Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Hmm, Dan Gillmor was at Microsoft today. I wonder what he saw?

Oh, now that I've announced, I want to tell you that I know of yet another well-known weblogger that has also joined Microsoft. Is this a start of a trend? This other person has sworn me to secrecy, though (he says he'll announce on Monday or so). I can't wait! We'll have a big party when we get settled.

OK, so by now you've all seen the news that I've "swallowed the red pill."

I was wondering how to write about this, and thought a Q&A format would fit best. So here goes.

Q: Did Scoble gets Microsofted or did Microsoft get Scobleized?

A: That is the $64,000 question, isn't it? I think the jury is out on this one. I have big dreams and I'm working for a big company with big products and big resources. I dream of a day when everyone likes Microsoft and loves using its products. If Microsoft gets there, I'd like to have played a part.

Q: What's the big secret product you're working on?

A: I'm part of the team that's responsible for building Windows. You might have heard of it.

Q: Who's your boss?

A: Dave Winer said it was Robert Hess. His title is Group Manager, US-.NET Platform Strategy. You might know him. He hosts the .NET show on MSDN. Yeah, he's the guy who decides if I've been doing a good job, but, I've learned that at both big and small companies the real bosses are the folks who buy the product. You all can get me fired simply by switching to a non-Microsoft platform (and you can all give me a raise by throwing away your Macs and uninstalling your Linux). I know that. My "boss" knows that.

Q: You're a real suckup, aren't you?

A: Yeah, but funny enough, I'm one of the only people who told Bill Gates to voluntarily split up Microsoft. I'm also the only guy who told Microsoft to include Linux for free with Windows. So, if that's called "sucking up" then I'm all for it.

Q: What's your official title?

A: Technical Evangelist, US-.NET Platform Strategy. Or something like that.

Q: What is your first task?

A: I don't know if I should talk about that publicly (I'm still figuring it all out). But, if you're at the PDC, you'll see what the team is working on. By the way, if you're gonna be developing software in the second half of the decade, you really need to be at the PDC (Microsoft Professional Developers Conference). If you're planning on going, send me email. -- we'll definitely do some sort of fun thing (I'm famous for doing fun things with geeks -- when I ran the VBITS conference I rented a bus and we went all over the place).

Q: Why did you take the job?

A: Three years ago I wrote out a map of what I wanted to do with my life. I asked myself "what industry should I work in?" I answered: software because software was changing how people worked and played faster than any other industry. Then I asked myself what companies are making the biggest impact in the software world. Microsoft led that list.

Q: Did weblogging play a role in getting hired.

A: Absolutely. Yes, weblogging played a major role. For one, it helped get me noticed. For two, it helped people inside Microsoft see how I thought without needing me to come up for an interview. For three, during the interviews, we were able to really get to the point of things, since they already knew my strengths and weaknesses.

Q: Will you keep doing your weblog? How will it change?

That's a tough question. I've signed an NDA about everything I do at Microsoft, so I'll need to get permission to talk about anything internal to Microsoft that isn't public yet. If it's public, I guess it's fair game. I will definitely keep the weblog going. Still trying to figure out how it'll change. I'm sure I'll change in a few ways, still thinking that out. I'd love feedback, by the way.

Q: Will you be moving to Redmond?

A: Yes.

Q: What will you be getting paid?

A: The details of my contract are covered under the NDA I signed (and I wouldn't tell you anyway), but I didn't get as much as you might expect. If you expect to get rich just because you work at Microsoft, your expectations are in the wrong place. There are tons of benefits, though. There's a reason that Microsoft is listed in the top 20 on Forbes survey of best places to work.

Q: What was the most interesting question you got in your interviews?

A: The one I remember most was "how can we get Google to move its servers from Linux to Windows." My answer was a smartass one: "acquire them." I wouldn't recommend answering that way, unless you can back it up, which I did. I spent 12-hours standing in line for Star Wars tickets a few years back with some of the guys who started Hotmail. Hotmail now runs on Windows, but used to run on Unix. So, if it worked for Hotmail, I figure it'd work for Google too. We had an in-depth discussion of why Linux is so popular on the server side. I learned a lot and I hope they did too.

Funny enough, on the plane ride home from the interviews, I sat next to Larry Tesler (famous Apple/Xerox PARC geek, who now is VP of engineering at Amazon) and I asked him the same question "what would make you move your servers off of Linux and onto Windows Server." He answered: "prove to me that Windows is cheaper and more reliable."

Q: Did you really get to ride in Bill Gates limo?

A: Yes (well, one of five that he regularly uses, albeit he wasn't around) and they didn't make me ride in the trunk, either. It's my goal to bring all the rest of you along for the ride.

Q: What's the deal about the red pills?

A: It's just our way of saying "we've taken a job at Microsoft."

Q: When do you start working at Microsoft?

A: My first day is May 12, 2003.

Q: What building will you be in?

A: From what I hear, I'll be in building 119.

Q: Will you keep your same IM address?

A: Yes, my IM address is and I'll answer it, if I can. You'll need to download Windows Messenger.

Q: Who was the first guy to ask you if you wanted a job at Microsoft?

A: Vic Gundotra. He's General Manager, Evangelism, of the Longhorn team. He noticed me helping NEC customers out in the Tablet newsgroups and started reading my weblog and one thing led to another. Oh, he was the first person to actually buy an NEC Tablet, too.

Q: What's the best thing about working at Microsoft?

A: The people. Everyone from the HR people (who peppered me with questions about what the best RSS feeds were) to the folks who drove me around campus, were interesting, happy, engaged, professional, and always made me think. I like that. Ever had a limo driver change your world perspective?

Hey, what's my name doing on this list already? Oh. So, you all know already? K, I'll give you the details shortly.

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Robert Scoble works at Microsoft. Everything here, though, is his personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.

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© Copyright 2004 Robert Scoble Last updated: 1/3/2004; 2:20:53 AM.