Vic Gundotra, my boss's boss, responds to my post this evening.
"I realize that many people, including myself see this as a human rights issue. But you do have to stop and consider the people with the opposing view.
"Should a CEO pick sides on an issue that is so divisive? Does being "inclusive" and "diverse" suddenly stop when it involves views that are different than the ones we hold?"
I believe that a CEO SHOULD take a position on controversial and divisive issues. That's leadership. Here, let's take it back to software. Are you saying that all employees should vote on the feature set of Longhorn?
Our leaders are paid a lot of money to take stances on tough issues.
By the way, I've actually gone and re-read this bill -- it's not pro homosexuality as much as it's anti-discrimination. House Bill 1515 would protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in employment, housing, banking, insurance, and other matters by adding sexual orientation to a state law which already bars discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, and mental or physical handicap..
But, Vic's right. I need to calm down, look at the facts. It's good to have both sides of the story represented here. Thanks Vic!
So does a guy who left a comment on Cyrus' post.
Steve Ballmer: Microsoft and the Anti-Discrimination Bill.
I got permission from PR to post Steve's email.
Steve, I personally am not happy with what it appears went down in this case -- even the APPEARANCE that a church is pushing around Microsoft is just wrong in my view (and, when the pastor makes claims that we buckled because of his pressure then I'm left trying to figure out who to believe: a CEO of a company, or a religious guy. Most people I know will pick the religious guy, sorry).
One of the reasons I came to Microsoft is because of its very strong stance on human rights.
The fact that Microsoft is even in this position makes me want to leave and join a different company that won't be pushed around by religious folks. Is that the message you want to send?
Steve: this comes down to leadership. What kind of society do we want to live in? One where religious folks decide the society we live in? Hint: my wife left Iran for a reason. My mom left Germany for a reason. There are bloggers in jail as we speak because religious people are so powerful in their societies. I guess we (Microsoft) have to now pass every decision to our religious leaders to make sure it's OK with them.
As to the religious' guy's claims. I'm not gonna name him cause that just makes his popularity even higher which is EXACTLY what he wanted. He says that Microsoft should not be pushing an agenda outside our walls. Well, sorry, the religious right has pushed an agenda outside of THEIR walls. My money says "in God we trust." That's not my agenda. It's one that was pushed on us. (Our money didn't always say that, by the way). Same thing for a whole raft of issues.
But, I guess, religion in America has become so powerful that even we are willing to cowtow to them.
Steve, I'm sad. Very sad. This is leadership? What if we were a company in Germany in the 1930s? Would we have taken the same position you just did? After all, most of the churches back then were on the wrong side too. It took the Catholic church about 60 years, for instance, to issue an apology for their part in the Holocaust.
On the other hand, I see your point that Microsoft should only be about making great software and that we should leave the social issues to others to fight out. I disagree with that stance, but can see how you arrived at it.
Finally, I wanna get my readers involved.
What do you think about this?
Cyrus Najmabadi: can anyone hear me?
He's trying to get more transparency between developers and the community at large.
And with that we're climbing into our big Caddy and riding off to Lassen National Park. See ya later.
OK, I'm outta here. I rented a Cadillac. Wow, this isn't your father's boat. It's the best rental car I've ever been in. It chews up curvy roads. It's quiet. Comfortable. Well designed.
And it has XM Radio. It's the first time I've had XM Radio in a rental car. I am in love already. I can see why lots of people are buying XM for their cars. Radio sucks, it's bland. XM isn't. Lots of different choices.
Anyway, enjoy your weekend.
Ventuz did a conference for Adidas recently with a wrap-around set of screens. There's a video on their site here which is most cool. By the way, Ventuz is a Windows app, all the screens and animations were controlled by it. If I remember right it's a .NET app that uses DirectX.
News.com: Steve Jobs says Microsoft is copying Apple.
I'm interviewing Jim Allchin on Wednesday morning. I think I'll ask him where his photo copier is.
Steve Jobs gets to write the industry's story. Truth is, Apple is ahead in a few areas. The one in the lead gets to write the story.
But there's more to the story than Steve is giving. More on that some other day. I'm taking my son out for a dad/son weekend in Northern California (we're up by Lassen National Park -- it's raining, don't know what we'll do).
Update: Oh, heck, here's two major things in Longhorn. Improved Tablet PC support and improved Media Center. I didn't realize Apple had a portable computer that you could use while standing up and that you could write on. Oh, I guess you could say we copied the Newton, but the Newton didn't run a full-fledged mainstream OS. And, I don't see a Macintosh designed to plug into your HDTV and play and record video on.
Not a PR best practice: calling customers "belly achers." That's what Meetup.com did to the Seattle blogger meetup. All that did was make the members even madder. I've been watching the reaction to meetup.com's new pricing. It has been harsh at times.
Steve Ballmer wrote us all a note this afternoon about the anti-discrimination bill. I wish he'd post this publicly. It helped clarify a whole raft of issues for me.
If someone over in PR could give me permission, I'll be happy to post the entire letter.
IE blog: IE7 beta 1, a few details.
Over the past couple of weeks there's been quite a bit of, um, discussion (nice word for harsh feedback) about Visual Studio Team System and its pricing/licensing. It's refreshing to see general manager Rick Laplante (the guy in charge of VSTS) respond to that feedback in video on Channel 9.
My boss's boss (and the guy who hired me into Microsoft) is now blogging: Vic Gundotra's blog. One more down, about 54,000 to go! :-)