Poacher turned gamekeeper

I’m continuing to enjoy Robert Scoble’s blogging from inside Microsoft (Scoble: ex-independent uber-blogger turned MS employee… see my previous entry). Some of Scoble’s stuff is too techie for me to follow but he gets interesting when he gets his dander up. eg

Now that I’ve worked here for six months “inside the tank” I see that it’s not a tank at all but 55 000 people all trying to simultaneously serve customers, investors, bosses. Just like at every other company.

It’s a lot more like an anthill than a tank. But, I’ve said this before.

By the way, this is a capitalist system we’re working on here. Do you want us to NOT care about profits? Tell that to our investors. I keep meeting investors. They tend to be average people. I met a DJ in a bar a few weeks back. He said “I have 2000 shares of Microsoft, keep up the good work.” (he bought them back in the early 90s and he says he’s done astoundingly well with his Microsoft shares).

I like the idea of anthill, as I tend to favour cock-up over conspiracy theories and Scoble’s picture of organised chaos makes sense. However sceptical I feel about Microsoft, the fact they encourage this kind of blogging suggests that this company is not quite the evil empire it’s made out to be. Or at least that the remorseless power of transparency and networking will help keep it in check.

On the other hand, I always worry when people get sanctimonious about the demanding investors, in whose name it seems to me no end of noxious practices can sometimes be justified. In David Copperfield, Dickens created the character of the crafty partner in a law firm who told his pupil (David) that he’d love to pay him better, if it wasn’t for his mean-spirited business partner. In the end, we learn that there is no partner at all, it was just a convenient invention to disguise the guy’s own meanness. Invoking the “demanding investor” can slide in this direction.

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