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A former Microsoft executive who worked closely with (suddenly) former Windows boss Steven Sinofsky, says Sinofsky is a big reason why talented people quit Microsoft.Until he quit the company Monday – at his own behest or the company’s, it is not clear – Sinofsky was often described as Microsoft’s CEO-in-waiting, the man who saved Office and Windows.
But countless reports have described him as an executive who, for all his talents, was very difficult to work with.
These assertions have been common, but rarely backed up with anecdotes or specific examples.
Our source, a former Microsoft executive who spent years working with Sinofsky and candidly does not like him, gave us one such specific example.
It’s a story about how Sinofsky’s work style drove Ray Ozzie out of Microsoft.
Ray Ozzie is best known for creating Lotus Notes. After that, he founded a software company called Groove Networks, which was valued at $250 million in 2001. In 2005, Microsoft bought Groove Networks for one big reason: to get Ozzie on board.
The company made Ozzie Microsoft’s CTO and chief software architect, a role previously held by Bill Gates.
Indeed, inside and outside of Microsoft, Ray Ozzie was considered to be the successor to Gates as the big brain behind Microsoft.
But then, five short years later, Ozzie quit.
Our source says blame Sinofsky.
Sinofsky was a hardy political in-fighter says this source. Though not a “brash” one – “He’s passive aggressive. He’s more political and oblique.”
He did one thing in particular that drove Ozzie nuts.
“Ray produced some products that you could think of as cloud-based fabric products. The plan was that Ray would hand them over to Sinofsky’s team and Sinofsky’s team would ship them. [But] when those products made it into Steve’s team, Steve effectively killed them. ‘You know. We’re just not going to ship them.’ If it was something that Steve didn’t think worked he’d just not ship them and they’d die. There’d be no discussion about it. He’d just kind of passively aggressively do it. Take the product and kill it.”
Eventually, says our source, this pattern was enough to drive Ozzie out of the company.
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