— Bloomberg News (@BloombergNews) July 15, 2014
I was expecting a lot from Microsoft's new CEO, Satya Nadella, in his first big communication to employees and therefore the public.
After all, the press had pumped him up as the mobile-global-homegrown replacement for stodgy, shifty ex-CEO, Steve Ballmer. Satya was fresh air. You could trust him. He would speak the language of an innovator not that of an aging conqueror.
Instead, we got a rambling 3100+ words of tech droozle like "“We are the only ones who can harness the power of software and deliver it ...".
The "only ones" eh? Satya, you're a smart guy from what they say, but let me tell you something that should have been obvious from the first day you stepped into the software business. There is no "only".
Oh there might be an "only" for a few brief micro seconds, but as soon as any idea gets traction anywhere you can be guaranteed Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and dozens and dozens of other heavily financed software companies will pounce on it.
So why the platitude? Why meaningless statements like "We have clarity in purpose to empower every individual and organization to do more and achieve more."
Nadella is hiding somethings, says Jean-Luis Gassee, the Frenchmen that conquered France for Apple back in the 1980s: "Tortured statements from CEOs, politicians, coworkers, spouses, or suppliers, in no hierarchical order, mean one thing: I have something to hide."
Gassee thinks Nadella would have freaked out the employee base and the investment community as well if he had told things straight up: "
I’ve determined we’ll never make money in tablets or smartphones. So, do we continue to pretend we’re “all in” or do we face reality and make the painful decision to pull out so we can use our resources – including our integrity – to fight winnable battles? With the support of the Microsoft Board, I’ve chosen the latter."
Most of Gassee's critique of Nadella is right on, but I think he went a little far here revealing his Apple bias. I'm heavy into Apple technology myself but I can't part for long from my Windows based toys. Microsoft's earning are doing just fine. Intel just announced a surprising and record-breaking increase in PC sales.
In the end my biggest beef with Nadella's writing is that he thinks innovation happens top down. It does sometimes, especially in small shops. But even at Apple where Steve Jobs was given the lion's share of credit as innovator, it happened from the bottom up, so good were the software engineers and designers at the bottom levels.