So Niall Kennedy posted that he is leaving Microsoft after only 4 months. When Niall joined Microsoft to worked on Live, it was heralded as Microsoft's ability to attract top Web 2.0 talent to the sprawling Redmond campus. "We're cool...we have innovative and creative people...we're going to do great stuff."
My reaction to his original hiring was one of surprise. Why would someone who has tasted the sweet elixer of start-up creativity and freedom willingly place the shackles of Microsoft on? I know this from my own experiences, having spent 6 years (damn that was a long time) at Microsoft. For a moment, I even thought, "Gee...maybe I should respond to those emails from MS recruiters...if they got Niall Kennedy they must be doing cool stuff."
Well, today is one of those days that restored some order to my conception of the world. Niall gave a good explanation of his reasons, but here was a snippet that got my attention:
"Windows Live is under some heavy change, reorganization, pullback, and general paralysis and unfortunately my ability to perform, hire, and execute was completely frozen as well."
No that is the Microsoft I know (and once loved). The thing is, this isn't some temporary transitionary period. This is kinda how Microsoft is all the time. One big gigantic initiative after another, lots of marketing fluff, lot's of press events with Gates and Ballmer, lots of internal posters and shwag (and incredible amount actually), and initial burst of energy within the rank and file, then....well...nothing. This happened with .NET, this happened with the "Longhorn Wave," and I'm betting that it will happen with Live. Bragging about hiring 10,000 employees doesn't mean anything....other than....making people wonder what the heck those people are doing. Microsoft doesn't need to hire more, they need to get ride of people and get smaller...faster...quicker...unleash the talent within those walls. Until that happens folks like Scoble, Niall, and Gondotra will continue to leave.
But it won't happen. That's why start-ups like Pluggd have a chance to make a difference.