Clippy the once-hated cartoon has become a 'badge of honour,' former Microsoft exec says

Steven SinofskyClippy retirement party, San Francisco
  • When a new Microsoft employee posted her new Clippy-themed business cards, the folks on Twitter loved them.
  • Former Microsoft exec Steven Sinofsky even tweeted about them, saying Clippy has become a badge of honour.
  • The trailblazing cartoon digital assistant was much despised back in his day, but he’s experiencing a resurgence of popularity these days, seen as a visionary ahead of his time.

Microsoft Clippy, the animated cartoon paperclip everyone loved to hate, is seeing a resurgence in popularity. Clippy is now being recognised as the trailblazer he was.

When Chloe Condon, a newly hired Microsoft cloud evangelist, ordered new business cards, she avoided the standard corporate look and instead went with Clippy-themed cards and tweeted them out.

Condon has a lot of Twitter followers from several bouts in the spotlight. In 2017, her hilarious-yet-sad social-commentary essay “What It’s Like to Be a Woman at a Tech Conference” went viral. And then, earlier this year, one of the pictures she posted in that article made her the target of a weird social media brouhaha when someone used it and claimed it was a photo of a woman who had stalked him at a tech conference. Condon called the guy out, and Mashable ran a story that outed the guy for a series of fake photos with fake stories, including one that featured a Hollywood wax replica of Seth Rogen.

But the Clippy business cards are for real.

They have got a picture of Clippy on the front and on the back they say, “It looks like you are trying to get in touch with Chloe,” with her contact info listed below. That’s a play on Clippy’s signature wording, “It looks like you are trying to …” when Clippy would then offer tips on whatever MS Office feature it thought you were trying to use.

Naturally, the Clippy The Paperclip Twitter account loved these cards. He tweeted, “@chloecondonIt looks like you’re using my likeness on your new business cards. Would you like help with WAIT I’M ON BUSINESS CARDS NOW?!” And then former Microsoft exec Steven Sinofsky, the man credited for developing Microsoft Office into a massive hit, noticed the cards and tweeted, “I suppose if you live long enough, others will wear your failures as a badge of honour.”^tfw

For those that don’t know, Clippy was a cartoon character talking paperclip that pestered users of the late 1990’s version of Microsoft Office. He wiggled in the corner, jumping into the screen trying to be helpful, offering usage hints and tricks.

After four years of scorn, Clippy was officially retired in 2001. Sinofsky tells Business Insider that the company even issued a funny press release about it.

“He’s quite down in the dumps,” product manager Lisa Gurry joked in that press release. “He has even started his own campaign to try to get his old job back, or find a new one.”

Microsoft even held an official retirement party for him in San Francisco, too. Sinfosky shared a photo from that party with us, which you can see below. If you look closely, you’ll see unemployed Clippy is actually using the party thrown in his honour to collect charity for himself and beg for food. So sad.

Clippy retirement partySteven Sinofsky

Still, thanks to Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant, Clippy’s day in the pop-culture doghouse seems to be over.

Not only is Sinofsky calling him a newfound badge of honour, but others are seeing him for the visionary he was, calling him ahead of his time.

And Condon received such an outpouring of praise for her cards, she invited the world to copy her idea and gave everyone a referral to the place where she had them printed.

Twitter user @crgrieve summarized the internet’s response to the cards with this tweet, “Me: ‘I don’t need business cards, just get me on twitter’ *Sees @ChloeCondon ‘s clippy business cards* Me: ‘I need business cards and will give them out to everyone.'”

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.