Or – the Microsoft shareholders meeting in Bellevue, how it was, what were the questions asked and how the answers addressed them…
There was a number of issues that deserve a lifetime each (is the cloud the right strategic bet for Microsoft; why is the stock so flat; is it the time to breakup Microsoft), some interesting pointed answers from Bill, and to wrap the mood I like the comment from Sharon Pian Chian: “What used to be a love fest for Microsoft has turned into the nitpicking of a long-married couple”- UGH… [read her article for some more color].
Steve was deep in justifying the company strategy, why the bet on the cloud is the right one, why the synergies within the company enable new strategic growth in all areas.
Both points are definitely valid, but they are not enough to eliminate the frustration that we all feel versus Apple, Google, and the slow pace of innovation…
Bill’s corner: a guy asked him why he was selling his shares and donating proceeds to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation [instead of removing his shares from the corporate balance sheet to boost the stock price], his answer was: "I think the point of the question is, ‘Are the current grantees of the foundation more deserving than turning the money over to Microsoft shareholders?’ I guess I’ve made the decision that that wealth is going to go to the foundation…."
Good answer Bill, but you may want to ask yourself if the Foundation is using that money more efficiently than the development Microsoft could bring to the Third World (that is, if you devoted more time to fix Microsoft, and Microsoft developed better programs for developing countries/weak social segments/developed research in healthcare).
“Tepid applause followed the speeches and the phone demo. The most enthusiastic clapping came when Ballmer said Gates was advising Microsoft on projects.”
As per the more serious discussions, I like the way Joe Wilcox concludes his article:
“Now isn’t the time to break up Microsoft. But it is time for Microsoft executives to decide what the company will be. The cloud strategy is pulling away from an older software distribution strategy that is antiquated in the cloud-connected device era. Applications will remain important, but they will be lighter than bloaters like Office.
The question shouldn’t be about Microsoft breaking up, but whether it should break away from a business model that competes with developers and depends too much on third-party partners to sell and service the software.”
His comment is deeply connected to the partner strategy, that in my mind has shaped Microsoft and still constitutes one of its strategic pillars – but is there now a cloud partner strategy? well, not really, or better not yet, or not that partners understand anyway.
And, if there was a cloud partner strategy, is it enabling Microsoft to be as successful on the cloud as it was on prem?
Do partner see a concrete opportunity in this strategy? (will they keep supporting Microsoft until its cloud partner strategy becomes visible..)