymous said...

"I know... my FAM hopes for an analyst uprising are a bit like Linus van Pelt and the Great Pumpkin."

Why do you think the analysts would have an uprising? For the most part, they don't have a position in MS nor do the firms they represent (except perhaps as part of an index fund). Most of the latter however, do have an investment banking relationship with MS - or want one. So will the analysts ask some tougher questions in light of the most recent fuckups to avoid some future embarassment? Sure. But hey, until recently, all but one had a buy rec on this stock for the past five years as it's been cut in half - so they've all blown their credibility anyway. So if you expect them to take management to the wall with their questions, think again. First, it's not their money on the line. Second, they don't want Ballmer and co to whisper in their bosses ear that maybe it's time to put someone else on the account. Third, their firms want the investment banking or future possibility of said. So will their tougher questions matter? Perhaps, but only indirectly. All they can do is lower their opinion to a hold or sell (which 4 recently did), which in turn might tank the stock further - though 5 years of near-universal buy recs didn't drive it. Then what? Ultimately, it comes down to shareholders. They're the people who OWN the company. They're the people who have been underwriting the mistakes via lost market cap and massive relative underperformance. They're the only ones who can say enough is enough and rather than sell (as they have been in droves), decide to exercise their ownership rights and pressure for change. Will they? Eventually yes, because this current management's strategies are driving this stock into the ground. But how bad will it have to get for them to revolt? Based on the past 5 years, far worse that even current. My guess: a stock price in the teens. If you want to do something productive, lobby shareholders to withhold their votes for executive officers, vote down any initiatives on the upcoming proxy and possibly boycott the shareholder's meeting entirely because it's a fucking joke. BTW, that should include employee holders as well if they're similarly not happy with the current trajectory of this company - which should be most, except possibly that partner who can hide behind his SPSA criteria and get his $M's regardless of how poorly he and the company have done at a macro level and in particular for shareholders.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if we look at the glass half full on this the majority of the 800+ partners can take their money and f$% off and we have probably just removed one of major reasons the company is a sloth that forgot how to execute. Not only have I sold what little stock that is left above water, I think I will just accept that next job offer doubling my salary. Worst case I will be dealing with the same BS but being paid more for it, with better work life balance, and shoot, I might even get passionate again about what I do, since that was beaten out of me. I need some solid reasons to stay around and continuing to waste my career on a company that clearly supports keeping the divide between the haves and have not's.

Anonymous said...

"The sad truth that you whining underachievers have to accept is that we were given a compensation package tied to aggressive and important goals. We worked very hard for three years to meet the performance goals tied to that package. We blew away the targets and now we DESERVE to be paid what was promised to us."

The sad truth is that this typifies the culture of entitlement and overblown sense of your own contribution that typifies the partner level at MS. Collectively, you've all FAILED as measured by the stock and the company's numerous fumblings which has caused investors/customers/competitors/media to question MS's viability like no other time in its history. If you had concerns about the SPSA criteria 3 yrs ago, you should have raised them - but then that would have taken some guts. Instead, you let them stake your pay to some criteria that you knew you could knock out of the park (or more accurately, the entire company could while you took complete financial credit) and could seemingly care less 3 years later that this was the wrong thing for the company. In any event, I think you're right, you should get paid since you maxed out on the criteria as stated. And then you should be fired for your ridiculous attitude that takes no personal responsibility (and seemingly feels none either) for the company's overall failures even though you folks, as a group, are highly paid to avoid that. Finally, Steve and Bill should resign for having agreed to such asinine and non-shareholder aligned criteria. Once again, they've shown that they're incapable of anticipating even the ST future, unable to properly align company rewards with the creation of shareholder value and generally unable to provide the right leadership (including promoting the right folks to senior most positions) required to take MS to the next step.

Anonymous said...

As an IC, I used to be pretty bad at playing the corporate game. Sadly the FAQ accurately reflects some of the things I've had to learn the hard way.

The sad truth is, you seldom get rewarded for doing the right thing. In one of my recent reviews my manager praised me for doing mostly useless but highly visible things, while all the work I put into writing a high quality high value feature got very little attention.

The fact that this feature is a success with customers (very little negative feedback from users) had little impact on my review scores.

It is more important to the management chain that I spend time attending useless meetings. Writing good code? Nah...

Anonymous said...

Man I'm glad I bailed from the company three years ago. What management is doing is classic “bait and switch”. They knew by '03 that the stock wasn't performing because of the sea change in the overall software market.

By '03 when I left you had the following realities:

[1] The IT recession: Impact on upgrades cycles.

This was caused the stock market crash in ‘01 and coming off of the Y2K/Internet bubble. What the IT recession caused was a reexamination by businesses of the value of the upgrade cycle. Many businesses were quite happy with Win2K server and Win2K professional other businesses sought to lower cost their TCO with Linux servers whose business model doesn't impose unnecessary upgrade cycles. This reevaluation of the business value of upgrading by IT departments was detrimental to Microsoft's business strategy and a major reason for the stock's flatness.

[2] IT recession: Impact on employment.

The IT recession prevented Microsoft from being able to continue to use stock options as an incentive for retention. Unfortunately in a crisis there is a tendency by lousy management to blame front-line workers for poor stock performance. Microsoft management took two approaches:

[a] Weed out workers so-called “escapees” These where described as employees who would get perennial 3.0 reviews and then transfer out to other departments. However there is a tendency to believe that these types of workers are “poor” performers. This was really a way for Microsoft to thin out their ranks without paying unemployment insurance or a lawsuit because the worker “voluntarily” left but was really pressured out the door. As a manager I was well aware of this tactic and it was encouraged by HR. The problem with this approach is that many of the so-called escapees were consistent and reliable performers who moved around to different projects and teams. If you are that type of worker it makes sense that each time you’d would get regular 3.0 review as the people who where on the teams longer had already “proven” themselves and built up team trust and relationships. It was an extremely myopic strategy implemented by HR that forced out a lot of talented workers.

[b] The other tacit was that since the stock was underperforming to the angst of many workers especially those who started by 1998, one way to retain them was to make promises. It would appear that what they did with SPSA. The problem with that was like with 401K plans is that the business risk was transferred onto the employees and away from upper managements. Upper management will continued to get paid the big dollars while all you guys get are angst from asinine reviews and the blame when things go wrong. Didn’t Ballmer just call for firings? That’s the classic bait and switch. These incentive was designed to hold you guys in place but with the recession from 2001-2004 many Microsoft employees wasn’t going to risk jumping ship. So it was easy for the company to sell all of you snake oil.

Microsoft is not a shell of itself. Microsoft has not “declined”. The problem is that all of these issues that are discussed on Mini-Microsoft have existed for over a decade. The problem was that because Microsoft was so successful no one could argue with their success. They are arrogant and still are. The problem is that times have changed but upper management dinosaurs are using the same formulas and postures of “take it or leave it”.

Well guess what? Times have changed and the software recession in the Seattle area ended by 2004. Unless you are getting the big bucks at Microsoft your time and talent is being used to make Bill Billions even richer and adding to HIS asset portfolio of your intellectual property. A number of former Microsoft employees are finding better opportunities working for smaller startups that value their talent and skills and at least offer an opportunity with stock options in an emerging company. Take HouseValues, Getty Images and Real Networks as examples.

Anonymous said...

Sure, Vista has had some execution problems

That has to be one of the stupidest things I've read in a long time.

Making *really* bad decisions, being totally out of touch with customers, and shipping 2 or 3 years late is "...some execution problems".

Vista is probably the worst fiasco in Microsoft history, and all the ICs will continue to suffer for at least the next 6 months, but to a partner, that's a "...some execution problems".

No. Vista didn't have execution problems. Vista had fundamental problems in planning, in direction, in *leadership*. And the responsibility for that all lies at the partner level...

Anonymous said...

I didn't come up with this program, and in fact I was against several of its key attributes.

Yet, you'll gladly accept the bounty this program will hand you.

The SPSA program is kept quiet for a reason - disproportionate rewards. It kills morale faster than anything else.

Anonymous said...

If the partner thinks that the partner program and SPSA award are genuinly deserved and these awards are needed to encourage empoyees to do their best, then this program must be publicized. Let every employee know that working hard gives them a possible chance of winning SPSA award in the future.

Why hide it, if it is so great? You partners, do not you want to encourage other employees to work had and try to become partners themselves? If SPSA is a deserved carrot then do not you want to show the carrot to others?

I extensively researched through HRWEB and did not find anything about SPSA. It seems like Microsoft is trying to hide SPSA hard. This sounds very fishy.

Is it that the next years extra 2 billion dollars being spend on SPSA? Since according to new rules every stock compensation counts in expenses.

Any performance based award to encourage employees must be made public. Not doing so either means that it is not performance based or else it is not constituted to encourage employees.

This is as simple as this. Logical arguments do not lie. If there is any partner who has courage to counter this argument please do so.

Anonymous said...

"Three years ago, in a room with over 800 partners, Bill and Steve discussed the details of the program with all of us and established the reward criteria."

So there you are, the Top 500 (now magically morphed to 800 in the unstoppable bloat that has gripped this company post 00), and none of you have the business savvy and/or backbone to say "Gee Steve/Bill, shouldn't key financial metrics like revenue/income growth, marketshare gains and stock performance have ANYTHING to do with our performance metrics"? We need a lot less arrogant "partners", acting like fre-agent athletes and self-indulgently telling us what they deserve despite massive overall team failures over the past three years, and a few more humble executives who understand that their overall goal is to lead the team to victory and only if they do that, to share in the rewards. In other words, folks who remember how to act like "owners".

Anonymous said...

Fundamentally there is just a two-tier compensation program here. Partners who rake in mass amount of cash regardless of company performance (please - 50% for MISSING GOALS?) and the rest of the company, who are expected to take one for the team, accept smaller bonuses and raises to help the company lower expenses overall.

I frankly don't care if the Partner goals, set 3 years ago were met. You know the $$ amounts WILL leak this fall, right around the time most employees take a net loss after cost-of-living is factored in. If you feel you truly "DESERVE" it I highly encourage you to follow our mantra of increased transparency, get up in front of your team, and disclose what your SPSA bonus is. Then disclose what their average bonus is for the review cycle.

No doubt everyone will congraluate you on doing such an outstanding job.

Anonymous said...

When the Russians were beating down the door of Berlin, the Germans citizens stood fast by their leader and imagined a super weapon that would help them win the war.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like people on this blog are desperately hoping that some senior person, let’s call them Santa for clarity, to swoop in and save the company form all of these issues.

Trust me! It ain’t gonna happen. Upper management cares about you, but only to the extent that you will start voting with your feet. Complacency is their friend and they know that they can push things pretty far before it breaks. They will ooze with empathy in public meetings and will go on listening tours and will talk about the great changes coming, but looking historically management does not care unless that are faced with massive unrest or legal issues.

It would be an interesting study to look at the fanatical following that Microsoft management has. These guys have lied to us for YEARS. They will continue to massage the truth and put it into packages for internal consumption. The company has been going no where in terms of stock value for 7+ years and counting.

Why are we spending time making titles transparent in Office? It sure is a bunch of wasted energy on something that doesn’t make the products any better. Why are we doing the VP shuffle on MSN? Do we really think that changing the top will dramatically improve things (remember when BrianV took over Windows – he was to be the savior then)?

Consider a recent talk where BillG states unequivocally that many of the problems in MSN (and Search), were due to the wrong people being in those jobs. When in doubt, throw the team under the bus.

Bottom line, there is no secret weapon. What you are seeing is failure at the top.

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone bent out of shape that Partners are accepting compensation according to the agreement? They simply signed a better contract than the rest of us did. I congratulate them for locking in specifics. Everyone else should pay close attention to their example: this is how you avoid things like the upcoming "show efficacy to the shareholders" round of puny raises you all will be seeing this review period.

The issue is not that Partners somehow lack morals for benchmarking against these metrics, but the lack of transparency that leaves everyone surprised by this information. If you were offered this kind of arrangement, you can't say that you wouldn't focus primarily on the metrics; that's literally what you would get paid to do.

There is insufficient incentive to put in the trademark "Microsoft effort requirement" for the standard package: you receive stagnant stock and a sans-overtime wage in exchange for your 80 hour weeks. Don't kid yourself into thinking you will be promoted for paying your dues; in case you haven't noticed, Partners are hired from the outside. The ladder is rigged to keep you in place, not move you up.

I will never again be so silly as to sign a flat-rate, open-end-bonus agreement like the one I had with Microsoft. I empowered my employer to decide how much extra to give me at review time, rather than detailing specific rewards for defineable objectives. I cannot blame anyone for being more savvy than myself, and nor should anyone else.

Anonymous said...

"We knew going in that this was a risk, and clearly, this year, we are in a situation where the things most important to us as a company 3 years ago don't seem to be top of mind today, BUT that does not mean the program or goals are invalid. It was a known issue going in, and was something we conciously choose to accept."

A fuckup created knowingly and with forethought, is still a fuckup. In fact, it's worse. You can parse it anyway you like, but the reality is that the critical factor for any management team is to deal with the unexpected - not just to manage the fully known and understood. In ignoring that and tying 100% of your goals to the latter w/o any allowance or regard for the former, Gates and Ballmer have demonstrated ignorance that should preclude them from running a public corporation of this magnitude and by going along with it, you people didn't exactly impress either. What's the total price tag here for this round of the SPSA? At 800 partners times $1M+/per are we talking $1B+ or nearly half of that $2.4B of increased costs for next year that Wall St. liked so much? If so, do you think they're going to feel better when they find out at the analysts meeting that a huge chunk of that change is going to you partners as a bonus for all your good work over the past three years? Anyway, I hope it all comes out big time in the press prior to the shareholder's meeting so that Gates/Ballmer can't slide it past that given the August payout date. Somehow, I think shareholders aren't going to be in agreement with you that you've earned it. Lucy, you got some 'splainin to do.

Anonymous said...

A thought struck me reading this part:

1) Increased Customer Satisfaction with Microsoft Products

2) Increased adoption of the Developer Platform

3) Increased adoption of Office 11


What are the metrics? (Some of us did do Statistics in College, so sorry! :^)

How do you judge "satisfaction"? Increased adoption is relatively easy to judge, but how does one judge "Customer Satisfaction"?

I've also learnt there are two reasons why people stop complaining - you've either satisfied them and fixed their problems, or they've given up completely and have moved on elsewhere.

It would be instructive to see the metrics you (and the rest of the Partners and the bosses themselves) have used.

Anonymous said...

"This fumble cost me $60K."

Hmm... So you have 20,000 shares of MSFT = $480,000? I don't think you'll get much sympathy here...

Al said...

Well, I've had enough. I would have been nine years at Microsoft at the end of June.

I and my wife have decided to move to California and I'm taking a job at an shop (MobiTV) that uses almost all open source products and languages internally. I think this will be quite freeing after the forced dependencies of the last few years.

While I think that the group of people that I work with is, generally, quite good, I've been both a lead and an IC. I'm a recent PM but spent over eight years in test so I've got a pretty fair idea of how things work individually and in the different disciplines.

I think that Microsoft is fundamentally too large and moves waaaay too slowly to respond to the current environment. This could be dealt with where I am (Internet Explorer) if we weren't forcibly tied to the albatross which is Windows Vista. If we could set our own schedules and didn't have to take dependencies, especially in our schedule, from Vista, we have the resources to get things done. Alas, this will never happen.

Microsoft takes too long to respond to the current thoughtspace and I think that we are mired in levels and levels of requirements and dead wood. In my exit survey, I gave my feedback that I was personally disappointed that not a single person has apparently been fired for the screw-up with Windows Vista. Sure, a couple of VPs are quietly being put out to pasture (I guess...or are they?) but no one has been made accountable for it. My options were worth over $150,000 in 2001 when they were only partially vested. By 2003, I could barely put 10% down on a small house.

Where I'm going, it is a 200 person company with an 85 person development group that includes Dev, QA, and Ops. No Program Management and a QA group (where I will be) small enough to be nimble and get the job done. It will all be refreshing.

Friday is my last day...

Anonymous said...

MS Never fails to amaze me. I was against the spsa program when it was announced, and it looks like most everything I was afraid of is about to come true...

-an ex microsoftie, now working for a competitor

Koolaid Fanatic said...

Way-below-partner IC here.

To everyone complaining about Partners: geeze, chill. You sound like a bunch of whiny socialists. Next you'll be pushing to unionize. I don't think my pay is top notch for the work I'm doing, but it's sure as hell decent and I certainly expect that eventually when I hit L69 (say, in 10 years) I should be making a sight more.

To everyone saying "Bill and Steve need to resign!" you're hilarious:

Flash forward to summer 2008: the stock is at $38/share and climbing. Lots of new products out the door. Live strategy is taking off. Comp 2007 is settling in - review has been revamped and you just got your 25% team bonus on top of your IC 6% merit increase and 10% bonus because your feature team hit their goals on all cylinders. Parking lots are full by 9:00 and still mostly full at 8:30 PM. You wake up thinking about a new solution to that tough problem you were working on. You've got your own window office again because the new buildings have come online and space issues have eased (the round of layoffs in 2006 for low-end performers and managers playing "the game" helped here too). Windows 2008 is in stabilization mode and getting ready to ship in plenty of time for the holidays. The halls are buzzing with activity. That mischevious tester pops in to talk about that crashing bug you resolved not repro for a few minutes. You send him away because you need to get ready for an interview for an open dev position (candidate is jumping ship from Google now that their stock is trading at $48 and Larry Page has really gone off the deep end). All is right with the world once more. You smile.

Think you'll be bitching about Bill and Steve at the company meeting that year?

Wishful thinking? We shall see my friend, we shall see. All this complaining is just angst about the stock price.

Anonymous said...

Random thought: instead of stock / cash, what if management increased our paid time off vacation to 15 weeks a year? That's like a 33% raise! Plus, we do our best scheduling when people go on vacation. Probably wouldn't help us ship anything faster though...

Anonymous said...

For instance, an D12 developer might have been eligible to recive 4800 shares of options, while a D13 was eligible for 9600 and a D14 eligible for 15,000.

In the old days, when things were going well and the stack was doubling every year, you made out well and didn't really get bothered by the fact that the senior folks made out VERY VERY well. When you cashed out $100k worth of stock, they were selling $2m worth.

Let's do some math here. D14 was really high back then. Most of folks were D11-D12. So high flying architect or GM was getting roughly 4x-8x more options than a senior developer or lead and 16x regular grunt.

Now , D11 turned into L61-62, D12 into L63-65, D13 into L66-67 and D14, I assume, is now a pertner. However, the latter is getting 1M (which is, I assume, about 50K shares) spread over 3 years while L63 is getting 1000 shares spread over 5 years. That's more than 50x difference. In the "old days" it would be just 8x or 16x.

Another problem in the Mr. Partner argument: $100K is a good money. In fact, I don't mind you getting $100M as long as I am getting $1M. However, I do mind $100 vs $10K. Ratio is the same, but the net result is hugely different.

Sure, you can continue enjoying the reward, but don't expect unwashed masses to keep delivering if this kind of practice is going to continue. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to think I would have done a better job.

Uh, you would have done a better job if some, ahem, loser told you he was playing the system? There will be people trying to play *any* and *every* system. You have to learn to see through them.

Listen, people will complain about every freaking system out there. Does it mean we shouldn't change ours? Of course not. But just because someone claims they can "game" the system is a dumb reason to criticize the whole system.

In my experience people who complain about reviews are people who get stuck with bad reviews...probably because they spend their times complaining instead of working, like the top 2/3rd of the company.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to say that many of you posters come off as lousy, whiney employees with a terrible perspective on life. You seem to have a sense of entitlement, that you deserve to be a millionaire, that it is MSFT's responsibility to make you a happy and successful in life. It seems that you are little different from the stereotypical welfare recipient - just a bit more educated and intelligent.

Don't take the posts here seriously. These are those 20 - 30 underachievers whining perpetually. With the anonymity afforded by the internet, their ping pong posts may seem like a lot but it ain't much. Think that was a real partner posting about SPSA? Nah

Anyway the folly of these misguided fellas is obvious. They are whining about not getting a lot of money, scheming about how to get promoted, shouting that Devs should be paid more. Yet they envy the lot of the people who have been through the system and are now enjoying the fruits of their labor. These complainants came into the company with Windows and Office as the main cash cows. Now after several years of their employment, Windows and Office are still the only cash cows. They have not contributed anything new. Yet they want to be promoted and paid more, and don't want the folks that came up with the protocols, core APIs, core stack components and other building blocks of the cash cows, to be rewarded.

Again if you are an MS outsider, read the posts with a truckload of salt.

Someone said it here and I fully concur: Microsoft is the best place to work in the whole wild world. And I mean that!!

MSDecade said...

And what EXACTLY would you do differently?

Simple. Roll out the SPSA to everyone (in correspondingly lower amounts relative to level) so we could feel like we're all in this together.

Anonymous said...

Flash forward to summer 2008: the stock is at $38/share and climbing. Lots of new products out the door. Live strategy is taking off.

You must be a partner. Only a partner could afford the high quality crack you are smoking.

Anonymous said...

>I honestly don't think getting paid is "shafting" the company. I didn't come up with this program, and in fact I was against several of its key attributes. The program was passed and instituted. As a partner, I am included in the program and feel that I did my part and that YES, I DESERVE to be paid.

Very well, I suppose you can't be faulted for that. If those are indeed the terms you were given and they were met, then I expect that MS would uphold them just as much as I would expect MS to uphold its agreements with me.

And, as Who 'da Punk obliquely seems to have acknowledge the accuracy of what you have said, I even must applaud you for standing up and disclosing the particulars of what SPSA is. Not many people would have done that in your place; certainly few here.

I do have to ask: Nothing robs a person of satisfaction faster than to find that their work is meaningless, and the outrage you are hearing is a reflection of that. What manner of person is a partner that they would still willingly do this?

Anonymous said...

"The sad truth that you whining underachievers have to accept is that we were given a compensation package tied to aggressive and important goals. We worked very hard for three years to meet the performance goals tied to that package. We blew away the targets and now we DESERVE to be paid what was promised to us."

You sound awfully confused, Mr. "Partner." I spent years working for a bulge bracket investment bank, and we had a saying for your type of confusion. It's called, "confusing 'the chair makes the man' with 'the man makes the chair.'"

Here's another bit of wall street lesson for you: I-bankers are paid large sums of money, but it's really not hidden. You bring in business, and you are rewarded. It's reasonably transparent, and works cuz cash is easily counted. No hidden criteria, limited b/s.

MSFT has taken another approach -- opacity. When the spsa was announced three years ago, they initially talked as if the criteria would be published. I remember sitting and hearing Soma talk about that specifically. Unfortunately, instead it got done in the dark (which is where most shameful things get done), and the accountability / credibility factor is zilch.

And since the stock hasn't moved, I would say the criteria were not important (as you strongly state). As executives, you have a fiduciary responsibility to your shareholders. Since the co's performance and valuation are flat, then those criteria were definitely off or you guys didn't do your jobs. In either case, the payout is certainly not deserved.

Additionally, where do you guys get off calling yourselves partners? In the true sense of the word, Partners take risks, and are traditionally the only active investors in the company. So, being a partner means there is increased upside, but there is also increased risk. What we now have at MS is a system that rewards an entrenched bunch without their taking on a comensurate degree of risk. I think instead of "partner," the more correct term would be, parasite."

If you were trully partners, you would be concerned about the company's valuation, and would be loath to suck capital out of thing to reward yourselves for underperforming. In addition, you would be really concerned about bad attrition.

Instead, you just about screamed like a todler about DESERVING your spsas. Does that go well with your pablum? If you really believe in the b/s you are spouting, and are proud of it, then why not post your name here. Why hide yourself?

You guys are just driving this thing into the ground. Where we would be if Brad Silverberg had won out?

Anonymous said...

"1) Increased Customer Satisfaction with Microsoft Products

2) Increased adoption of the Developer Platform

3) Increased adoption of Office 11"

Number 1 now makes sense. It's why MSN (and others) kept changing their measurement of custsat. Change the yard stick when things don't look good. That makes Number 1 meaningless.

Number 3 sounds like it is really about one thing: a good sales force. Since O11 was pretty much done when the spsas were done, any incremental impact you guys could have had (outside of sales) were nil. The sales guys are well rewarded -- a 3.5 gets a very sizeable bonus in sales. So, outside of sales, Number 3 is meaningless.

Only Number 2 is really in scope and in time. Wow. 67% of the criteria against which someone is measured are b/s.

again, if you're proud of your job and the system, post your employee number so internal folks can see who you are. C'mon, show your chutzpah.

Anonymous said...

I haven't supported the idea of having a union the times it's come up over the last few years. But something like this partner program really makes me think the rest of us would be better off if we could negotiate in strength. Random bitching to each of the thousands of HR reps isn't going to get it done.

I wish I could find a partner in my group so I could talk to him/her about this program in more detail. Since some details are starting to leak now, it's obvious that more will come out when it gets close to payday. If the other half of that mystery $2b isn't spent on massive raises/bonuses for the people that actually do all of the hard work, then they're gonna have to hire a bunch of temps to process all of those exit interviews.

Think we can convince MSTE to put on some classes for how to write a good resume'? :)

Anonymous said...

Where we would be if Brad Silverberg had won out?

Ignition - Submit your resume

Anonymous said...

However, L64-L66: dev lead, dev manager, architect, PUM of a small team have almost no reason to work harder. They are not getting any significant stock awards and probability of promotion becomes smaller and smaller as you get to L64+.
Well said. The stock no longer rockets up, people no longer vest millions and retire at 29, and the company's structure changes from dynamic to static. You can still rise, but it becomes much less a task of doing a great job for MS, and more a political game. [And that's what the ladder-climbers are doing all around you.]

Anonymous said...

"And what EXACTLY would you do differently? Pay everyone the same wage? Lessen the gap?"

Well for starters, we could apply the same rules to partner comp increases as the rest of the company. If I am held to a 5% max salary increase, then partners should be held to a 5% max increase. If my bonus maxes out at 11%, then partners' bonuses should, too. As it stands now, partners have the ability to vastly increase their total compensation while I (with a 4.2 lifetime average rating)am being asked to look forward to a 3% increase. I was against the SPSA concept when it was announced, and it is now time to say "I told you so."

Anonymous said...

Don't take the posts here seriously. These are those 20 - 30 underachievers whining perpetually. With the anonymity afforded by the internet, their ping pong posts may seem like a lot but it ain't much. Think that was a real partner posting about SPSA? Nah

20 - 30 posters viewed Mini's blogger profile 64922 times? Your numbers suggest a certain bias that makes you less than credible.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

We absolutely met/exceeded all of our goals set in these areas. Our customer satisfaction goals have been met, and in fact, we have exceeded our expectations by a wide margin. The .NET developer platform, including the recent Whidbey updates have been well received by our customers. Office 11 has definitely met its targets.

That promise of money has you drinking a bit too much Kool-Aid. .NET doing great? How many released, shipping apps are written in .NET? How many Microsoft apps are .NET? How many Vista features used to be written in .NET? Sorry, I don't buy that you've succeeded in this category at all.

You folks on this blog are being very narrow minded.

You're not winning friends that way.

I can't imagine if my manager said "OK, you have a 3 year bonus. The least you get is 50%. If you complete these three items, you get 150%. Partial completion, somewhere in between." Especially if the bonus was many times my cumulative salary for those three years, and wasn't a replacement for my annual performance bonus.

Is everyone clueless? The reason that people in other companies flock to startups is for the promise of potential gain. IF you help get this done, and IF the product succeeds, and IF NASDAQ likes us, you could make ______! That's why people at startups don't do 9-5. [Of course, people at startups aren't guaranteed that in the worst of all scenarios, they'll get at least 50% of their windfall.]

I am sure some of you will whine that this "is not fair", BUT you are just plain wrong.

Sorry, it isn't fair. It wasn't fair three years ago, it's not fair now. However, I agree with you that the rules shouldn't change dynamically. If you were promised something, management should deliver it.

(explains that Vista doesn't have anything to do with it)

You're right. That wasn't part of your deal, and it shouldn't be part of the equation.

Try to understand, though. People here, however, see nearly zero rewards for themselves. They see Vista as having been .. painful. They believe that the MS management chain is responsible in large part. Yet, you represent to them a part of that chain. Rewarding you while they have a dead stock, expiring under-water options, and salaries in the 65th (60th?) percentile just seems insulting.

We beat the goals and are therefore due a sizeable reward.

I agree that if you achieved your goals in your deal, MS should follow through with the arrangement. However, there are a lot of people in MS that deserve sizeable rewards, and will receive nearly zero.

The sad truth that you whining underachievers have to accept is that we were given a compensation package tied to aggressive and important goals.

Wow. Are you this much a jerk on campus? "whining underachievers"? Wow. Look, things change. Try entering MS today at a level 59 and becoming a 'Partner'. It's very different from when you rose in the company. I also disagree with 'aggressive and important goals'. Those goals were abstract and not aggressive. Were I to have my annual reviews done with goals that vague, I'd be earning 4.5s every year.

We blew away the targets and now we DESERVE to be paid what was promised to us.

As I said, I don't agree that you blew your targets away at all, but I do agree that you should receive at least the minimums stated in the original agreement. Changing the rules now would be wrong.

However, short of you going through the process of trying to get to a level 68 today from a 59 and finding out that without help from benefactors, a different market, and a different corporate culture, it's nearly impossible, I don't think you're capable of seeing anything from a perspective other than your own. As a result, I don't think you can see the mobs forming while some Partners or Execs shout 'Let them eat cake!'

Anonymous said...

"I wish I could find a partner in my group so I could talk to him/her about this program in more detail."

If your VP is straight-up, ask him or her who the partners are in your group. There are also aliases that you can check for familiar names.

In my view, if your VP is not straight up, you should consider changing groups.

Anonymous said...

"Again if you are an MS outsider, read the posts with a truckload of salt.

Someone said it here and I fully concur: Microsoft is the best place to work in the whole wild world. And I mean that!!"


Thanks Steve. When did you forget that "The employees are Microsoft's greatest asset"? Maybe you could start working on making it the best place to work for the rest of us?

Microsoft is HUGE, some groups are very functional and healthy and productive, others are disease ridden and inject disfunction into everything that they touch.

For every friend in Microsoft that has a great job in a great group, I know at least one who is forced to keep notes on their manager so that they can help HR push the psycopath out, or who is excluded from productive work because others in the group are buddy-buddy with the manager.

Sure, this blog attracts the people who are frustrated. It isn't a perfect mirror, but it is good at showing the problems.

I want Microsoft to improve, even though I am an ex-sofite. I saw 5 years of messes and for me, I now work in a place that IS BETTER than Microsoft...or at least it is better for me and for the people that I work with. If Microsoft gave us offers at double our current salary, we wouldn't take them.

As per your comment on the number of people posting, I would like to state for the record that I have been reading this blog for a few months and have only posted at most twice to any thread and less than 20 times in total. From the variety of stories, perspectives, arguments, and writing styles, I would be surprised if fewer than 200 individuals semi-regularly post comments.

Not to give Mini too big of an ego, but I suspect that the monthly readership is a high six digit figure.

Google gives 21,600 hits for "minimsft".

One of the many,
Anonymous

Anonymous said...

In my experience people who complain about reviews are people who get stuck with bad reviews...probably because they spend their times complaining instead of working, like the top 2/3rd of the company.

Or just people who like to complain, like me. I've gotten 4.5s, and am happy to point out that the review system is a subjective game based on who you know, your visibility, and how good you made your boss look, irrespective of whether you actually did your job.

Anonymous said...

How does one become a partner at Microsoft? Is it possible to do so from rising through the ranks?

Anonymous said...

"We knew going in that this was a risk, and clearly, this year, we are in a situation where the things most important to us as a company 3 years ago don't seem to be top of mind today, BUT that does not mean the program or goals are invalid. It was a known issue going in, and was something we conciously choose to accept."

HR constantly reminds us to update commitments in our reviews, and yet our partners aren't doing that. My direct reports always wanted to keep their commitments up-to-date and I eventually told them commitments are HR-bullshits.

MS should take down the http://msvalues website because apparently our partners have none of the values, and yet HR always reminds us to look for these values when interviewing candidates.

I couldn't take this anymore and recently left MS after more than a decade of service. I'm glad I took the stock option transfer program a few years ago. The problems were very visible back. I just feel bad for some of my friends who didn't take the transfer. They were in denial, I guess.

alanau said...

>>Think we can convince MSTE to put on some classes for how to write a good resume'? :)

Not directly, but we have a Career module in our EE for Dev class that gets a lot of positive feedback. Contact me over corp email.

Anonymous said...

It has been about 6 months since I left MS, and after reading these blogs it makes my blood boil.

THe FAQ is well written. I still mentor a few new employees(people whom I recruited while I was in MS) and I give the same advise as in the FAQ. I know I am not doing good for the company, but I was naive and no one gave me the advise. If you dont game the system the IC's will go nowhere in 10 years. I had 2 promotions in my first 6 years at MS, and then 3 more in the next 3 years(becoz I knew how to game the system). What you need a good manager and PUM, and you can go all the way to L64 without much hassle. Damn, if someone would have told me in my 1st year about this, I would have become a partner(parasite) by now.

It pains to see a great company becoming like this. I completely agree that bot Bill/Steve should go. They should get some one from some other industry, and do a huge shakeup.

Maybe it will happen in 2 or 3 years, and then I shall make a come back after making my millions in my present company( Go Google)

Anonymous said...

"Again if you are an MS outsider, read the posts with a truckload of salt."

Ok, should I focus instead on the company's ability to ship products on time, provide a better search than GOOG as promised, turn MBS into a $10B division by the end of the decade as Raikes committed, make MSN a leader, show returns on Xbox that would justify the massive investment to date, income growth rates, the trajectory of margins, the stock's performance over the past 3 years or the level of MS innovation? Here's an idea: maybe if instead of bullshitting everyone about how great things are, management acknowledged the problems and started visibly and urgently dealing with them, shareholders like myself and investors generally might actually get some confidence in this company again. Right now, everyone KNOWS Microsoft has problems. What's unclear is whether current management acknowledges those problems far less is prepared to deal with them decisively. Instead of worrying about whining employees, worry about Ballmer's penchant for perpetually blowing smoke up everyone's asses because it isn't helping and is actually making people more concerned because it signals a leadership that is completely divorced from reality.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could find a partner in my group so I could talk to him/her about this program in more detail.

How to find a partner:

1) All VPs are partners
2) All DE's are partners
3) All folks that were GPMs' in the early/mid-nineties are partners now
4) Most GM's, especially those around in the mid to late 90's are partners
5) Most people in engineering buildings with corner window offices are partners

You will have 0 problems finding a partner. You might have a problem getting them to speak to you honestly though. They aren't very good at telling the truth :)

Anonymous said...

"And since the stock hasn't moved, I would say the criteria were not important (as you strongly state). As executives, you have a fiduciary responsibility to your shareholders. Since the co's performance and valuation are flat, then those criteria were definitely off or you guys didn't do your jobs. In either case, the payout is certainly not deserved."

And that, to me, is the crux of the matter. If the stock hadn't performed for a year or so, one could understand the perspective that having accomplished your stated goals, you should be paid. But when the stock hasn't performed for going on 4 years and is within a whisker of its all-time low, it boggles the mind that the senior leadership doesn't step back and question whether they've really been successful at all. The numbers are fucking staggering. Since 00, there have been salary increases amounting to $B's/yr to explicitly make up for the previous option gains, the multi-billion dollar option trade-in program, $B's in yearly grants (to supposedly "better align employees and shareholders" but has done anything but), $100M's in upfront payments on the SPSA if I recall (less we forget that they got some advance money 3 years ago), perhaps another $1B+ in upcoming SPSA awards and the really big one - over $40B in buybacks that rather than reduce shares outstanding (which they never have YOY), have actually gone to cover the dilution from insider compensation - the majority of which flowed to this same group of elites? All this while the stock has been cut in half and OWNERS have seen over $300B of their capital destroyed? Against that backdrop, all these comments about "deserving" more compensation are comical - and pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Steve and Bill and the rest go on and on about passion, about wanting employees to be excited and loyal.

Loyalty requires trust, yet we obviously can not trust those running this company.

How can anyone trust them with massive secret compensation plans to lavishly reward the top 5% of employees (by level not necessarily contribution?) regardless of company performance while the rest watch benefits being steadily chiselled away while salaries stay flat and stock goes nowhere? Am I the only one who hears some echoes of Enron here?

A loyal non-partner would need their head examined. Partner loyalty is clearly bought and paid for.

A steadily growing number of good performers in my group are leaving...but our ranks are growing even faster with interns and new heads from acquisitions. I guess the "big picture" math looks good from the top.

I will be examining the next SEC filings closely and hope to see the SPSA costs published in the mainstream press. Let's see how the Street reacts to that. It may be a lesson worth learning.

Anonymous said...

Interesting thing from this offer letter (from the Wall Street Journal's website (http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB112318844764605300-FH88TawWTj172cGiNAedkxgias4_20050903.html?mod=blogs)

is this line:

The actual size of the award will be determined based on the company's performance against the program measures.



Microsoft Offer Letter
August 4, 2005

Here is the text of the offer letter from Microsoft Corp. dated July 27, 2005, executed by B. Kevin Turner on July 28, 2005. The letter was filed in a form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Aug. 4.

July 27, 2005

VIA AIR COURIER

Kevin Turner

Dear Kevin:

Microsoft Corporation is pleased to confirm our offer for the position of Chief Operating Officer reporting to Steve Ballmer, Chief Executive Officer. We anticipate that you will start your employment on September 8, 2005.

Microsoft has extended this offer to you based upon your general knowledge, background, experience and skills and abilities and not because of your knowledge of your current employer's or any previous employer's trade secrets or other confidential information. As a condition of employment at Microsoft, you will be required to sign the standard form Microsoft Corporation Employee Agreement (copy enclosed) in which you agree to, among other things, not disclose to Microsoft or use in your employment with Microsoft any confidential or proprietary information or trade secrets of any current or prior employer. In this regard, you should be extremely careful not to bring to Microsoft any documents or other materials in tangible form belonging to or acquired from your current or any prior employer.

Annual Compensation. Consistent with the company's philosophy of pay for performance, a significant portion of your annual compensation will be provided through performance-based components. The compensation package associated with this offer is as follows:

Your starting salary will be $570,000 per year, equivalent to approximately $47,500 per month. Currently, our performance review process provides for an annual merit increase opportunity, and any increase would be based on performance. Your first salary review will take place in September 2006. Any subsequent salary reviews will occur according to the performance review timetable in place for Microsoft employees at that time.

You also will be eligible for the Partnership bonus program. The bonus is awarded based on performance as evaluated during the performance review process. The bonus potential ranges from 0-100% of your eligible earnings during the review period. Your first eligibility for a bonus will be September 2006. Any subsequent bonus eligibility will occur according to the performance review timetable in place for Microsoft employees at that time.

You will participate in Microsoft's Shared Performance Stock Award (SPSA) program, our long-term incentive compensation plan for senior managers and officers, with a target SPSA award of 624,000 shares. The actual size of the award will be determined based on the company's performance against the program measures. One third of the SPSA award vests on or about August 31, 2006 (following the determination of results for the performance period), with an additional one-third vesting in each of the following two years, subject to continued employment through each vesting date. Upon vesting, you will be issued shares of Microsoft common stock, with shares withheld to pay required withholding taxes. Your SPSA award is subject to approval by the Compensation Committee of the Microsoft Board of Directors and will be governed by the terms and conditions of an award agreement that you will be required to sign as a condition of the award and by the terms of the Microsoft Corporation 2001 Stock Plan. Additional materials regarding the SPSA program and your award will be provided to you approximately 60 days after you commence employment at Microsoft.

You will be eligible for vacation in accordance with Microsoft policy, as well as participation in the Company's benefit plans (the company currently provides a flexible benefits plan, 401(k) savings plan and employee stock purchase plan). In addition you will be eligible to participate in all other executive compensation and/or employee benefit programs on the same terms and conditions that are available to other senior executives at your level.

Relocation. Microsoft will provide you with the relocation benefits described in the enclosed Relocation Benefits Summary. As part of Microsoft's executive relocation assistance program, you are eligible for a third-party home sale purchase at its appraised value should your primary residence not be otherwise sold as of a mutually agreed date. The benefits include reimbursement for certain relocation costs in accordance with the company's reimbursement guidelines. Payroll taxes will be withheld; however, Microsoft will provide a tax gross up to assist you in paying the taxes associated with the lump sum cash relocation allowance and certain other non-deductible relocation expenses that will be included in your Form W-2 as gross compensation.

Replacement of Forfeited Compensation. In addition, we recognize you are forfeiting a very significant amount of accumulated equity compensation when you leave your current employer. Accordingly, as a replacement for that compensation, we offer the following on-hire cash payment and Stock Award grant.

An on-hire payment of $7,000,000 will be made to you within 14 days after our receipt of your signed letter, Employment Agreement and the other forms enclosed with this letter. This amount represents our genuine interest in your joining Microsoft. Payroll taxes will be withheld from the on-hire payment. In the unlikely event that you leave the company of your own volition or due to termination for cause by the company prior to completing 12 months of employment, 100% of the $7,000,000 must be returned to Microsoft. If you leave the company of your own volition or due to termination for cause by the company after completing 12 months but prior to completing 24 months of employment, $4,700,000 of the signing bonus must be returned to Microsoft. If you leave the company of your own volition or due to termination for cause by the company after completing 24 months but prior to completing 36 months of employment, $2,300,000 of the signing bonus must be returned to Microsoft. You hereby authorize Microsoft to withhold this amount from any monies owed or stock issuable to you. For purposes of this letter, "for cause" means a good faith determination by the company that: (a) you have engaged in material dishonesty, fraud, or theft in connection with the business of the company or its affiliates; (b) you have engaged in conduct in violation of policies of the company designed to prevent violations of law, such as, without limitation, policies pertaining to compliance with the laws prohibiting unlawful discrimination, harassment, or insider trading; (c) you have been convicted of, or pled nolo contendere to, a felony; (d) you have materially breached the terms of your Employee Agreement; (e) your employment with the company violates any obligation to any third party not to engage in such employment; or (f) you fail to perform your material duties as an employee.

You will be granted a Stock Award of 320,000 shares in Microsoft Corporation under the Microsoft Corporation 2001 Stock Plan. Subject to continued employment through each vesting date, this award will vest as follows:

• 25% - September 1, 2008

• 25% - September 1, 2010

• 50% - Upon retirement from the company at age sixty or older.


Your Stock Award is subject to approval by the Compensation Committee of the Microsoft Board of Directors and will be subject to the terms of the Stock Award Agreement that you will be required to sign as a condition of the award and by the terms of the Microsoft Corporation 2001 Stock Plan. Additional information regarding this Stock Award, including the Stock Award Agreement, will be provided to you approximately 60 days after you commence employment with Microsoft. Under our current program, you will not be eligible to be considered for future Stock Awards.

Termination of Employment by Microsoft. If Microsoft terminates your employment for any reason other than "for cause" as defined above, the payback provisions of the $7,000,000 on-hire payment will become void (i.e., no payback of any portion of the on-hire payment will be required). Also, in the case of termination of employment by Microsoft for any reason other than "for cause," any portion of the Stock Award up to 160,000 shares that had not vested as of the date of such termination, will become immediately vested.

Death or Disability. If, during your employment, you die or if you become totally and permanently disabled so as to qualify for Long-Term Disability coverage as determined by Microsoft's Long-Term Disability policy in effect at the time of the disability event (as defined and determined under the policy), any portion of the Stock Award that had not vested will immediately vest. The forgoing vesting provision supersedes and replaces any provision of the Microsoft Corporation 2001 Stock Plan concerning vesting.

Please recognize that this offer letter is not a contract of employment for any specific or minimum term and that the employment Microsoft offers you is terminable at will. This means that our employment relationship is voluntary and based on mutual consent. You may resign your employment, and Microsoft likewise may terminate your employment, at any time, for any reason, with or without cause or notice. Any prior oral or written representations to the contrary are void, and our at-will relationship may not be modified except by a formal written employment contract signed by an officer of Microsoft. Attached is an addendum which specifies that any dispute regarding this letter will be resolved through arbitration.

This offer is contingent on your providing us with acceptable proof of your identity and authorization to work in the United States and your proper completion of a Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) as required under U.S. immigration regulations. Enclosed is a listing provided by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service that describes what will be needed. This offer is also contingent upon the company receiving an acceptable check of your background, to include criminal convictions, confirmation of identification information, and credit history.

Please sign the copy of this letter and the enclosed Employee Agreement and promptly return them in the enclosed envelope. It is important that we receive your letter and the signed Employee Agreement prior to your start date. Please note that you are not authorized to alter the terms of the Employment Agreement in any manner. You may keep the original of this letter and a copy of the Employee Agreement for your records.

We believe you will make a substantial impact upon the future direction and success of our company. We look forward to your joining us. Should you have any questions, please give me a call.

Sincerely,

ACCEPTANCE:

/s/ LISA BRUMMEL
Lisa Brummel
Vice President, Human Resources

/s/ KEVIN TURNER
Kevin Turner

July 28, 2005

Anonymous said...

I think the partners did a great job. They got clearly defined goals and rewards spelled out for them, and payment for making those goals.

Now, what I want to know, is as an IC, how do I get clearly defined goals and rewards spelled out for me, so that if I make all my goals I get something for it. Right now, the way the system is, I make all the goals on my review, and I get ... nada.

Anonymous said...

Boy, do I feel good about leaving after reading that partner talk about the SPSA.

The only thing I regret is that in hindsight, I should have SHORTED my stock instead of just selling it- and I probably would have shorted it had I known about this at the time the SPSA was established based on such bogus criteria.

Since apparently we hire a lot of partners from external companies, I'm betting that guy's from Enron. Because his comments seem much more focused on lining his pockets than providing shareholder value.

Anonymous said...

All out flamewar: Al Billings vs Dare Obasanjo

25hoursaday.com/weblog/CommentView.aspx?guid=009aa56c-5a15-430d-b975-70272bd6c8ac

Feat. cameo appearances by some commenters on Mini!

Don't forget your popcorn.

I think he's being a complete dumbass, but I have to hand it to Al - he knows how to leave with ultra-visibility!

But the serious point is how little passion he seems to have for IE in his comments on Dare's blog. Essentially, he says "It'll ship without me because a bajillion other people work on it". No-one would EVER have said that with IE4. I feel that the lack of sense of responsibility will translate directly into cusat. I used to disagree with Mini, but now I see his point concretely exemplified, almost to the point of parody.

OK, so that makes him good attrition - but you can't help but feel the malaise.

[PS I think Dare went overboard with the tone of his criticism of IE and given his own blog-prominence, and that of IE, he should have been responsible and provided more detailed info than "I got hosed by setup"].

Anonymous said...

What kills me about these goals is that none of them are financial related.

1) Increased Customer Satisfaction with Microsoft Products

2) Increased adoption of the Developer Platform

3) Increased adoption of Office 11

For the next fiscal year, the goals should be:

1) Increase the stock price to above $30.

2) Grow profit by at least 20%.

3) Layoff greater than 25% of employees level 68 and higher.

Anonymous said...

For the next fiscal year, the goals should be:

1) Increase the stock price to above $30.

2) Grow profit by at least 20%.

3) Layoff greater than 25% of employees level 68 and higher.


That's really just one goal because 3 will cause 1 and 2.

Anonymous said...

Google gives 21,600 hits for "minimsft".

Suuuuuurre ... i'd say it's rather 603 than these whopping 20k:
http://www.google.com/search?q=minimsft&hl=en&hs=KUz&lr=&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&start=800&sa=N

Anonymous said...

Partners have earned their stripes in the industry or in Microsoft. Microsoft identifies some people as being key to Microsoft. Thousands of non partners can leave but the partners can single handedly rescue Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

Don't take the posts here seriously. These are those 20 - 30 underachievers whining perpetually. With the anonymity afforded by the internet, their ping pong posts may seem like a lot but it ain't much. Think that was a real partner posting about SPSA? Nah

Hey Brianv, enough with your damn cheerleading. It only works when you put on your pathetic pink tutu.

This shit is real and you know it. Why don't you get up and announce to the entire windows division what the REAL SPSA program is. While you are at it tell them all how many options you were awarded in 2000, 2001, what your payout on the buyback was, and how much you personally stand to earn this august in spsa. All of this inspite of the fact that you personally were running windows and oversaw the biggest disaster this company has ever witnessed.

IF you want to change perception on this blog, do it with real facts, not some made up bs claiming to know whats fake and whats real. Put it out there for all of us to see. Show us the signed SPSA paperwork that you accepted and then use that to explain how anon posters are just making shit up to fan the flames.

Anonymous said...

For the next fiscal year, the goals should be:

1) Increase the stock price to above $30.

2) Grow profit by at least 20%.

3) Layoff greater than 25% of employees level 68 and higher.


4) Layoff all employees that have had two or more 3.0 (or below) reviews in the past 4 - 6 years, at all levels.

#4 will help decant the morass of decayed elements that have otherwise camped out at Minimsft spewing putrid sewage against my beloved MSFT.

Anonymous said...

I don't work at Microsoft but boy is this blog entertaining :-) Great job Mini!

One thing that gets me though is the apparent lack of even basic economic principles when talking about comp.

The 90% rank-and-file of the company are not paid based on what they contribute technically or otherwise. They are paid what they are 'worth' and what they are 'worth' is mostly a factor of what it costs to replace them. It's not rocket science. In a generally slow economy with thousands of people applying to microsoft every year most employees are easily replaced.

The 10% who are partners and above are paid so much either because they are actually hard to replace (in rare cases) or more usually as a sort of living "incentive program" to motivate the other 90% with the idea that they too might earn millions someday. It's the whole lottery principle. That's their 'worth'.

Sure, it's totally unfair and crazy but hey, welcome to capitalism!

Anonymous said...

I loved reading Kevin Turners offer letter. So what do you guys think now? I'd say that "partner" that laid out the SPSA program was legit.

First, look at the definition of COO:

Chief Operating Officer. The executive who is responsible for the day-to-day management of a company.

Then, Look at Kevin's Package.

Salary: $570,000
Bonus: Up to 100%
SPSA @100%: 624,000
SPSA @150%: 936,000
SA: 320,000
Signing Bonus: $7m

So, this August, assuming 100% SPSA, Kevin gets a cool: $4.9m assuming stock of $24

His SA is ~1.9m

We can ignore his normal bonus since 50% of 570k is chump change compared to the virtually garunteed $7m he gets from SPSA and SA.

So, what does a COO do? He is responsible for "day-to-day" management of the company?

He must be doing a kickass job to earn an extra $7m/yr over a paltry base salary of only $570k right? If he is running the "day-to-day" management of the company, Microsoft must be firing on all cylinders, executing flawlessly, no complaints, happy employees, happy shareholders, etc.

If there was widespread distrust and angst in the ranks, if the company was unable to execute on its goals, if shareholders, wall street, the rank and file employees were all legitimately concerned with Microsoft's ability to execute, surely the COO must be the one that should take the heat. Name one functional company where a COO overseeing a company in this much trouble would be eligible and would receive a yearly bonus of ~15x their base salary!

Now, if the COO is running at levels like this, what do you think our VPs, our Distinguished Engineers, our Elite Partners, etc. are all making? If COO gets $7m/yr, its perfectly reasonable to assume that the average partner will easily receive $1m/yr, and more likely than not, that they will receive 1.5-2m/yr.

I was initially worried that the 2.4m extra spend was going to be wasted in pursuit of chasing google. Now, I know that only part of it will be wasted that way. The bulk of this years extra spend is going directly into the pockets of those 800+ partners that have architected the destruction of Microsoft!

Un-fu&*&%#ing-Believable!

Lets take a little poll. Which people on this list should receive their $2m this august, their first slug of SPSA?

Brian Valentine?
Chris Jones?
Blake Irving?
Steve Liffick?
Peter Spiro?
Quentin Clark?
Jawad?
David Sobeski?
John Shewchuck?
Robert Whabe?

If all of the above, then how about these guys?

David Vaskevitch?
Craig Mundie?
Robbie Bach?
Will Poole?

F^%$@#@ck It. I Quit! This place sucks!

Anonymous said...

The Impact of the SPSAs

Assuming 1/3 of the spsas vest at 100% this fiscal year, and assume the average shares vested is 75,000, at a stock price of $24 per share, and that their are 800 "partners," then the hit from this program this FY is about $1.4B. Now, that's over half of the $2.4B hole discovered by Rick Sherlund at Goldman.

$1.4B is a Material amount, and I am wondering how far the company has skirted accounting rules to not disclose this Material cost.

The undisclosed hole took the Street by surprise, and the stock took a hit. This is beginning to sound like HCA or Worldcom or Enron. We used to have transparent and crystal clear financials, but that has obviously changed.

This is skirting dangerous ground, and I for one am talking to my analyst friends on the Street tomorrow to get their thinking on this and coach them toward understanding this better.

Anonymous said...

Impact of spsas: Part II

FASB 123
(Financial Accounting Standards Board, Statement #123, Issued Oct-1995)

"Accounting for Awards of Stock-Based Compensation to Employees

This Statement defines a fair value based method of accounting for an employee stock option or similar equity instrument and encourages all entities to adopt that method of accounting for all of their employee stock compensation plans. However, it also allows an entity to continue to measure compensation cost for those plans using the intrinsic value based method of accounting prescribed by APB Opinion No. 25, Accounting for Stock Issued to Employees. The fair value based method is preferable to the Opinion 25 method for purposes of justifying a change in accounting principle under APB Opinion No. 20, Accounting Changes. Entities electing to remain with the accounting in Opinion 25 must make pro forma disclosures of net income and, if presented, earnings per share, as if the fair value based method of accounting defined in this Statement had been applied.

Under the fair value based method, compensation cost is measured at the grant date based on the value of the award and is recognized over the service period, which is usually the vesting period. Under the intrinsic value based method, compensation cost is the excess, if any, of the quoted market price of the stock at grant date or other measurement date over the amount an employee must pay to acquire the stock. Most fixed stock option plans-the most common type of stock compensation plan-have no intrinsic value at grant date, and under Opinion 25 no compensation cost is recognized for them. Compensation cost is recognized for other types of stock-based compensation plans under Opinion 25, including plans with variable, usually performance-based, features."

Some good news. Looks like MS has not tried to avoid 123 by keeping to statement 25.

The bad news: the impact of this should have been disclosed the same way a potential legal settlement expense needs to be disclosed. In one sense, the spsas were in our financials -- as a prepaid asset and as shareholders equity. The problem is the impact of these was not called out.

Good job E&Y -- going to go the way of Arthur Anderson?

Anonymous said...

What levels to SDET, SDE, and PM start out at?

I've heard that PM starts out the highest and is the fast-track to being a partner

Anonymous said...

About Al and IE...

Al's leaving, so you wouldn't think his level of passion is all that high to begin with. Right?

IE is a team that got built back up from scratch. Most of the people on the team have been there less than a year. Some of those genius "I DESERVE MY MONEY!!!" partners blew it big time a few years back and destroyed the old IE team. The new team is learning on the job and have a massive problem to deal with. Old, bad code, legacy problems, competition, and all the baggage of being part of the Windows team. THey'll need more than IE7 to fix the problems.

Anonymous said...

Brian Valentine?
Chris Jones?
Blake Irving?
Steve Liffick?
Peter Spiro?
Quentin Clark?
Jawad?
David Sobeski?
John Shewchuck?
Robert Whabe?

--
+ Mark Ashida

Anonymous said...

"Google gives 21,600 hits for "minimsft".

Suuuuuurre ... i'd say it's rather 603 than these whopping 20k:"

Learn a little bit about your competitor's product. Everyone else in the world knows how to use it. At the bottom of the page there is a nice little link that says:

"In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 599 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included."

similar != same.

Oh, and by the way, MSN search gives:

"Page 1 of 3,407 results containing minimsft (0.01 seconds)"

http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=minimsft&Form=MSNHB

...of course, with MSN, requesting anything past page 24 just gives you, big surprise, page 24.

Anonymous said...

What to do?

Thanks to Mini, most file and rank employees are now aware of how Microsoft works, or at least have this information available to them.

What are their options?

Option A: Strive to be a star contributor, proud of your work. Seek out opportunities to add value to the company, even when it means making unpopular choices. If you have a good manager, you will get a consistent 4.x and the 3% raise that comes with it.

Option B: Invest in your career instead of your job. In this instance, learn how the system works and how to play it best. One shouldn't feel ashamed of focusing on techniques that work best; after all, efficiency is the hallmark of a good engineer.

Option C: Find another job where you will be happier.

Option D: Change your job to make it fair (not awesome, just fair).

Option A (kick ass) was the way to go in the 90s when the company was small, and the industry was young. Before the days of "integrated innovation", a small team could turn out a marketable product in months, and take credit of its success. These days, performing extremely well only makes you much more "valuable" for the role you are in.

Option B (lick ass): An option for some, but not all. Good engineers are rarely good at bending tech principles, when it comes to choosing a mediocre "integrated and multi-featured" solution over a very good, but less glamorous. Try it if you can, but keep in mind that your core skills place you at disadvantage, and the space at the top is limited (partners aren't leaving).

Option C (haul ass). Voting with your feet is a much discussed option. Take the best deal available, and don't worry about MS commitments. Consider if the company delay laying you off if you were in the process of buying a house?

Option D (rest ass). This option is not much discussed here. An economist would observe that the perception of unfairness is rooted in the fact that an engineer gives the company much more than he gets in return. Fortunately, unlike a dairy cow, you control one of the aspects of this equation.

What do I mean by that? Make an honest assessment of how much you should be paid for your job, on hourly basis. Take benefits into account, to be completely fair. Once you arrive at the number (e.g. $60/hour), maintain that number through the rest of your employment. Apply option (B) as needed to maintain employment, but keep your options open.

You will still have the same job, and you may limit your mobility within the company, but you will be fairly compensated for the work you do. Your work/life balance will likely improve as well.

The employee inertia which prevents option C (leaving) from being an effective tool works to your advantage with option D. It takes long time to fire someone, and firing half of the team is not even an option for the management, as it works against their metrics.

And if you even "win" the 2.5 lottery with this approach, you have had plenty of time outside work to line up the next opportunity.

Work as much as you are paid; it's that simple.

Anonymous said...

"Partners have earned their stripes in the industry or in Microsoft. Microsoft identifies some people as being key to Microsoft. Thousands of non partners can leave but the partners can single handedly rescue Microsoft."

If they're so talented, why does Microsoft need to be "rescued" in the first place? I'm sure there's a lot of talent amongst the 800 and perhaps even some who deserve this kind of outsized payday, but $1B+ to 800 people given the performance of the company and the stock over the past 3 years is simply abusive and shareholders/analysts/etc. will be well justified when this gets disclosed and they rip Ballmer a new one.

Anonymous said...

"I was initially worried that the 2.4m extra spend was going to be wasted in pursuit of chasing google. Now, I know that only part of it will be wasted that way. The bulk of this years extra spend is going directly into the pockets of those 800+ partners that have architected the destruction of Microsoft!"

No, it's $1B directly wasted chasing GOOG and the other $1.4B indirectly wasted by compensating the 800 people who collectively were too stupid to prevent Microsoft from getting blindsided by GOOG (AAPL, CRM, etc.) and falling so far behind in the first place.

Anonymous said...

"Thousands of non partners can leave but the partners can single handedly rescue Microsoft." - Anonymous

Assume for the moment that what Anonymous said here is true. Then the partners can also single-handedly drive Microsoft into the ground.

You want the credit? Then you get the blame, too.

So which is it? Is Microsoft doing great? Or is it not? The partners might say, "great". A lot of people here would say, "not so great". We need an impartial barometer.

Wall Street, for instance. And Wall Street says, "not so great".

Time to step up and take the blame, partners.

But in fact what Anonymous said is not true. The partners cannot single-handedly rescue Microsoft.

Conduct the following thought experiment. Mini gets his wish, in spades. Everybody leaves, except the 800 partners. Can they "single-handedly" rescue Microsoft? Without the sales organization? Without all the ICs? Without all the testers? Just the partners?

No way.

Free clue: The person most responsible for the success of Microsoft is not Bill Gates. It's not the partners. It's not even the ICs.

It's whoever makes the coffee. Seriously. Without the coffee, the place stops a lot faster than it does without the partners.

Mr. Partner may say that all the ICs are replaceable (and so is the coffee person), but the partners are not. Really? Individually, maybe they are. In large numbers, no, the ICs are not replaceable. You want to hire a bunch of people off the street, who don't know Windows internals, and put them on finishing Vista? Forget it. You can't do it. It won't work.

Partners, get over yourselves. You got handed the golden goose. Enjoy it. But don't think that it means that you're more valuable than everyone else. You're not.

MSS

Anonymous said...

"$1.4B is a Material amount, and I am wondering how far the company has skirted accounting rules to not disclose this Material cost."

Go back to bashing MS 7/24 on the YHOO board hawcreek.

Anonymous said...

According to the 10Q, SPSA awards = approx. 1/3 of all [normal] grants. In other words, 800 people or ~1.3% of MS's total headcount is going to split ~33% of what goes to the other 59,200 combined. I'm all for pay for performance and strongly differentiated pay for superior performers, but that's absurd. Arguing that the criteria were clearly stated and have been met, while valid, seems to miss the most salient question(s): were these the most important goals for driving overall business success/shareholder value and, even if they were, was the money justified? Based on actual results, there's near overwhelming evidence to suggest that the answer to the former is no. But even if MSFT has performed much better, it's unclear whether that kind of price tag could possibly be justified. Ballmer's bs to the contrary, MS is no longer a growth play and all the shareholder money poured into emerging gets isn't going to change that. As such, it should be paring back costs and driving income gains. Instead, Ballmer points to the recent [largely profitless] move back to low double-digit revenue gains and the promise of everything else to come as justification for a ridiculous current cost structure and even more ridiculous investments. Large investors have clued in though and started dumping this stock in earnest back in Q4/05 and again recently. MS needs to spin off divisions that truly have a chance at being growth plays while fixing the myriad of problems and cost structure in the core cash cows. Unless of course this ridiculous cost structure and spending is required to simply defend the cash cows - in which case MS truly is the worst of all investments; diminished growth prospects and a rising cost structure. Personally, I don't believe the latter and think if the core groups get off their asses, listen to customers and start innovating, they can continue on nicely (and probably even grow faster). But wrt the 800, it's hard to see how a maturing company needs that many partners or can afford the price tag. Step #1 therefore should be to radically cut back on the total amount and Step #2 to cut back on the # of partners. Of course, doing Step #1 should help take care of some of Step #2 nicely, and the side benefit is that many of these folks will then bring their same unique brand of "success" to competitors - thereby slowing them down and driving up their cost structures.

Anonymous said...

Thousands of non partners can leave but the partners can single handedly rescue Microsoft.

Have they done a good job so far?

However, i'm not an expert on stock markets, but doesn't stock value go up when the profit does?

If MS already have 99% of the OS market and 99% of the Office buissnies there's not much room for growth in those markets is there?

MS needs to expand to other markets and are doing so with XBox and will, as it seems, also try to take over the search market.

You're welcome to correct me if i'm wrong, but thats how i see it.

Anonymous said...

Thousands of non partners can leave but the partners can single handedly rescue Microsoft.

Have they done a good job so far?

--

The reason Microsoft is as profitable as it is today is because of the partners. Without them, Microsoft as we know wouldnt exist.

Moreover, a partner was promoted by someone else. If you have beef with partner pay, you should take up with the person(s) that decided this scale not the partners themselves.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't believe the latter and think if the core groups get off their asses, listen to customers and start innovating, they can continue on nicely (and probably even grow faster).

Wow! Great idea! Why didn't I think of that??? Here I've been sitting on my ass, ignoring customers, and refusing to innovate. Gee, I'm going to let my team in on this new approach first thing in the morning!

Seriouly, what the hell do you think we've been doing here in the trenches of at least one of the core groups (Windows). We've been working our asses off to make Vista into something halfway usable after getting the strategy shaft for three years. Thanks SQL team. Thanks Jim. At least we rolled back to a stable code base before it was too late. Kind of. But to imply that those of us building Windows don't care about customers and need to "get off our asses and innovate" is beyond insulting.

*$#*@ you.

Andrew Petrochuk said...

No, it's $1B directly wasted chasing GOOG and the other $1.4B indirectly wasted by compensating the 800 people

You should be less guessing and more reading. Check out latest 10-Q here: http://www.microsoft.com/msft/download/FY06/MSFT_3Q2006_10Q.doc

SAs:
Nonvested balance at March 31, 2006
95.3 mil at $24.25

SPSAs:
Nonvested balance at March 31, 2006
36.4 mil at $23.74

"As of March 31, 2006, there was $1.7 billion and $417 million of total unrecognized compensation costs related to SAs and SPSAs, respectively. These costs are expected to be recognized over a weighted average period of 3.6 years and 2.4 years, respectively."

Next year only $173.75 will be recognized for SPSAs.

Anonymous said...

"Google gives 21,600 hits for "minimsft".

Suuuuuurre ... i'd say it's rather 603 than these whopping 20k:"

Learn a little bit about your competitor's product. Everyone else in the world knows how to use it. At the bottom of the page there is a nice little link that says:

"In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 599 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included."

similar != same.

Oh, and by the way, MSN search gives:

"Page 1 of 3,407 results containing minimsft (0.01 seconds)"

http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=minimsft&Form=MSNHB

...of course, with MSN, requesting anything past page 24 just gives you, big surprise, page 24.

google also caps it's query size to 1000 results:
http://www.google.com/search?q=minimsft&hl=en&lr=&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&start=995&sa=N&filter=0

message informing about that fact is really nice:
'Sorry, Google does not serve more than 1000 results for any query. (You asked for results starting from 995.)'

...It looks like 995 is bigger than 1000 in PhD's world...

paulsc said...

I truly cannot believe the number of whiners who post on this site. Do you have any idea what most of the posters sound like to the thousands of people who apply to Microsoft for a job each day? Like a bunch of pathetic children mad because their big brother got the larger piece of cake.

Well let me tell you, after one of the biggest tech depressions in modern memory, you should be glad you have a job. Sure, the job market is heating up, but Microsoft still has one of the best deals going. I've been working at Microsoft as a SDE for a little more than a month now and I thoroughly enjoy the technical aspects of my work. The pay isn't half bad, the medical benefits are stellar, and MS CorpNet is like the Library of Alexandria for computing.

So you didn't get a big Partner payout and you're mad that your "clueless" skip-level manager is pulling in the big bucks. Well, you know, maybe he isn't so clueless after all? He probably has to fight like hell to meet objectives, just like you, plus he's counting on all the whiners to show up before 10am and actually do some work until at least 6pm or so.

From what I've read on this blog, he's lucky if it happens.

If you don't like it at Microsoft then hit the road, and the sooner the better. If you do, maybe I'll get my own office in a month or two, though my office mate has been great at showing me the ropes on doing builds and my SDET is absolutely the best. I wouldn't even be able to check in code if it weren't for him.

And as for my PM, I sat in plenty of meetings with him as a contractor and now that I've seen him work from the inside during bug triage, I have a new respect for his knowledge of the product and the process.

Sure, there are plenty of things that need changing, and the decision cycle is far too long for my comfort level, but compared to just about any other large company, Microsoft rocks.

So, whiners, please leave the company soon. I want your office for my very own. For every one of you who leave in disgust, there are 1000 more ready to take your place, and more applying every day.

Anonymous said...

Instead of complaining about partner pay and getting jack for a raise again, why not just quit and become a contractor and see what the market will give you. If you are a superstar, you can easily get close to $200K/yr as an orange badge CSG. Be careful if you try this because if you are not a superstar, your pay as a contractor will suck and you'll pay full freight for your benefits.

Al said...

I love the insightful (not) commentary on my leaving the IE team and the little flamewar with Dare. It actually does amuse me.

My flamewar with Dare is based, really, on my venting about what I see as hypocrisy. Dare already knew my opinion of this from repeated private attempts to get him to work constructively with people. No, really, I did actually privately and politely talk to him more than once. Since that didn't seem to work and I was feeling a bit pissed off the other day, I vented on my own personal blog. I'm sure we've all done it and it would have amounted to nothing much (my blog isn't that popular) if Dare hadn'trun with it.

I actually have quite a bit of passion around IE. I am a former professional webmaster and I operate a number of websites, at least once of which is ten years old this year. I was hired by Microsoft in the first place, back in 1997, to work on IE as IE4 was being developed. I worked on IE4 and IE5, went to another team with a bunch of IE people to work on a cancelled project, worked on MSN Explorer for two versions with OTHER ex-IE people, and then all of us went back to Windows, merged with the IE Sustained Engineering team to create the current IE org.

Someone made a comment that this was a year ago but that isn't true. It has been nearly three years since we "got the band back together" to paraphrase Jake Blues. We shipped XPSP2 which was, effectively, IE6.2 or so. I was the lead that ran our Browser User Experience test team that worked on the Popup Blocker, the Information ("Gold") Bar, and a number of other feature areas.

I was the first person on the IE team, back then, to push the idea of RSS and blogging. The current Director of Test (then my test manager) on the IE team created the IEBlog not too long after that and I took it over a bit over a year ago.

I was also one of the proponents, just over the last six months or so, pushing towards having some kind of public bug database. Some people have said "So what?" to that but having it, along with the public blog for IE, and along with much of the other public stuff being done (like the public chats) are a HUGE change for how the IE team (and Microsoft, really) interacts with customers.

I've said this before but I'll say it again. It isn't a lack of passion around IE that caused me to leave. It's almost entirely based on my wife and I wanting to do something different (together) in life and to move to California. My wife grew up in Berkeley and hasn't lived there since college. We're in our mid-30s (I'll be 35 in August and she just turned 35) and I've been at Microsoft nine years in June (longer if you count my earlier time as a contractor). She wants to be near her family and I like the Bay Area. We have friends there.

I'm finishing up a Master's degree in Humanities (Philosophy) over the next year and my school and mentor are in California. I need to finish my thesis and consider whether I want to get a PhD. Additionally, as amusing as it is since I am "cranky Al" and have flamed people plenty before, I'm also studying to become a Tendai Buddhist priest and considering returning to some of my earlier volunteer work with state prisons.

All of this rambling adds up in total to the leaving of Microsoft being far more about me than it really is about Microsoft. The fact that our stock has been flat for five years and that I have been personally disappointed with how Vista has been handled are important as well but they are much more minor compared to my overall focus on quality of life.

Be Paid said...

Well, looks like among all these discussions on SA's, SPSA's, whatever, everyone managed to forget about old good MSFT stock options already.

Remember Billg saying how isuing the stock options awards was one of the biggest mistakes company has made?

Just think how the stock options work - whoever sells them, sells the promise to sell the amount of stock equal to the number of stock options at the strike price - that is, the stock price at the time of the grant was awarded.

When you were awarded the stock options, the company has promised you to sell you the stock at the strike price. Some were promised 1000 options, and some were promised 100000 options.

Now think about it - how many awarded and still unexpired options are out there today?

Now think about this - what if stock price goes up to $40? All the unexpired options holders will go wild and exercise right away - which means that the company will need to sell stock to them at $23, while forced to buy it at the market price at $40. Just think about it again, how many unexpired option awards is still out there?

What I'm trying to say is - maybe the company cannot afford the stock price rising above $30 - if this happens, the losses will be horrendous. Think - what was the actual reason for the stock options buyback program few years ago?

Call me the conspiracy theorist, maybe I am, I wish it was all my delusions.

But look, once the stock was sitting dangerously long close to $28 zone, this stupid mishap with forgetting to warn the Street about $2.4B investment lowering the planned profits happened. Every one company issues the warning up front in such situation, every single one, it's 101.

Does anyone really believe that the company head accountant along with CEO both didn't know what happens to the stock when the company issues unexpectedly low guidance for next quarter? Didn't they have any classes on about how stock market works while doing their MBA's? Didn't they at least, for Buddha's sake, nor any of their lieutenants at least watch Cramer's Mad Money on CNBC ever?

I just don't believe this stock price 'accident' was an accident, there are reasons for stock being stagnant for years now. There are ways of keeping profits low, spending $500M on marketing here, putting glass windows with Windows logo engraved into offices in entire building there, distributing the beatiful , colourful and expensive flyers on diversity subject to every single employee (yeah, at the same time we have very aggresive cost efficacy program going on). All this wasteful spending might well pay off - as long as the stock price is stagnant, the company earns huge savings on the expiring stock options.

Now tell me, please, that I know sh&^ about stock market and options - but please be strict, I'll be happy to learn that I was wrong.

Anonymous said...

I've never worked at Microsoft, however from reading all this so called "whining" I agree with mini that for Microsoft to survive you need to get rid of all the bloat.

Companies (and states) seem to have a typical growth pattern. At first dynamic growth until the point in time when the bureaurocrats take over and productivity and creativity suffer until a complete standstill has been reached. Then a slow but steadily faster decline when corruption of the ruling classes starts to take over.

Typical signs from a developers point of view for the bureaurocrats take over are: You cannot compile a project locally using a standard set of tools. It takes longer to document a defect than to fix it. The build process cannot be explained in a few simple sentences.

Pervasive "playing the game" - not doing what is good for all but is good for yourself - is a good indicator for corruption.

Good luck to you all...

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is a great place to work, if you get your priorities right.

As level 63 IC with window office, I enjoy excellent medical benefits for my entire family, a mentally stimulating environment of 2-hour lunches with my talented colleagues, and $120/hour paycheck, while having 50% of the workweek left over to pursue my startup idea.

This August, I will take another 3.5 and look forward to another year.

There's one thing I would change though - assigned parking for tenured employees like me. There are hardly any spots left at 11am.

Anonymous said...

"We've been working our asses off to make Vista into something halfway usable after getting the strategy shaft for three years. Thanks SQL team. Thanks Jim. At least we rolled back to a stable code base before it was too late. Kind of. But to imply that those of us building Windows don't care about customers and need to "get off our asses and innovate" is beyond insulting.

*$#*@ you."

I don't know which is funnier - that you take issue with my comments or that you do so coming from the Windows division of all places. Beyond that, your reply is a laundry list of excuses for failure, the usual internal blame game and - worst of all - self-admits that the goal for Vista is now to just get something "halfway usable". Success is about results - not effort. Vista, when it eventually ships, will be years late to market and have very little left that's innovative. And wrt customer-focused, just look at your adoption rates within the installed base to answer that one - or losses to OSS. I realize it's easier to blame the "good enough" factor, but did you ever stop to think that maybe you're just not delivering a sufficient value proposition for their needs? If you build a compelling product and market it correctly, people will buy it. If you build a marginally improved product with average marketing, people will slowly adopt it especially if there isn't much valid competition. Bottom line, MS is not an industry leader in innovation or customer-focus and needs to be both if its going to remain a key player. Oh and wrt the "^%*& you", grow up.

MSDecade said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Al Billings comes across as somebody with a serious chip on his shoulder and an overeager sense of entitlement. I'm glad he's gone.

But Dare should be more responsible too. His IE-bash was ill-informed.

Anonymous said...

how long does it take to get to level 63?

Anonymous said...

"I love the insightful (not) commentary on my leaving the IE team and the little flamewar with Dare. It actually does amuse me."

I understand your frustration and have routinely found Dare's comments to be way over the top, but imo all the two of your did was embarass yourselves personally and the company publicly. For the record, I think the latest version of IE is a decent improvement albeit that it still has little on FF or Maxthon - so kudos to the team on their efforts to date and keep up the progress.

Anonymous said...

"If MS already have 99% of the OS market and 99% of the Office buissnies there's not much room for growth in those markets is there?"

As Jack Welch and GE proved many years ago, when you think you've staturated your market, you need to expand your market definition. Normally, when you do that, you'll see that you have really only penetrated a fraction of the larger potential. Additionally, upgrade business within the installed base could be much better. So that represents opportunity for growth as well.

Anonymous said...

"Next year only $173.75 will be recognized for SPSAs."

Read that - thx. My question is how can the 10Q fully reflect the SPSA exposure when the payout amount itself (i.e. the sliding 33-150% rate) has yet to be determined? If I recall, the program provided upfront incentive and then the bulk of the rewards after 3 years (vesting over a couple of years from there). So unless you think partners are getting an average $520K (hugely doubtful), it's more likely that this amount only reflects the upfront component of SPSA and the bulk of it won't be reflected until the actual payout rate is determined and payments made in August. When all is said and done, I suspect the actual charge will be at least double your figure. Of course, if MS had simply detailed the "missing" $2.4B instead of refusing to until the analysts meeting, then this discussion would be mostly mute.

Anonymous said...

"Now tell me, please, that I know sh&^ about stock market and options - but please be strict, I'll be happy to learn that I was wrong."

Yes, it's nearly impossible to believe that Ballmer and his directs could be stupid enough to think they could deliver that earnings report/guidance and not tank the stock. Yes, a review of the company's actions over the past 3-5 years, certainly makes one wonder whether they haven't consciously been trying to keep the stock down. No, I'm not sure that it's because they can't afford the options exposure especially since a good chunk of that was offloaded to JPM (who I bet regrets that one). If anything, the concern is more likely that they don't want key employees to fuck off before Vista can be delivered and the largest refresh of products in 5 years successfully launched. Bottom line, I don't know what to make of it. Either they're really smart and simply have a planning horizon that exceeds even the most patient of investors, or they're simply clueless and/or more interested in securing their legacy than in driving results for shareholders. The street increasingly believes the latter and judging by insider sales, so do most of the top executives.

Anonymous said...

"....Now tell me, please, that I know sh&^ about stock market and options - but please be strict, I'll be happy to learn that I was wrong."

You may be onto something. Anyone know when the last batch of stock options were handed out.

Anonymous said...

Now tell me, please, that I know sh&^ about stock market and options - but please be strict, I'll be happy to learn that I was wrong

You might be right. From the 10-Q report filed with the SEC

http://www.microsoft.com/msft/download/FY06/MSFT_3Q2006_10Q.doc

As of March 31, 2006, 240 million options transferred to JPMorgan remained outstanding and are excluded from the amount noted as options outstanding in the table above. These options have strike prices ranging from $28.73 to $89.58 per share and have expiration dates extending through December 2006. Included in the options outstanding balance are approximately four million options that prices presented. These options have an exercise price range of $0 to $170.87 and a weighted average exercise prices presented. These options have an exercise price range of $0 to $170.87 and a weighted average exercise price of $12.27.


hhhhmmmmmm, when does Vista come out - January 2007. If I am reading this correctly, please correct me if I am wrong. Sometime before Dec 2006, the company will be able to get rid of 236 (240 – 4) million options priced between $28.73 to $89.58. So, it is in MSFT’s best interest to have the stock stay below $28.73 until December 2006. In addition, they can further reduce the number of options from the 4 million allocated since they are priced between $0 to $170.87. There is a reason why people tell you to dig deeply into a company’s financial statements, 10-Q, footnotes etc.

Anonymous said...

"President Jeff Raikes of Microsoft Corp.'s Business Division says Office software revenue could double from 2002 levels to reach $20 billion by 2010."

Does the concept of underpromising and overdelivering have ANY meaning at MSFT? To accomplish this goal, the IW division would have to grow at roughly 3X its current rate. While that would be fantastic, it seems like a pretty tall order and one therefore best left as an internal target and possible good news external surprise. Additionally, given that Raikes is the person who uttered the famous and seemingly hopelessly wrong pronouncement that MBS would be a $10B division by the end of the decade, you'd think he of all people would be more circumspect but apparently not. I guess maybe he has a few shares left despite his massive bails of the past few years and was hoping little jewels like this might stem the downward direction of the stock - at least until he can flush the remainder.

Anonymous said...

Ballmer announced today at Silicon Valley Campus that the company will announce substantial changes to the employee review system on May 18.

Anonymous said...

...also, when asked to review himself, Ballmer gave himself a 3.5

Who da'Punk said...

Random notes:

Which comment was that? Could I have a URL w/ an anchor?

If you're doing an MSN or Google search for this blog, it's better to use the phrase "Mini Microsoft" or link:minimsft.blogspot.com... for whatever you're trying to figure out.

M. Anti-Mini w/ all the "only 20-30 people only post here" etc etc - okay, I've been very fair in providing this point of view but that's that. Poppa needs some new schtick to not get bounced.

And...

Ballmer said what? 8-)

Anonymous said...

"Ballmer announced today at Silicon Valley Campus that the company will announce substantial changes to the employee review system on May 18."

I've heard this from reliable sources too. It is supposed to be major. Although it wouldn't surprise me if what Ballmer and HR think is major falls flat. Major at the very least would be abandoning the stack rank. At the most I could hope for, it's that and some of the mysterious $2.4B in form of company-wide >65th percentile adjustment that's so badly needed.

Anonymous said...

All these conspiracy theories about the $2.4 billion dollars... gimme a break.

In a word: Datacenters.

Or, in two words: Data Centers.

We want to beat google right? RIGHT?

Google has like 100 data centers around the world - that's why their perf and latency is so amazing.

How many does MSN/Live have? Hint: not 100. Hint: not around the world either.

http://www.kgw.com/sharedcontent/business/topstories2/032706cckkcwnatHightech.68f204d9.html

Anonymous said...

>>Major at the very least would be abandoning the stack rank.

Did you not attend any of LisaB's listening sessions? If so, you wouldn't be wondering about what the changes are.

Anonymous said...

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger answer the compensation question in their annual meeting as follows. WB is Warren Buffett and CM is Charlie Munger

Question:

What's the best way to design a compensation system in a highly cyclical industry, such as oil, that's prone to booms and busts, without avoiding overpaying people in the good times, and underpaying them during the bad ones?

WB: That's a terrific question. If you're a copper company and copper's at $3.50 a pound the way it is now, even the village idiot could run it and you'll make money. But once copper prices go down, it's a tough business. We design different compensation systems at Berkshire for the different businesses. Some of our businesses are very capital intensive. Some of our companies are in tough businesses. Some run themselves. So we have a wide variety of compensation systems. Often people have standardized systems, regardless of what business a company's in. That's crazy.

If we owned a copper company, we'd measure management's effectiveness by looking at the business's cost of production--not the price of copper. Management has control of operating conditions, not market prices. So management's comp wouldn't fluctuate a lot, even though the unit’s results might fluctuate a lot.

Tie compensation to what management can control and have an impact on. At Geico, for instance, we look at growth and profitability of seasoned business. (New business loses money for awhile.) Don't pay for the wrong things, or for what management can't control. I think it's ironic that energy executives are being paid well recently as oil prices have gone up, but then go up and testify before Congress that they don't have anything to do with high energy prices. Energy companies should pay management based on finding costs. If a company can achieve and maintain lower-than-average unit finding costs over an extended period, say 3 to 5 years, then management should be paid well.

CM: It's easy to have a fair compensation system. In about half of public companies, the top people are paid too much. Berkshire can't influence what other companies pay their executives, however.

WB: Berkshire owns 68 operating companies. I have responsibility for determining the comp of around 40 managers. I can't think of anyone we've lost due to differing views on compensation. We've never brought in compensation consultants. Maybe they have at the subsidiaries. (But if they have, they're smart enough to not tell me.) This is not rocket science. It's not something we spend a lot of time on. Complexity serves the needs of those who have their hands on the switch, such as the consultant or the compensation committee.

CM: We don't do well when we sit on comp committees. At Salomon Brothers, Warren was on the comp committee. When he remonstrated softly regarding how much some people were paid, he was outvoted. I think a lot of this isn't driven by greed, but rather by envy. Pay a guy $2 million, and he's happy--until he learns that the next guy got $2.1 million. Then he's miserable.

WB: I've always believed that of all the seven deadly sin, envy is the silliest. When you're envious, you're making yourself miserable. At least with the other deadly sins, you're enjoying yourself. Some of the best times I’ve ever had have come during sustained rounds of gluttony. And I won't even get into lust. But when you're envious, you feel miserable.

This new proposal by the S.E.C. for more full and transparent disclosure of executive comp is a good idea. But I'm afraid it could be counterproductive when executives see the full list of what other people are getting. It becomes a shopping list.

Anonymous said...

>>it's that and some of the mysterious $2.4B in form of company-wide >65th percentile adjustment that's so badly needed.

[breaks out world's smallest violin]

even a midpoint college hire L59 makes more 8% than the median income in Seattle Metro ($69,450).

http://www.efanniemae.com/sf/refmaterials/hudmedinc/hudincomeresults.jhtml?STATE=WA&choice=msa&CITY=seattle&FormsButton1=Search

heck, a L60 makes 19% more than the median. you guys live like kings.

want a "woe is me" story? try moving to svc where the median income is $94,150.

http://www.efanniemae.com/sf/refmaterials/hudmedinc/hudincomeresults.jhtml?STATE=CA&choice=msa&CITY=santa+clara&FormsButton1=Search

to have the same quality of life as a L60 in redmond, you'd have to be a L62 in svc.

so why do svc'ers work at msft, living like paupers and having to fly up weekly at 5am to meet with you redmond'ers? because they want msft to win.

that's passion.

Anonymous said...

I had heard rumors that the review system will undergo substantial changes along with some modest changes in the compensation plan. If Ballmer talked about just the review system, maybe the comp plan changes will be pulled. And we can blame the earnings report mishap for that. Who knows.

Anonymous said...

May 18th won't fall flat. All I have to say is: U go girl...

Anonymous said...

"...also, when asked to review himself, Ballmer gave himself a 3.5"

He must be giving himself 1 point for every hundred billion of shareholder value destroyed during his tenure.

Anonymous said...

All these conspiracy theories about the $2.4 billion dollars... gimme a break.

In a word: Datacenters.

Or, in two words: Data Centers.

-
In one word bs

In two words bu*$ $*it

Anonymous said...

Wait, PM, Test, and SDE all start out at level 59 out of college?

Anonymous said...

>how long does it take to get to >level 63?

I'm working on that. I hope 6 years for my case. I'm a dev at product group. I heard if you go non-productgroup, you can accelerate that. I started as entry level dev.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that "Technical Fellow" is now different from "Distinguished Engineer" in the address book?

Anonymous said...

I love the insightful (not) commentary on my leaving the IE team and the little flamewar with Dare. It actually does amuse me

And immature tripe like Al & Dare cussin at each other like a pair of 4 year olds has what to do with the subject of this blog post & its comments?

Sheesh. Reading the huge number of comments on blogger is hard enough without stuff like this falling under the moderation radar

Anonymous said...

"He must be giving himself 1 point for every hundred billion of shareholder value destroyed during his tenure."

Yes, that would go a long way to explaining the recent earnings call/guidance disaster. Without that shaving another $40B off our market cap, he would have only lost $320B so far which, using your formula and rounding down, would have given him a 3.0 - and you know what happens when you get those...

Kidding aside (though it's not really a lughing matter), does anyone know if he actually said he deserved a 3.5? If so, then I finally have to throw in the towel and concede that he's officially lost it and perhaps certifiably so.

Anonymous said...

The "envy" post was interesting. But think about people that provoke envy like Mr. Pseudo-partner (I'm thinking that "psuedo-partner" is a partner wannabe that happened to know something about the program.)

A little digging suggests that the partners aren't going to be quite as happy in September as has been implied here (although still rewarded for meeting SPSA goals), while the non-partners are going to be happier than they expect.

Lisa not only listened, she acted. Have faith.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini, best article yet on MSFT:

Microsoft Investors Urge Ballmer to Use Cash on $60 Bln Buyback

Looks like large shareholders are beginning to finally put some real pressure on Ballmer to get serious about driving the stock. Some notable quotes:

"``How can you have a CEO who is really indifferent to the price of the stock?'' said Joseph Rosenberg, chief investment strategist at New York-based Loews Corp. ``He has his head in the sand.'' Rosenberg has managed money for the Tisch family, which controls Loews, for more than 30 years."

"The stock is the second-worst performer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average this year."

"``Ballmer has basically isolated himself,'' Rosenberg said. Loews owned 1.6 million Microsoft shares as of March 31. ``He seems not to want to talk to financial people or to receive advice directly from financial people.'' "

And best of all:

"Microsoft needs to show it is acting to boost the stock and appease shareholders, said Heather Bellini at UBS AG in New York, who is ranked the No. 2 software analyst by Institutional Investor magazine.

``Previously, the problem was apathy on the stock,'' she said. ``Now the apathy has been replaced with anger.''"

Well what do you know, you go 8 years with a flat stock, underperform the market for four years running, are second worst performer on the DOW this year despite that massive underperformance and eventually, people get pissed-off. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

And immature tripe like Al & Dare cussin at each other like a pair of 4 year olds has what to do with the subject of this blog post & its comments?

Al Billings's behavior and comments are a microcosm of what's wrong with the company. As such, it deserves to be scrutinized to see if/how we can learn lessons.

And in case you hadn't noticed, people often leaves links to news extremely relevant to the Mini-MSFT agenda which aren't necessarily ontopic taken in the context of the particular blog post.

Finally, such flamewars are funny, especially when they're between 2 people who have made themselves generally detested. They deserve comment on the basis of humor value.

Anonymous said...

The big change ...

1. Fine Gradation in scores going away

3 grades only. Exceeds, Meets, Doesn't Meet

2. Marginally better compensation. Nothing to write home about though

Anonymous said...

The reason for most of the bitterness towards executives and their compensation is peoples' innate sense of fairness, not envy or an overblown sense of entitlement.

The people who do all the work at Microsoft are getting paid a small fraction of what the managers get for hardly doing any work and not taking responsibility for any of their failures. How is this fair?

Of course, life isn't fair, but you can't fault people for being angry about it.

Anonymous said...

"Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger answer the compensation question in their annual meeting as follows. WB is Warren Buffett and CM is Charlie Munger"

This is a terrific post, thanks for sharing it.

You can take this even a step further, and ask that execs whose comp is tied to stock performance have that performance adjusted for the systemic movement in the market -- iow, to not reward someone for their boat rising because the ocean level is going up. But since Ballmer doesn't have equity value as a commitment, it's mute for us.

Anonymous said...

"Wait, PM, Test, and SDE all start out at level 59 out of college?"

In test and dev, yes, this is the standard new hire level in many groups.

Now many of them don't really deserve to be this level, but it's the minimum level the VP in the group will let them hire at.

As someone who busted his ass to rise through the ranks, this sort of thing pisses me off. A new hire that doesn't know jack shit and hasn't proven him/herself makes a lot more than people who have proven themselves for many years.

And here's a hint if you want to rise through the ranks quickly: Don't go to the Windows group. I've heard many people say that up to level 62 or so that it's easy to get a promo. Not the case in the Windows division.

Anonymous said...

while the non-partners are going to be happier than they expect.

-

You know what, the morale is already in the toilet. Giving another 2% raise for non partners and million+ for partners aint gonna solve nothing.

Anonymous said...

"Trust me! It ain’t gonna happen. Upper management cares about you, but only to the extent that you will start voting with your feet. Complacency is their friend and they know that they can push things pretty far before it breaks. They will ooze with empathy in public meetings and will go on listening tours and will talk about the great changes coming, but looking historically management does not care unless that are faced with massive unrest or legal issues."

Want to get their (Partner and exec's) attention? Here's how:

Every single dev in Windows beginning Monday morning, stands outside in front of building 34, and stays there with some folks from the Teamsters. Work stoppage until:
(a) the spsa is canceled;
(b) 2 board seats are replaced with union reps
(c) the other six board member's seats are immediately put up for vote, and none of senior management's shares are allowed to vote on this. (Didn't anyone ever notice that senior management's shareholdings put them at a conflict of interest with the other owners of the company?)

If management refuses to agree, start torching a couple of on campus data centers, and turn on Bitlocker on all your dev boxes.

that will get their attention. Nothing short of that will. for anyone who doubts what's going on, go read about the Homestead riots in Pittsburgh at Carnegie's Homestead Mill. (Why do you think we have as squad of executive protection folks?)

Anonymous said...

> stays there with some folks from the Teamsters...start torching a couple of on campus data centers

Ah, at last a person who is honest about what unions are for: extortion.

Anybody here still considering joining them should read the the recent Slashdot article on IT unionization. The first-hand accounts of unionized work environments are nothing short of hair-raising.

Anonymous said...

David Sobeski is a parnter? I thought honesty was a company value.

Anonymous said...

But since Ballmer doesn't have equity value as a commitment, it's mute for us.

Moot, actually.

(I know, I hate spelling nazis too, but this is twice within the span of a dozen or so posts).

Anonymous said...

to have the same quality of life as a L60 in redmond, you'd have to be a L62 in svc.

Don't do a disservice to the readers by not posting all the facts. You conveniently forgot to mention svc folks get a 15% salary adjusment for the cost of living there.

Anonymous said...

> I thought honesty was a company value.

Good parody site. Oh wait, that's on microsoft.com!

Especially good is that MS's mission statement doesn't mention software.

c said...

Google has like 100 data centers around the world - that's why their perf and latency is so amazing.

Datacenters? Datacenters won't fix what's wrong. Google is MUCH web-savvy than we are. Let's look at homepages, shall we?

www.google.com: 2 HTTP requests
www.live.com: 114 HTTP requests

Google's homepage totals 13k. To load live.com, I have to _send_ 75k. Most of the script on live.com is uncompressed, requests for the same images are repeated up to 10 times, etc. It's embarassing.

Datacenters don't fix this.

Anonymous said...

David Sobeski is a parnter?

I told you all how to figure out who the partners are. Still think they can single handedly save this company?

Think about it... Most of the partners were raised in the day where the desktop was king. When they studied in college, there was no internet. If they connected to another computer, it was probably done using a 300 baud modem.

They came to Microsoft and built client side, unconnected applications. Microsoft grew at a rapid rate during this period, and they grew along with it (in terms of power, wealth, and title).

Our partners are for the most part, out of touch with the reality of today's software landscape. Most have NEVER launched an online service, never pushed bits to servers around the world, never configured a load balancer, performed calculations for a denial of service monitor, never written log analyzers needed to diagnose problems on live services. And just in case some of you say you have done this, let me quickly call BS... What I mean by doing is actually doing, nat "watching over". In your day, you ran kernel debuggers, wrote code, debugged problems, coded new features, etc. Going through this experience first hand taught you many skills. One skill you learned is how to estimate complexity, how to break a project down into bite sized pieces, etc. You learned this on a disconnected and isolated pc centric environment.

The environment that Microsoft has decided to wage war in is very different from the war that you knew how to fight in your day. Who, among Microsoft's senior leaders, the people calling the shots, the people guiding the strategy, has touched a line of code recently? Who among them have tried to debug a live, online service running on 500 machines distributed around the world? Who has actually written the code, the logging, the monitoring infrastructure, the deployment and management scripts that are needed to develop successful software in this environment.

I don't think the partners can save this company, BUT I do think they can drive it into the ground. Look at something simple like WinFS. This was an invention of Bill, David, and Peter. Managed by Quentin and built by Winnie and others. Their dream was for a rich data platform, something that developers would embrace, something that would take over the network. Note that WinFS had no reasonable network centric design, something that could cope with multiple nodes with unsynchronized schema, a design that could aggregate queries across unreliable networks, etc. The data model was a classic, MS, client centric proprietary design. Definitely not something that would thrive or even have a chance of succeeding on in the environment that we are trying to wage war in. During the years that Microsoft has wasted on WinFS, the RSS/Atom camp has thrived in an open and network centric model.

If we are depending on our partners, we need a new batch of partners. Partners that have lived the network model first hand. Have built the complex services themselves, have debugged the problems, developed the designs, deployed the bits. We need people leading this new war that have first hand experience.

The trade offs and design decisions that you need to make in the network world are very different than the ones that you needed to make in the client centric, pc centric world that our current batch of partners grew up in. If we think our current partners have the skills, the vision, and the engineering talent needed to lead us in this new war with Google, we are being delusional. Our partners are not going to win this battle for us, our CSA is not going to help us here. What about our CTOs? You think Graig or David have ANY relevant skills or vision? Maybe Ray, but even here, Ray is long on vision, short on first hand, in the trenches experience.

I don't want to throw unwarranted praise on Google. But just for a moment, lets look at their engineering staff and the skills they are developing. Every single Google engineer is living in this new world night and day. They live and breath network computing. Every single engineer has deployed and tested bits running on data centers around the world. They know first hand that packets get lost, that applications must recover, that disk drives fail to spin up, the data must be geo distributed, etc. My point is that these guys have the skills today, and are growing similar engineers by the boatload, that are relevant in todays service oriented computing environment. Just like in it's day, when eric rudder was a grunt working on vb, he was buiilding the skills needed to thrive in the pc centric environment.

Look at Google's GFS or MapReduce. In these two systems you see pure network centric designs. Field tested systems running in their nth iteration on thousands of machines all over the world. The engineers that designed these systems are worthy of partner status. They have earned their stripes working in this network centric world. They are very much the equivalent of the Mark Zibakowski's of Microsoft, BUT If I was in this battle for network supremecy, I think I would take Jeff Dean over Markz any day of the week. Jeff knows how to talk the talk, but more importantly, he knows how to "walk the walk", and he has built relevant, mass scale distributed systems. Markz is no dummy. He clearly knows how to "talk the talk", BUT he has no first hand experience in this space, has never personally made the rookie mistakes, has never had to debug distributed deadlocks, deal with the complexities involved in mass scale distributed computing. If I had Markz vs. Jeff Dean leading two teams in this space. I would bet on Jeff to accurately predict and avoid the pitfalls, to lead the design, to predict the schedule, to understand the limits, to estimate the engineering resources required, to enderstand the hardware and network resources more accurately, etc.

I guess my fear is that we are waging the wrong war with the wrong enemy, and somehow we have this beleif that our esteemed partners, csa's, and cto's can lead the way. I think we are fighting a war with the wrong leaders in place, and are fighting in a space that we dont have the skills to succeed in. It will be a war over several years that will defocus us and cause us to ignore our current set of customers. Windows, Office, our Enterprise server business. The places where we actually make money will suffer as we focus on this new space and start building our skills there.

I personally think that this war with Google will cost us a bunch of money and credibility. It will drive our core customers to linux, apple, and other alternatives as we let their current products stagnate.

I worry that David Sobeski might not be the best equipped engineer to lead Microsoft into battle with Google. If David represents the skill set of our esteemed partners, we are in for a wild ride...

Anonymous said...

"But since Ballmer doesn't have equity value as a commitment, it's mute for us."

The CEO of a publicly-traded company has a fudiciary responsibility to enhance shareholder value and therefore to care about the stock. Ballmer can make statement's like last year's infamous "we've never really viewed the stock as a barometer of success" (at the shareholder's meeting no less), but any employee who's been around pre-00 knows that's complete bullshit and more importantly, it's his job to care. It's also integral to employee morale/attraction/retention. The fact that he's confused on that point, is just another reason why he's unfit to continue in his present capacity. If he keeps burying his head in the sand re the miserable performance of the stock, shareholder's will eventually have enough and he will get turfed. Of course, at that point, MSFT will likely be in the mid-teens.

Anonymous said...

But think about people that provoke envy like Mr. Pseudo-partner (I'm thinking that "psuedo-partner" is a partner wannabe that happened to know something about the program.)

Or this guy could be legit. Either a partner that has one foot out the door, or that has recently left? Someone that is trying to show you all how twisted this enron-like corporation is behaving in its death spiral...

goleta said...

"Our partners are for the most part, out of touch with the reality of today's software landscape. Most have NEVER launched an online service, never pushed bits to servers around the world, never configured a load balancer, performed calculations for a denial of service monitor, never written log analyzers needed to diagnose problems on live services."


How about a mega merger with CSCO which is seeing more and more of its future in the consumer market and therefore came the aquization of Scientific Atlanta, the number two set top box company?

The networking industry is pretty much dominated by CSCO and companies run by its ex-employees.

MSFT and CSCO seem like perfect complements to each other?

Anonymous said...

I worry that David Sobeski might not be the best equipped engineer to lead Microsoft into battle with Google.

You're confused. He's not leading the Google battle, he's leading the Apple battle. And he's one of the most hands-on-code partners you're going to find.

Anonymous said...

``How can you have a CEO who is really indifferent to the price of the stock?'' said Joseph Rosenberg, chief investment strategist at New York-based Loews Corp. ``He has his head in the sand.''

Ballmer is more sure of himself in some areas than in others ... like endorsing the cut of minimum 6.5% of workforce annually. Ballmer is skilled at brutality and math (mainly subtraction.) However, he is much less versed in creative decision-making. Better to let guys like Ray Ozzie share the reins of power.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised by all the Steve bashing. Steve didn't just drop in out of nowhere to become CEO, he partnered with Bill to build this company into what it is. Consider the environment of the last 5 years and ask yourself who could have done better.

Also consider that Steve is about the least expensive CEO we could have. From the proxy:

Their salaries are significantly below competitive levels elsewhere in the information technology industry and large market capitalization U.S. companies, and they do not participate in the Company’s equity compensation program. They are eligible for an annual bonus of up to 120% of their salary based on a review of performance against objectives for the year. As the leaders of the Company they are focused on building long-term success, and as significant shareholders in the Company, their personal wealth is tied directly to sustained increases in the Company’s value.

So two things: Steve (and Bill) feel the effects of the stock price more than any other active employee, and any replacement for Steve would likely be far more expensive.

Anonymous said...

Wait, someone said Test and SDE both start out at lvl 59.

What about PM? Do they start lower because they are considered less "skilled" ?

Which one ramps up levels the fastest?

Anonymous said...

I told you all how to figure out who the partners are. Still think they can single handedly save this company?

Great post.

Why go as high as partners. Even Group Program Managers/PUMs talk down to "low-level" engineers without knowing how shit actually works. Having a lot of vision while being disconnected from reality is not going to get results. It might get promotions however.

Anonymous said...

Datacenters? Datacenters won't fix what's wrong.

Nope. But its the only think Steve can focus on with the one asset we have...

He is going to bankrupt us in this public war with Google. He is going to pour endless $$'s into data centers and network capacity and then discover that he doesn't have the software to put in those centers. He will hire like crazy, buy some lucky startups, and still come up short.

While he is chasing Google, our enterprise customers will simply move on to linux, ibm, and open source middleware, our pc os monopoly will vanish as people move to macs and linux based desktops. We will be left with nothing but a second rate search engine with $3b/yr in ad revenue... A small fraction of our current financials...and some ad revenue...

Anonymous said...

>>>>to have the same quality of life as a L60 in redmond, you'd have to be a L62 in svc.
>>>>Don't do a disservice to the readers by not posting all the facts. You conveniently forgot to mention svc folks get a 15% salary adjusment for the cost of living there.

Whoever posted, the different of level is right, and since you want all the facts, we also pay ~7% state tax, that you guys don't have to pay in Redmond. If you add up to that the entire live differential between SVC and Seattle then, the 8% difference between SVC and Redmond, does not even make for 2 levels higher at the current compensation rate. Everyone from SVC that moves up to Redmond, the first thing they do is to buy a house and email
the pictures of all their friends down here that are renting a 2B/1Bt for $2000, clearly stating that their monthly loan is lower that what they used to pay for renting.

At the current rate of hiring in Google and Apple, you can image the type of candidate we can get at SVC, for that money, and if we hire someone good, it comes up a few levels higher than anyone working here for a while, which pissed everyone off, (people fired from other companies are hired as “architects”) and send a clear message that you need to leave and come back to go up in level, and even though, hope for an earthquake to be able to buy a house, since the stock is like monopoly money.

Anonymous said...

Good parody site. Oh wait, that's on microsoft.com!

Especially good is that MS's mission statement doesn't mention software.
-
Microsoft's core competency is HR, finance, sales and legal not software. Look which departments hired the most after the dot com bust.

Anonymous said...

This was an invention of Bill, David, and Peter. Managed by Quentin and built by Winnie and others.

Let us not forget, Quentin, prior to running to WinFS, had some 300 people working for 2 years on something called SMX, which was so poorly designed it collapsed under its own weight. 600 MAN YEARS! He deftly stepped off the mess as it collapsed and started his work in WinFS.

And these are the people who are supposed to save Microsoft?

Anonymous said...

Their salaries are significantly below competitive levels elsewhere in the information technology industry and large market capitalization U.S. companies, and they do not participate in the Company’s equity compensation program. They are eligible for an annual bonus of up to 120% of their salary based on a review of performance against objectives for the year. ... blah blah blah

I joined Microsoft in 1990, and I was paid peanuts... I just needed the money for the rent and to pay for the food. After a while I didnt need the salary and I didnt need any more stocks options either.

I never made it to a partner and I couldnt care less for a promotion or a review for that matter. There you have it...

Anonymous said...

"You're confused. He's not leading the Google battle, he's leading the Apple battle. And he's one of the most hands-on-code partners you're going to find."

We're battling apple? Aren't we getting our ass handed to us in enough spaces right now?

Hopefully he'll come up with something to battle those bullshit Apple "attack ads" running every 5 minutes (at least in the Seattle area).

-------------
"What about PM? Do they start lower because they are considered less "skilled" ? "
I answered the earlier question about test/dev only because I don't know what level PM's start at. PM's have a different skillset, so it's hard to directly compare. I've seen some PM's come in that have very few technical skills. Some of them aren't much more than professional meeting goers/creators.

Anonymous said...

Come on mini...post something new so we don't have to keep beating this dead horse :P

Anonymous said...

pm, test and dev all start at 59.

The growth is dev > pm > test. At the partner level 80% of the non business folks are devs, the rest mostly PM with a sprinkling of test.

Microsoft is still, for whatever the comments on this blog may make you believe, a meritocracy. Yes there is politics and there is non motivated senior people. But its not easy to rise through the ranks just by being political, at least i havent seen that happen too much.

Anonymous said...

He is going to bankrupt us in this public war with Google. He is going to pour endless $$'s into data centers and network capacity and then discover that he doesn't have the software to put in those centers. He will hire like crazy, buy some lucky startups, and still come up short.

While he is chasing Google, our enterprise customers will simply move on to linux, ibm, and open source middleware, our pc os monopoly will vanish as people move to macs and linux based desktops. We will be left with nothing but a second rate search engine with $3b/yr in ad revenue... A small fraction of our current financials...and some ad revenue...

>
Look, this is a perfect way to kill Microsoft. This could yet happen, come back in four years. We have taken the right trajectory. The quality of the people hired for the data centers continues to sink.

Anonymous said...

In any organization you need hard charging people as well as execution oriented people. The former provide ideas and the latter execute them. ... In the MS model, the former are the stars (start many things, complete nothing) and the latter (steady execution) are the 3.5s and 3.0s.

This is a comment to the previous post, but it resonates here as well. I've certainly found this to be true. We are absolutely more incented to come up with Powerpoint-ware than to do the hard work involved in seeing a product through to ship. I actually got this feedback from a director in Windows: "you're just turning the crank." Damn right I was. I was getting a very opinionated team to work together to a common goal, removing blocking issues, and in every other way getting this product closer to ship-ready.

Meanwhile, this particular director's pet project was going down in flames, while he was too busy polishing his own Powerpoint-ware for his execs.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised by all the Steve bashing. Steve didn't just drop in out of nowhere to become CEO

Bill/Steve were/are frat buddies. Bill doesn't like to feel pain of any sort so when the DOJ came calling he quickly made Steve CEO and annointed himself Chief Architect. We were/are riding a monopoly and (as you know) in a monopoly everyone is a genius. With that monopoly position losing (a bit) of steam to the likes of open source, apple, google, writely, firefox, etc. the shortcomings of leadership are becoming evident. What is evident to me is that if bill didn't outright give steve the CEO position, steve wouldn't have attained the position in another company, on his own, under any circumstances whatever. Those are the cards we're dealt. Some of us are calling for a re-shuffle. We like a leader who understands and likes technology, who likes people, who knows what people like, and is willing to use all that savvy to inspire his charges and fire some innovation. at this point, steveb is more or less a figurehead/bean counter and I would say his approval rating is steadily declining. Is the answer to make bill CEO again? I don't know, but whatever's happening right now isn't really working.

Anonymous said...

You're confused. He's not leading the Google battle, he's leading the Apple battle. And he's one of the most hands-on-code partners you're going to find.

You have got to be kidding me (or, more than likely, this post was written by david?).

What production/shipping code has david personally written, debugged, and checked in? This guy is 100% all talk. The absolute epitomy of whats wrong today with Microsoft middle management/partners. They all think their strength is "vision and strategey", but thats because none of them could code their way out of a wet paper bag!

If David is leading our war with Apple, its no wonder they are kicking our a%$$#sses!

By the way, why are we at war with everyone? Don't we know how to participate in the industry as a peer? Why do we have to crush anyone with buzz?

Given that many of our customers are investigating Linux, I wonder why we don't have a Microsoft Linux Distribution? Something that we could sell service for? Something we could sell SQl, Exchange, Office Servers for? As a software company, you would think that this would be right up our alley and would be vastly cheaper than spending billions to fight Google. Maybe some of our esteemed partners should ponder this, commision a study, or hold a strategey offsite to discuss?

Anonymous said...

Some observations ...

I'm a long time lurker but avid reader of this blog. I'm a L68 partner (GM) at Microsoft - I thought this was one of the better posts and I specially enjoyed the spirited comments (many insightful, some negative, few balanced) here.

1. I appreciate goals of transparency behind the description of partner goals + mechanics but it was inappropriate to post w/o context. I realize this is hard to swallow but modern corporations pay larger rewards to the top people in a company. The CEO is paid more than the VP, the VP is paid more than the GM, the GM is paid more than the Director, etc. People who have risen to certain levels are folks who are seen as people critical to the success of the corporation. This is reality anywhere and everywhere and let's be big enough to deal with it.

2. Politics in organization - again a GROUND REALITY. Just as we go into the marketplace we do whatever we take to fight and win, we as individuals do the same to rise in organizations. Some of us are successful and some of us are not. This is human nature and again reality. Did I earn my GM position fair and square? - yes. Did I have to play some politics to get there? - yes. Did I have to bury a few bodies to get there? - yes. Seems to me you want somebody like me to lead the battle (whatever it may be) versus somebody who is not willing to play 'games'.

3. RE: were the SPSA goals the right ones - who knows? It seemed right at the time. It still seems right to me as those goals are the drivers of the business (forgetting versions). Then again, we face new wars and threats. So the honest answer is I don't know.

4. RE: do we have the right folks in place - here I say no! We have moribund and lethargic leadership at the partner level and above. Specially in the senior leadership. Most of the folks have tasted failure and are too schooled in the MS model. Over the past year or two, I have been observing the lack of accountability and true leadership in my group and it saddens me. There are few risk takers left and most partners are worried about territorial ambitions rather than breakout performance. Yes they earned their positions but these are the wrong people for the company's future as they are too grounded in the past. And I include myself in this sentiment. We have chased away leaders who bring the new thinking required to the company. Yes I can resign but I worry about the next level too - they are not seasoned enough and we haven't provide enough opportunities to season or grow these leaders.

Bottom line, we are at a turning point in this company.

Anonymous said...

" - yes. Seems to me you want somebody like me to lead the battle (whatever it may be) versus somebody who is not willing to play 'games'."

- i don't think anyone suggested such non-sense.

What exactly have you dont to improve the company versus improve your career aspirations? You clearly have not read or understood so many points in this thread or blog in general. Your the type of egocentrical ass which is making this company a poor place to work and certainly making MS unsuccessful. You got your so that is OK? not.

Anonymous said...

Yes they earned their positions but these are the wrong people for the company's future as they are too grounded in the past. And I include myself in this sentiment.

Thanks for posting that and don't worry that the commenter after you completely missed your point. Well, you've just described the innovator's dilemma: those who create the empire then need to protect it (and themselves). The "MS Software for Linux" idea has been furiously debated too, with the decision that it's too risky to our crown jewels (the Windows franchise).

So, I like your post, but what do we do??

Anonymous said...

4. RE: do we have the right folks in place - here I say no! We have moribund and lethargic leadership at the partner level and above. Specially in the senior leadership. Most of the folks have tasted failure and are too schooled in the MS model. Over the past year or two, I have been observing the lack of accountability and true leadership in my group and it saddens me. There are few risk takers left and most partners are worried about territorial ambitions rather than breakout performance. Yes they earned their positions but these are the wrong people for the company's future as they are too grounded in the past. And I include myself in this sentiment. We have chased away leaders who bring the new thinking required to the company. Yes I can resign but I worry about the next level too - they are not seasoned enough and we haven't provide enough opportunities to season or grow these leaders.

Where will the replacements for senior leadership come from?

If they come from within the company, they will be people at your level. These are the people you say are not ready to lead the company.

Microsoft has a monopoly so does it really matter?

Who really needs a new version of Office or Windows? It doesn't matter what the answer is. They going to get one anyway. Another upgrade cycle will happen anyway.

Eventually, Microsoft will stop supporting the current versions of Office and Windows and new PC's will ship with new versions of Office and Windows.

With a monopoly, the market place can't keep a company honest by forcing them to put the right people in place to stay competitive.

The problem will take care of itself when something significantly better than Office and Windows comes along to cause customers to make a change.

In the mean time, work for a company where there's a real risk of failure if you want to sharpen your skills.

davidso fan said...

If David is leading our war with Apple, its no wonder they are kicking our a%$$#sses!

Hey, davidso rocks! He is a brilliant, brilliant man. He earned his stripes working on key parts of VB, IE, Java frameworks, MSN properties (in fact one of his many patents, the so called super cookie, has just been granted). He was technical assistant to DavidV advising DV on important technologies including the ones in Great Plains (now Microsoft Dynamics). Now he's in charge of key components of Vista such as the sidebar.

David has an eye for great design and he understands that he and others are willing to pay a premium for it. He also understands how to tie features into scenarios better than most people.

He totally gets the Apple experience. So much so, Apple wanted him for VP of Engineering, but Microsoft begged him to stay.

Regarding the honesty comment. Honesty is overrated. He knows how to say what he needs to say in order to get the effect he wants.

David is the future of Microsoft. I hope he makes it all the way.

Steve said...

Honesty is overrated...No wonder society is so screwed up!

Anonymous said...

Where will the replacements for senior leadership come from?

Google?

Anonymous said...

Whoever posted, the different of level is right, and since you want all the facts, we also pay ~7% state tax, that you guys don't have to pay in Redmond.

This is correct, we don't pay ~7%, we pay between 8.4% and 8.8% in King County. In WA no less than 7.2%, with the average over 8%.

http://dor.wa.gov/Docs/forms/ExcsTx/LocSalUseTx/LocalSlsUseFlyer_Quarterly.pdf

Anonymous said...

Apparently noone has seen the latest issue of fortuner.

Anyone with half a brain can read between the lines- Ozzie is taking Bill's slot, Johnson is taking Steve's slot, and Rudder will be on Core.

Anonymous said...

This is correct, we don't pay ~7%, we pay between 8.4% and 8.8% in King County. In WA no less than 7.2%, with the average over 8%.

(I live in Redmond.) You misunderstood the poster. They were referring to STATE INCOME TAX. Washington is one of a very few states that does not have one. Most people have to pay income taxes not just to the Feds but to the state as well. Californians typically have sales taxes higher than here, and they have state income taxes to boot.

As I said, I live in Redmond. I also know what Mountain View is like. The SVC posters are being generous. Comparing 'average income' isn't even fair. The average house down there is old, small, on a small yard, and so expensive that if you looked at some online Mountain View real estate web pages, you'd be sure that they must be in error. So even comparing the average cost of a home isn't accurate. What you get for that average cost is wildly different.

Microsoft proudly pays in the 65th percentile here in Redmond. They do at SVC too. The only hedge those people have is that 15% cost-of-living differential, and it doesn't come close to making up the difference.

It might hurt to admit it, but we have it better here financially. (Not that we're overpaid; being proud to be in the 65th percentile is like being proud to bring home a 'D' on your report card.) The only advantage that SVC people have is that as the enconomy improves, more can give Microsoft the finger much more comfortably than those in the Puget Sound area (those lead handcuffs really don't seem persuasive). There are a lot more other employers down there than up here!

(Microsoft leadership should pray that nobody like Cisco or Oracle starts major hiring up here, and that startups stay scarce here. It would not take much for the talent leak to be more than just to Google.)