According to the anonymous author of Mini-Microsoft, “my circle of friends have hit a patch of corporate ennui like never before.”
A big part of the problem is that Microsoft’s stock remains stuck in neutral, no matter how well the company performs.
We asked a Microsoft rep about this last week. He said it’s frustrating the stock price isn’t higher, but it’s somewhat out of Microsoft’s hands. The company can’t do much beyond deliver strong earnings. And it generally does.
Still, it appears to be affecting some of the rank and file. Here’s Mini-Microsoft’s take (we bolded some things in the body for emphasis):
Ballmer vs. The League of Meh. Maybe because we have a lull with our major product groups either coming in for a landing (WP7, Natal) or just taking off (Office 15, Windows 8) that my circle of friends have hit a patch of corporate ennui like never before. True, some of them work on products way on the fringe but others work on some pretty core products and they are feeling… full of meh.
I still believe that Microsoft has turned the corner. Or, as someone else wrote this week, it has turned the tanker: The Microsoft Tanker Has Turned and You Ignore it at Your Own Peril. Why this meh? First of all, the stock: if you are investing in the success of Microsoft, you cannot underestimate the power of the stock to energize the employees to create break-through results. We had great quarterly earnings and what did the financial market say? “Meh.” Maybe they started it. Part of it I’m sure is that even though we’ve turned the corner, sometimes we screw up and spill the Big Gulp in our lap and skip the curb and take out a mailbox (KIN). That startling inconsistency to deliver focused results I’m sure puts fear and doubt into Wall Street, and if there’s one combination that Wall Street underperforms dealing with it’s fear and doubt.
After the dismissive reaction to our last quarterly results, we had article after article written about Microsoft’s Lost Decade, covering how poorly Mr. Ballmer and The Board have been doing running Microsoft and calls for their dismissal. That’s not cool, and if anything, it’s draining. Under that context, to see Mr. Ballmer screaming and running around high-fiving a bunch of MBAs riding our two cash cows until the milk’s dried up is challenging to your self-motivation.
Going back to my friends: some are very loose in their seat, and others have already left to enjoy unfettered engineering (one in particular happy to realise how much unexpected joy results in the ‘make Partner or take the 10%’ cloud going away).
I expect a CEO like Mr. Ballmer to revisit his previous Company Meeting talks and discuss where those ideas are now. Some of those ideas were quite exciting, but went… where? Otherwise, without the follow-through I guess this is another throw-away show that’s in-between me and my beer.