Microsoft’s new brain

Ozzie_balmer_storyBrutal competition. A stock going nowhere. Microsoft is in crisis, so Bill Gates has unleashed his new hire, software genius Ray Ozzie, to remake the company – and conquer the Web.

Last June, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer summoned the company’s top 15 executives to Robinswood, a rustic 19th-century house a few miles from Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters.

The meeting was urgent: Google Yahoo!, and other newer companies had been amassing customers, revenue, and investor enthusiasm not by selling software, as Microsoft has for decades, but by deploying it over the Internet as advertising-supported services such as search and photo sharing. Even Microsoft Office was starting to feel heat from Web alternatives.
Fundamental questions faced the group: Was the company at risk? If so, what should it do? Should advertising – already a mainstay of Microsoft’s MSN service – become a source of revenue for every division of the company?

It was an austere setting for making tough decisions. The room was cold, and several people complained about the food. Everyone sat elbow to elbow around a U-shaped table crammed into the small room. For 14 hours they debated revenue models, customer trends, the future of the Internet, the size of the advertising opportunity, and how Microsoft might have to change. Gradually the executives reached a consensus: Microsoft needed a major makeover.

„At the end,“ recalls one participant, „Steve was very clear – he went around the room and said, ‘If anyone has concerns, you’ve got to say so now.'“ Continue at source

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