Don Dodge Rips on Microsoft Ripping on Google

I love it when a smart employee of a company calls out stupid / foolish / irrational / annoying behavior of his employers.  Don Dodge – a Microsoftie who I like and respect a lot (and who has a super blog) has a great post up titled Microsoft lawyer rips Google on copyrights – Why?  I don’t have a lot to add other than “I agree – why?” and “don’t the lawyers have enough work to do dealing with their own issues?”

  • Brad – I dont know, I find it wrong to see an employee ripping their employer in public. Sort of biting the hand that feeds you kind of thing. I think Don should should have voiced his feeling privately ;-)(BTW, that is an extra big wink)

  • Steve Murchie

    Brad — aside from the chest-thumping good feelings we might get when we see “a smart employee of a company [call] out stupid / foolish / irrational / annoying behavior of his employers”, it can be a huge distraction to an organization the size of Microsoft. In the days before blogging, in most companies unsanctioned communications with the press and other ‘ex parte’ discussions of company issues could lead to employee termination, simply because of the churn it can create. Blogging has opened up a back door that we want to respect because it’s a new medium, but shouldn’t the employee be held to the same standards of external communication?

    I’m not saying employees shouldn’t be allowed to criticize their employers; on the contrary, I expect employers to take internal criticism respectfully and seriously. I’m reminded of the time around ’04 (while I was at MS) that MS legal jumped on a teenager who had a Web company named MikeRoweSoft — based on his name, of course. Even before it had hit the press one of my team heard about it and fired off a note to Ballmer saying basically (and pretty bluntly): “This is stupid. Don’t we have bigger things to worry about?” To his credit, Steve wrote back and said “you’re right.” While it did ultimately hit the press, and it did create a minor tempest, the organization rallied fast and resolved the issue pretty humbly. I think the company learned something and changed their behavior as a result. Could a lot of useless PR churn have been avoided if others had been as forthcoming as my employee? No doubt. Did it need to be done publicly? Not at all.

    This may just be confirmation that big companies are made up of many individuals, not all of whom are parroting the company views when they speak or act. If the MS lawyer was indeed echoing a company viewpoint, then shame on them, but we’ll probably never know will we? If the lawyer overstated company views, then he’ll no doubt catch some heat, but we ought to let them them figure that out in private.

  • Alan – nicely done (double wink).

    Steve – you are probably right. The copyright / patent thing is an emotional issue for me and I think many big companies (including Microsoft) approach it in a capricious manner. The corporate tactic that Don highlights particularly annoys me hence my glee.