Some people were surprised to find me suddenly on Microsoft’s payroll. But I had my reasons for doing this:
1. The challenge. So far I had proved my marketing ideas to myself with two small companies, English Cut and Stormhoek. But would the ideas scale to a big company like Microsoft? Could the Hughtrain work on a macro level? I guess now is my chance to find out.
2. “Cultural Re-Invention” is a subject very dear to my heart. [See the cartoon above, drawn in 2004] It’s very hard to run a company once it gets big. The grim reality of managing the politics and keeping the shareholders happy takes over from the reasons why the company was founded in the first place: to make great stuff. This explains why upper management gets paid so much- what they do is incredibly difficult. A few years ago I got the idea that if I could learn all about cultural re-invention, learn about getting one’s corporate mojo back, and then apply what I knew to paying clients, it would be a pretty good business to be in. In the meantime, Microsoft seemed to have reached a crossroads, what with Bill Gates stepping down, competitors like Google etc appearing on the horizon in ever-greater strength and numbers, open-source becoming bigger and bigger, Web 2.0 becoming bigger and bigger etc. etc, so in terms of what I was doing, their situation genuinely interests me.
3. Robert Scoble changed my life. When I saw what Robert was doing with his blog, back when he was working at Microsoft, I had a big “A-Ha!” moment. THIS was how to tear at the membranes in the company culture that were holding things back. This was how to go about “Cultural Re-Invention”. This, quite simply, was the future to me. Sadly [for me, at least, probably not so sadly for him] he flew the nest and went to go work in Startup-ville, for a great little company called Podtech. I felt a bit cheated, to be honest. It was like he had quit telling the story before we’d heard the ending. Of course, he had every right to do this, and his reasons for leaving were perfectly kosher, but still… I wasn’t quite ready to see the experiment end. I suppose in the end, I decided the best way to keep the experiment going was to start my own version, myself.
4. This is just a natural extension to the conversations I was already having elsewhere. This whole thing, including the Blue Monster, all came about from an ongoing conversation Steve Clayton and I started when we first me at the London Girl Geek Dinner last autumn. This gig just seems like a natural continuation of it.
5. It’s nice having something new to write about. Seriously. New adventures are always a good thing etc.
6. Who knows, maybe this will work. Microsoft is a multi-billion dollar company with offices all over the world. I’m just a guy with an internet connection, typing away from a basement flat in West London. I like the odds.
[Comment- Richard Stacey:]
One thing you should try and get Microsoft people to do is “STOP BEING SO APOLOGETIC”. Whenever you put a Microsoft person on a platform – they always feel the need to apologise, or make awkward jokes. Do Yahoo people apologise for being from Yahoo? Likewise Google? Is this what the Blue Monster thing is about (could it become part of it)?