Lenn Pryor who until quite recently was the Director of Platform Evangelism at Microsoft has left the company for greener pastures. If you don't know of Lenn you should read the notes on Lenn Pryor from Robert Scoble's book blog. Lenn was the guy who came up with Channel 9 and was instrumental in Microsoft hiring Robert Scoble. Particularly interesting is the following description from Robert Scoble's book blog about Lenn's day job

Much of Pryor's job is to serve as a bridge between Scoble and other company elements, such as PR where he has worked to help each to see the other's value and respect each other's turf.

So one might wonder why a guy who was probably been most responsible for the increased corporate transparency at Microsoft would want to leave the company. The answer is in his blog post Goodbye Microsoft, Hello Skype where he writes

I have a lot to say about both companies right now. Microsoft lost me for many reasons, Skype gained me for many reasons. I will let you draw your own conclusions rather than disparage my Microsoft colleagues or over hype my new colleagues and company. I don't believe in writing diatribes and manifestos when moving on from a job so I will spare you the soapboxing. Microsoft has its challenges, we all know what they are, they are more than apparent these days. Skype has its opportunties we all know what they are, who wouldn't like to see the communication and collaboration technologies in their lives get much much smarter and cheaper?

I decided to swap problem sets from one that I am not passionate about any more to one that I AM deeply passionate about. I just couldn't go on being an evangelist for a gospel that I don't believe I can sing. I am returning to focus on what I enjoy most, building amazing things that make people happy, change lives, and make money. In this case Skype was a better place for me to do this and one that shares my core values and beliefs in how the future of both software and business will unfold.

I know lots of people at Microsoft who have voiced the same sentiments that Lenn has. Some like the Mini-Microsoft blogger are anonymous voices in the wilderness begging for change, some like Mark Lucovsky [and Lenn Pryor] leave for other companies that they feel can still make a difference while others have tried to find somewhere at Microsoft that isn't overwhelmed by the current malaise that has smothered main campus. I'd count myself in the latter camp.

At least once a week I want to post a blog entry about how much my job rocks. Unfortunately I haven't found a way to do this that doesn't paint a negative picture of other parts of the company. Our VPs get it and are very open to communication, the product teams have a vision of what they want to build and they want to build it as quickly as possible, and we literally have millions of happy users who are excited about our products. In the places where we are lagging, we have lots of efforts under way to reverse the trend.

I didn't get that feeling when I worked on main campus nor do I see it the few times a month I have to go down there to meet with various folks. However unlike the Mini-Microsoft blogger I don't think Microsoft is Better Off Without Ballmer but I do think something should be done about the company's current funk and it definitely should involve some executive heads rolling.

I hope it doesn't take the stock hitting $10 before some action is taken.


Categories: Life in the B0rg Cube
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Tuesday, April 19, 2005 7:32:03 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
An interesting read, albeit ambiguous content. Of course I wouldn't expect anything otherwise from someone who is smart enough not to burn bridges.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005 9:40:34 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Can't you write a single blog post without giving it a Microsoft spin? :-)
Wednesday, April 20, 2005 8:53:48 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
that would be a null post.
There's nothing left at Microsoft BUT the spin.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005 2:29:53 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I like this piece but don't like the title. I don't think Lenn was a guardian angel, and I'm sure that Robert will get by just fine working with Jeff.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005 6:31:01 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Roland - confused. How in the world do you see this post as Microsoft spin when it closes with "executive heads rolling"?

My first reaction was to wince :)
Wednesday, April 20, 2005 8:34:29 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Mike - it was a little joke. Dare accused Robert of the same. See


Wednesday, April 20, 2005 9:19:59 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Perhaps Lenn leaving is a sign of the start retrenchment and the end of the move towards the great transparent corporation. I think the "current funk" has a lot to do with the projected failure of Longhorn to come out at a reasonable time with a reasonable feature set. No one wants to be in a glass house naked when the blame starts getting handed out.

Excecutives seem in a scramble to shore up their and Microsoft's position. Allchin is on a Longhorn PR tour, massive advertising campaigns are being prepared to sell more XP to fill the projected revenue gap.

All the bravado about betting the farm on Longhorn that was heard earlier is now gone, all the chest thumping talking about waiting for the Longhorn timeframe for fixes and wonderful features now seems silly. Even tiny competitor Apple and their impending Tiger operating system seems more able to manage their resources and get the job done.

Thursday, April 21, 2005 3:04:58 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
"I hope it doesn't take the stock hitting $10 before some action is taken."

I hope it does so my Jan 06 puts continue to rack up gains!!

Put your money where your mout is everyone...Microsoft is way overcalued!
Thursday, April 21, 2005 6:04:20 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
It's too late to save the MSFT ship. It's been coasting on pure inertia for a few years now. Most of the best people, the hardest workers...the people with a history of accomplishing things left around 2000. At that point MS got so worried that it hired companies to research the reasons why there was such a huge brain drain...they even did extensive phone interviews with the people who left. And it led to...nothing. Nothing changed. It's simply become even more beaucratic. The company has no mindshare among college students - the upcoming best and brightest aren't interested in working there. There is very little fresh blood with new ideas coming in.
Thursday, April 21, 2005 1:08:45 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
There is a lot of talent wasting away inside MS these days. A lot of people who were attracted to the company in the 90's, when it was still firing on all cylinders, will leave over the next few years. This is a good thing. Those people will, hopefully, take the best parts of MS (and there are LOTS of good parts of MS) out into the marketplace and start new businesses, help existing businesses, and continue to change the world. Some even start podcasting businesses.
Thursday, April 21, 2005 2:56:02 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

Glad to see you were generous to Mini-Microsoft. To me Microsoft's fundamental problem is a continuing primary emphasis of Windows over the Web, and that's understandable given the profits and market dominance that Windows and Office have created. But Microsoft Phase II needs to adopt a new mantra, how about "Web before Windows". When the direction get corrected, I am sure Microsoft has hundreds of smart people who can manage the implementation.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005 8:08:42 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I still have some hope. Its critical that when LH someday comes out, there will be well worked out Avalon/Smartclient/web service interfaces from major shops available and well polished.

For example - Banks are pushing common people very hard to use Internet instead of traditional services and most people already do. However the usability of these bank web sites can be horrible. If MS had any $en$e they would be already spending huge $um$ in having banks(/etc) put out web services for the common bank operations and offering a Avalon bank/account/money transfer management building blocks for banks so it would be easy for them to just pick it and modify it a bit to suit their services.

However here's what really happens:

Every bank and other service provider comes up with their own crappy UI with little thought put in to the basic design. And they of course use some proprietary interface with the bank to avoid the possibility of building one great looking Avalon app that would work with all banks(/etc). And of course such generic banking app is not even provided with Longhorn.

And then I'll just go and blame MS marketing for spending the money on TV ads and other crap which only helps short term.
Comments are closed.