Vanity Fair has written an article titled “Microsoft’s Lost Decade.” The article specifically targets Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “Once upon a time, Microsoft dominated the tech industry,” wrote Vanity Fair. “But since 2000, as Apple, Google, and Facebook whizzed by, it has fallen flat in every arena it entered: e-books, music, search, social networking, etc., etc.” Vanity Fair’s tl;dr article was 6 pages of Microsoft’s history and slip-ups. John Biggs of TechCrunch followed up the Vanity Fair article titled “Microsoft’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Decade.” These articles did not sit very well with Frank X. Shaw, the CVP of Corporate Communications at Microsoft. Below is his response:
There are so many things wrong with this that I don’t even know where to start. I’ll leave the C# comment alone, since others have already zombie bashed Biggs for that one. Instead, I’ll focus on some equally other poorly reasoned points. Let’s start by simply dismissing anything that relies on Eichenwald’s piece in VF, where he pretends to be an expert on all things ms and performance management, cleverly neglecting to mention that nearly every company has a perf management system, and that all have plusses and minuses. In case nobody noticed, we don’t live in a Lake Woebegone or Pee Wee Soccer worlds!
I’m not clear what decade Biggs is talking about here, but let’s look at some numbers while Steve B has been CEO. How about:
?tripled revenue from $23 billion in 2000 to $70 billion in 2011.
?increased profits from $9 billion in 2000 to $23 billion in 2011.
?returned $194 billion to shareholders via dividends and stock buyback.
Hmm, those look pretty good. And what about products that sell, you know, like windows 7 and Office of all stripes, and oh yeah, hmm, I’m forgetting something…let me think… oh, got it! During the same period, Microsoft also created entirely new businesses, such as Xbox, the #1 gaming console in the world last year and Kinect, a pretty darn hot consumer electronic device. And, the company?s enterprise Server & Tools business grew significantly in the same time period, reaching $17 billion in 2011. Gee, lost has NEVER looked so good.
Finally, how do you square words like “sclerotic” with what we’ve done with Windows 8, the new Office, Widows Azure, the great reviews for windows phone, Kinect, Halo freaking 4 on its way, Xbox as entertainment hub, the social integration in Bing that makes Google’s SPY world look as cheesy as it really is and so on?
Hey, feel free to take shots at us. Call us out when we miss or mess up. But when you tell us we lost a decade, then look at the whole decade, don’t cherry pick a bunch of random things and call it good. Lost? Really? here we are, well out of the “lost” decade, with billions of customers and more coming and still, last time I looked third most valuable company in the world. And an epic few months behind us, and incredible set of products ahead. Don’t look now, but if this is lost, there are a whole bunch of companies trying hard to lose themselves for that kind of decade.
cvp corporate communications, Microsoft.