Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Microsoft employees allegedly left “in droves” during Steve Ballmer’s recent speech at the recent annual Microsoft Company Meeting.

The claims were made in comments at mini-Microsoft, a site authored by a a secret Microsoft employee who regularly blogs about internal changes at the software giant. The comments section of mini-microsoft’s latest blog post has provided some interesting insight into the closely guarded Microsoft company meeting over the years. Microsoft holds an annual meeting for its employees to rally the troops. Key Microsoft executives are usually in attendance to highlight any upcoming company wide changes and show off the latest work from Microsoft’s vast product teams.

Some of the anonymous comments at mini-Microsoft appear to indicate that a large number of employees were not present during Ballmer’s speech at the meeting. According to one commenter, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, was speaking whilst “people were leaving in droves.” Seattle PI spotted the comments on the blog and picked out a handful of interesting ones:

  • What a sad spectacle. While SteveB was yacking away, people were leaving in droves. Back in the good old days when BillG spoke, EVERYONE listened.
  • Steve, you’ve lost the support of your employees – when will you realize that you’re holding this once great company back? Oh and BTW, you can take LB (HR chief Lisa Brummel) and KT (COO Kevin Turner) with you too. They like the taste of your Kool Aid…
  • Now for the unpleasant weeks ahead. Wonder what flaming bag of you know what LB will lay on our doorsteps? She rolled out cuts to our bennies last year just after the company meeting, what’s next???
  • Great demos and pretty good overall. Only thing is the last part, windows, cannot lose. Sounds a bit defensive from our CEO.
  • Okay it’s been a couple years since I personally attended the company meeting but, wow, I have to say that was the worst one I’ve ever seen by far. I tried, I swear I tried to keep my admittedly sinking attitude in check and be objective. But it was just too much to endure such painfully flat demos and lifeless speakers in their sleepy attempts to show excitement about our products and our future. The train dance thing (the few times they did it) got old fast but it soon became a welcome reprieve from the on-stage monotony. It seemed like almost every demo was something about Win 8 tablet, with a few quick nods to products that are actually doing well in the marketplace, then back to praying to the Windows 8 gods for rain.
  • Is Win 8 tablet all we have left to be excited about? Has the morale across the company slumped so much that 20,000 of us together can’t even generate a decent applause? Please someone tell me I’m wrong. Tell me I’ve just got a bad attitude and I completely misread the meeting.
  • Yep, pretty sad to see all the seats empty out while SteveB was talking…hopefully he gets the hint and bows out in the Win8 timeframe.
From the comments it would appear that Ballmer’s audience was not full of eager employees waiting to hear the next best thing, instead it was full of empty seats. The comments could be from non-Microsoft employees trying to stir up trouble but WinRumors spoke to two separate employees present at Ballmer’s speech and both confirmed that attendance was thin. Neither would say whether employees were walking out during Ballmer’s speech however. The Seattle PI asks is it time for Ballmer to leave Microsoft and has Steve Ballmer lost the support of Microsoft employees? Mini-Microsoft tipped Steven Sinofsky, chief of the Windows Division, as a potential CEO candidate. Microsoft lacks a visionary leader and Sinofsky appears to fill that role very well. Co-founder Bill Gates handed over the CEO position to Steve Ballmer in January 2000 and transitioned from full-time work at Microsoft to focus on his philanthropy in June, 2008. Gates’ departure came after his vision and belief that tablet computing would be mainstream by 2012 (see video). Gates was right but Ballmer has often misjudged competitor products, he laughed at the introduction of the iPhone and branded it “the most expensive phone in the world” (see video). The iPhone went on to redefine smartphones and triggered a battle for a space that Microsoft had invested heavily in with the now defunct Windows Mobile operating system.

Glassdoor.com, which allows employees to anonymously rates their employer, reports that 55 percent of employees disapprove of Ballmer and 45 percent approve, based on 1,691 ratings. An influential hedge fund manager called for Ballmer to quit in May. Microsoft’s board of directors supported Ballmer following the calls for him to quit. Microsoft’s nine-person board, including Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates, supported Ballmer at the end of May. Microsoft’s stock has suffered since Ballmer has been in charge but most analysts and investors feel it would be a hard task to find someone adequate to replace him.

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