This also means that Carl Icahn will have a relatively uninterested lukewarm Ballmer when it comes to any discussions post August 1. It also means that Kevin Johnson calculated the odds of a credible alternative that Microsoft and Yahoo will combine in any meaningful way to achieve the requisite scale to be rather slim. he is moving to the infrastructure part of the network business--far away from the content and online advertising--possibly because of the complex non-compete clauses in his employment contract.
What does this mean? I think finally, Microsoft will focus on its core and not on its periphery. The memo from Ballmer (reproduced below) seems to indicate that rather clearly.
From: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 4:30 PM
To: Microsoft–All Employees
Subject: FY09 Strategic Update
With FY08 complete, I want to discuss my priorities for the year ahead and share my thoughts about the key strategic topics that are on everybody’s mind, including Windows, competition with Apple and Google, our software plus services strategy, and Yahoo.
I also have news about an organizational change and a transition in our Senior Leadership Team.
First, I want to thank you for your hard work and the dedication you showed during the past 12 months. FY08 was a milestone year. Our revenue jumped $9.3 billion to more than $60 billion. Operating profit grew 21 percent to $22.5 billion.
These outstanding numbers are the direct result of your commitment to the priorities I outlined last July. A lot has happened since then, but our fundamental strengths, challenges, and strategic goals remain largely the same. Therefore, my priorities are consistent with last year. In FY09 we must continue to:
1. Invest in the right opportunities;
2. Expand our presence with Windows, Office, and developers;
3. Drive end user excitement for our products;
4. Embrace software plus services; and
5. Focus on employee excellence.
By focusing on these five areas, we can continue to grow revenue, increase profit, and expand our market share. These priorities are also critical as we work to address key issues surrounding our business in the coming year:
· Windows: The success of Windows is our number one job. With SP1 and the work we’ve done with PC manufacturers and our software ecosystem, we’ve addressed device and application compatibility issues in Windows Vista. Now it’s time to tell our story. In the weeks ahead, we’ll launch a campaign to address any lingering doubts our customers may have about Windows Vista. And later this year, you’ll see a more comprehensive effort to redefine the meaning and value of Windows for our customers.
We also have to drive developers to create rich applications for Windows. With Internet Explorer and Silverlight, we have great tools for creating applications that run everywhere. But we also need to make sure developers have the .NET skills to write unique Windows applications using Windows Presentation Foundation. To keep today’s Windows applications alive, vibrant, and exciting, we need both—applications that run everywhere and rich client applications.
· Apple: In the competition between PCs and Macs, we outsell Apple 30-to-1. But there is no doubt that Apple is thriving. Why? Because they are good at providing an experience that is narrow but complete, while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises to the end-to-end experience. Today, we’re changing the way we work with hardware vendors to ensure that we can provide complete experiences with absolutely no compromises. We’ll do the same with phones–providing choice as we work to create great end-to-end experiences.
· Business and enterprise: Our enterprise and server business has never been stronger–today we are on the verge of becoming the number one enterprise software company. We need to continue to push on all fronts–mail with Exchange, business intelligence with PerformancePoint, virtualization with Hyper-V, and databases with SQL Server. We have to drive our enterprise search capabilities, our unified communications solutions, and our collaboration technologies. And we must continue to compete against Linux in key workloads such as Web servers and high performance computing.
· Software plus services: Some people think software plus services is all about search. But it’s really about changing the way software is written and deployed. The future is about having a platform in the cloud and delivering applications across PCs, phones, TVs, and other devices, at work and in the home. It’s also about driving change in business models through advertising, subscriptions, and online transactions. Software plus services is a huge opportunity for us to deliver new value on the desktop and the server to all of our customers. This year at PDC, you’ll hear more about our cloud platform initiatives and the next versions of our Live and Online technologies.
· Google: We continue to compete with Google on two fronts–in the enterprise, where we lead; and in search, where we trail. In search, our technology has come a long way in a very short time and it’s an area where we’ll continue to invest to be a market leader. Why? Because search is the key to unlocking the enormous market opportunities in advertising, and it is an area that is ripe for innovation. In the coming years, we’ll make progress against Google in search first by upping the ante in R&D through organic innovation and strategic acquisitions. Second, we will out-innovate Google in key areas–we’re already seeing this in our maps and news search. Third, we are going to reinvent the search category through user experience and business model innovation. We’ll introduce new approaches that move beyond a white page with 10 blue links to provide customers with a customized view of their world. This is a long-term battle for our company–and it’s one we’ll continue to fight with persistence and tenacity.
· Yahoo: Related to Google and our search strategy are the discussions we had with Yahoo. I want to emphasize the point I’ve been making all along–Yahoo was a tactic, not a strategy. We want to accelerate our share of search queries and create a bigger pool of advertisers, and Yahoo would have helped us get there faster. But we will get there with or without Yahoo. We have the right people, we’ve made incredible progress in our technology, and we’ll continue to make smart investments that will enable us to build an industry-leading business.
As I mentioned earlier, I have important organizational news. Today we are announcing that the Platforms and Services Division will be split into two businesses: Windows/Windows Live and Online Services. We are also announcing that Kevin Johnson will leave the company. He will work to ensure a smooth transition.
Since 1992, Kevin has been a key contributor to many of this company’s most important achievements. As president of the Platforms and Services Division, Kevin has built an incredibly talented organization and laid the foundation for the future success of Windows and our Online Services Business. Over the last 16 years, through everything from his work as head of the company’s worldwide sales, marketing, and services efforts, to his leadership in transforming our field operations and repositioning the company to focus on opportunities in emerging markets, Kevin has played a vital role in this company’s success. There is no doubt that his passion and dedication will be missed.
Effective immediately, Steven Sinofsky, Jon DeVaan, and Bill Veghte will report directly to me to lead Windows/Windows Live. In the Online Services Business, we will create a new senior leadership position and conduct a search that will span internal and external candidates. In the meantime, Satya Nadella will continue to lead Microsoft’s search, ad platform, and MSN engineering efforts, and Brian McAndrews will continue to lead the Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group. Both Windows/Windows Live and the Online Services Business are led by a strong group of executives on the technical and business side who have the talent and experience to address the challenges we face and drive the next generation of growth and success.
Looking ahead, I see an incredibly bright future for our company. As I said at the June 27th Town Hall for Bill, we are the best in the world at doing software and nobody should be confused about this. It doesn’t mean that we can’t improve, but nobody is better than we are. Nobody works harder than we do. Nobody is more tenacious than we are. We’re investing more broadly and more seriously than anybody else. Our opportunities to change the world have never been greater.
I look forward to working with all of you as we focus on our five priorities in FY09.
His memo is worth reading in detail. The five points are right dead-on for Microsoft to be taken seriously as a global technology leader and more importantly, if Microsoft is to be a true innovator in the network-era. Job#1 is Windows and if Microsoft loses that game, they will be marginalized for sure. What is also interesting in dissecting the memo is that he places Google as #5 (last on his list). Gaining a credible traction against Apple in the mobile phone arena is higher. And Enterprise is #3, ahead of Google. I have always maintained in my previous blog post that Microsoft should focus on Windows and use that dominance to win in the mobile space with Windows Mobile and then go deeper within enterprises. (may be rekindle a deal with SAP perhaps?).
I was baffled by Ballmer lending support to Icahn in his proxy fight few weeks back. Now that issue is settled with Kevin's departure. This memo is one of the clearest and compelling strategic logic that I have seen from Microsoft in totality in a longtime. It recognizes their strengths (software) and the need to refine and adapt their business practices including how they work with their partners to improve and enhance the end-user experience (#3 and #4). I also agree with the point that Yahoo is a tactic and not a strategy. I look forward to seeing this strategic vision expanded and refined over the next few months.
Score: Advantage Ballmer.!