Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Open Letter to Steve Ballmer

Dear Steve,

I am sure I caught you at a bad time… you must be on the phone with Carl, while you are texting Bill with "WTF dude?!?! Why are you selling?" But when you can please pay close attention to what I say, because I say it with love (I was the one that bought the only copy of Bad Boy Ballmer sold) and respect (I am the guy that sent you the uRock email). I believe that you've got it all wrong. You are fighting a battle that you don't need to fight, and you are losing a war that you need to win. You've been playing a lot of golf with the President? Oh wait, the President is not golfing any more… for respect! Hmmm, maybe I need to send him a letter too. But let's focus on you and MSFT for now:

I loved it when you took over from Bill. Always thought of you as the consumer guy… always believed that you will understand the edge a lot better than Bill did. Bill was the core strategy guy, so much so that MSFT's internal org structure was hub n spokes… and we all know he was super successful doing it his way. So when Billy said he was leaving MSFT to change the world (irony: Bill Gates is doing philanthropy like he did technology… from the core… Bill the edge needs you!!)handing over the company to his best bud – I got all excited.

And MSFT did undergo a transformation under you. Splitting the company up into 7 semi autonomous divisions was a bright idea! got a make-over and started offering longer trials, with a focus on problem solving and customer service. Change was coming… but no it was Vista that came. Now don't get me wrong… it is a pretty okay OS… umm well correction it is a pretty OS. I used it for a while and then upgraded to XP. And boy you guys did a good job with XP!

I know you already know that the client-server model is becoming increasingly redundant, and with that MSFT is becoming irrelevant. Google is breathing down your neck and you sure must be feeling like throwing something right about now. But relax. You and MSFT do try and solve problems… but the way you them is wrong. And that is what makes the difference between profitability and sustainability. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Open Windows up. No, no. Put that chair down and hear me out. I heard about you calling Linux communism (that comment must not have resonated quite the way you wanted in China). But that is the future dude… open platforms that networks will morph to best suit their needs and pump the value at the edge to the core. It is a different world now. It requires a different approach.
  • Move from semi-autonomous divisions to independent divisions. Make your 7 divisions completely independent of each other. The cancer that is growing in the desktop systems should not spread to the Xbox… I love the Xbox. Do it before you get "sovietized."
  • Get Umair Haque on the MSFT Board. He can be a little sensitive at times… but I am sure you understand.
  • Promote the product strategist for Sharepoint. I think Sharepoint rocks!
  • Buy Facebook before you buy Yahoo. And open Facebook up. If Mark is open to it, have him talk to the dude responsible for Sharepoint. You will find that they have a lot in common… and will learn from each other.
  • If you do end up owning Yahoo, don't assimilate them. Learn, adopt, change and become more like them. Yahoo does a lot of things right… and human resources is one of them.
  • Drop the People Ready campaign… people are ready. Knowledge workers are not a new phenomenon; they existed when Bill was drafting the first copy of Business at the Speed of Thought. How does People Enabled sound? =)
  • Silverlight is hot but it is a little dense for people like me. You better start talking about the problem it solves, rather than the value it creates.
  • .NET – how about .NOT?!?! Please abandon.

Ok that is all for now. I should publish this before Vista conks out on me… j/k. Oh by the way – I love Office 2007!


PS: My Xbox 360 has the red ring of death? Who do I call?