Who us - leadership? Nah, we just vest here.
Regular readers know that I'm a staunch critic of Microsoft's current leadership team. In fact, I'd argue they don't even deserve to be called that and instead resemble the Keystone Cops. Now, you might assume that this is primarily because of the stock's non-performance - and I'll admit that's a big factor. But it's also the endless strategy/execution issues and constant inability to get even minor details right. IMO, that shows a company that is badly led and poorly managed.
Here are just a few current examples:
It's always wise to take your premium-priced offering, justified in part on the promise of future "extras", and then stop delivering those amid rumors the team responsible has actually been disbanded. Meanwhile, MSFT cans the Digital Image Suite which arguably would have made a great extra (though MSFT says most of the functionality is in Vista already - it isn't).
Couldn't agree more. Is there anyone driving MSFT's overall branding and marketing? It sure doesn't seem like it. Add to the list of confusion three different products that all contain the name Messenger. WTF? This is really too bad because many of the "Live" products are superior to competitive offerings - but most users aren't going to wade through the confused naming/marketing message to try them. Oh well, at least "Microsoft TV: IPTV Edition" got renamed Mediaroom. Not exactly creative, but at least it's an improvement.
Did we upgrade the heatsinks in light of widely reported overheating problems? Well, we're not going to say specifically, even though pictures documenting the change exist, because er, ...why be honest?
Related. Can anyone read Holmdahl's responses and NOT conclude that Xbox failure rates exceed the industry average? So let me see if I understand the strategy here. Having lost $5B+ on the Xbox fiasco so far, with the ONLY hope for payback - no matter how unlikely - being via subsequent games sales and related, leadership thinks being less than forthright about overheating and reliability problems (not to mention blaming users for scratched disks despite evidence that it's a hardware problem) is going to get buyers to invest more in the platform? Brilliant.
This person obviously didn't get the memo from Raikes explaining that there's no demand for this type of solution and why it's therefore not in MSFT's future.
Oh, did we just brief the press on changes we were making? Sorry, consider it a belated April Fool's Day joke.
Ballmer: the allegations are "baseless". Days later, MSFT agrees to make changes. Apparently several state AGs, already pissed off at MSFT for past infractions, thought it had enough basis to threaten legal action if MSFT didn't comply. [BTW, this helped tank the stock as the revelations included timing of Vista SP1 which now looks like next year (beta late this year), thereby potentially pushing out Vista migrations even further.]
Excerpt: "Yahoo's search total grew 18.6 percent from the year-ago period, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Microsoft Corp.'s MSN/ Windows Live took third place with 605.4 million searches, or 8.4 percent of searches in May. The service experienced 0.8 percent search growth year over year."
Remind me again, didn't YHOO's CEO just get ousted for his performance? 18.6 vs .8? Will there be ANY equivalent accountability doled out at MSFT? That's rhetorical btw as the answer is an emphatic "No".
- Attention Palo Altans: Get Ready For iPhone-Created Traffic Gridlock
- iPhone hype has gadget geeks camping and drooling
Okay, so it's likely over-hyped. But can someone remember the last time a MSFT product caused anyone to drool or caused a traffic jam? MSFT is spending an order of magnitude more on R&D than AAPL and taking at least twice as long to get products to market, right?
Unsurprisingly, after a brief run, the stock returns to regular programming. For example, versus the NASDAQ (dividends excluded), MSFT has now underperformed over:
- 1 day
- 5 days
- 10 days
- 1 mth
- 3 mths (just)
- 3 years
- 5 years
(Over one year, it's still ahead).
Meanwhile, where's MSFT's Board of Directors? MIA, as usual. Bottom line, if shareholders expect change then we're going to have to demand it.