Steve Ballmer says Google is no longer the cool kid on the block who can easily poach the best people at Microsoft.In an interview with Janet I. Tu at The Seattle Times, Ballmer says, “I think Google is just another big company at this stage,” adding, “It’s not like they have the charm of smallness or pre-IPO-ness with them.”
Ballmer is both right and wrong here. Google certainly is a very big company, and people have accused it of turning into Microsoft — a giant bureaucratic organisation trying to do too much all at once.
But the big difference between Microsoft and Google is that Google sells itself as a much more idealistic company. Google is the company that’s making self driving cars. Google is the company doing Google Glass. Google is the company that just decides to do broadband internet in the middle of the United States.
Microsoft may have similarly ambitious ideas and projects, but they don’t define Microsoft. Windows defines Microsoft. And Windows is no self-driving car.
Here’s the full Ballmer question and answer on talent:
Q: Competition for young, top talent can be incredibly fierce. And you’re competing directly with companies such as Facebook and Google that are perceived as fresher, more dynamic places to work. How does Microsoft compete with that?
A: I’m not sure you’re right about that. I think Google is just another big company at this stage. I’m not saying they’re bad. They’re a good competitor for talent but it’s not like they’re some small startup.
We’re a great company, good-sized, that’s doing great work. Google’s another big technology company. It’s not like they have the charm of smallness or pre-IPO-ness with them.
Facebook’s got a little bit more of the charm of small, but of course they’re post-IPO now and that bubble burst, and burst pretty hard, for their employees….
But, you know, people basically decide what to do based upon the love of the work and the love of the environment. We’ve got a great environment and we’re doing great, exciting things.
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