Facing a withering attack from Vanity Fair magazine that called into question the competency and vision of Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Ballmer, Microsoft has fired back on the criticism of Kurt Eichenworld’s VF story, “Microsoft Lost Decade,” in fine academic, “forensic debate” form.
Microsoft Communication’s Chief Frank X. Shaw, responding to initial coverage of the scathing Vanity Fair essay by AOL’s TechCrunch, presented evidence to vigorously challenge assertions that Ballmer has led Microsoft down the road to ruin, economically or technologically.
The counter-claim? Ballmer has in fact grown Microsoft’s revenues by demonstrable margins.
Here is Frank X. Shaw’s “Advisor X” analysis:
“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 performance 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!”
GeekWire drilled down on the numbers while Steve B. has been CEO.
• 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.”
From all appearances, Eichenworld’s article was written and published weeks before Microsoft debuted the Surface Tablet, one of the most visionary manifestations of hardware/software integration in the new Tablet age. If he wasn’t eating his words over that “tech visionary”announcement, he was surely editing his recipes for Crow or even “foot in mouth.’
What is palpable is that Ballmer and Gates are both business executives who skew away from the holistic, creative approach and are not cut from the imagineering whole cloth of a Steve Jobs. But is this a disqualifier for one of the world’s largest tech forces, indeed, the largest in many sectors.
Vanity Fair’s “Microsoft’s Lost Decade” piece made for “good copy” (before the Surface announcement that is), but in a nanosecond after the Tablet announcement it became more than a bit, or a byte, out of synch! [24×7]