Bonum Certa Men Certa

How to Spin Executive Exodus as Wonderful News

Mastery of spin doctors

Even though the arguments apply equally-well to Novell (example here), this post will concentrate on recent examples from Microslft.

“There were big new departures to be announced.”As we pointed out quite recently, under the mainstream media's nose, some of Microsoft's long-time and most principal executives are leaving the company which secretly struggles. One of the more astonishing cases of spin was last seen just over a week ago when Microsoft in some sense prepared its shareholders for what it had initially chosen to call "reorgs".

Ina Fried, an almost self-professed fan of Microsoft and seemingly a friend of Steve Ballmer, broke (down) the news before anyone else did, even before it went public (with the exception of the Wall Street Journal, which rejects the ideals of open access). There were big new departures to be announced. Here is a fragment of the text:

The move will see three top executives--including two prominent outside hires--out of a job. Leaving the company are: Senior Vice President Steven Berkowitz, the former Ask.com CEO who had been heading Microsoft's online services unit, and Mike Sievert, the former AT&T Wireless executive brought in to run Windows marketing. Both Sievert and Berkowitz had already seen some duties handed off to others at the company and their departures were largely expected.

Also leaving is Pieter Knook, longtime head of Microsoft's Windows Mobile unit.


Watch what Microsoft did when this became a reality and a few of the most prominent people at the company simply left. The company announced the news in a press release that raves about promotion (because surely a bunch of departures would leave some empty yet crucial seats).

Spot the spin.

Press Release Source: Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft Announces New, Expanded Roles for Key Executives



To make matters worse, journalists drank this medicine. Rather than explaining the disturbing consequences and the effects on the company's Web and Mobile divisions in particular, the press at large made the appointment of replacements seem like a wonderful development.

Other journalists/analysts resorted to quite a stretch and went extremely far to justify those changes. Some where trying very hard to convince themselves that Microsoft was simply preparing for the Yahoo takeover, so the departures were related. Not quite so! In fact, Microsoft went out of its way to squash these speculations:

Microsoft's online, mobile phone chiefs depart



The software giant says the management shake up has nothing to do with its proposed buyout of Yahoo.


Several days ago, another case of deception made a nasty comeback. Cited by Slashdot, Valleywag spoke about what seems like the true story behind Brian Valentine's departure.

Did Microsoft lie about top exec's departure?



The departure of Brian Valentine, a 19-year Microsoft veteran before he left in 2006, has always been a bit of a puzzle. In August of that year, Microsoft management told his staff he was taking a new job within the company after shipping Windows Vista. A month later, he left for Amazon.com. Now, Amazon.com has cleared things up with a belated SEC filing: Microsoft lied to its employees.


You can see a video of Steve Ballmer and Brian Valentine here. The pattern of deception that accompanies such departures is another case of Microsoft deceiving its own employees and partners, so Novell ought to be watching carefully. Bill Gates, for example, was caught lying in the past. True intent is rarely revealed and weaknesses get spun as strengths.

Another recent (and noticeable) departure was that of Windows Vista's marketing chief. We mentioned it briefly in the digests, but the media was nowhere to spot such significant news.

Michael Sievert, Corporate Vice President for Windows Product Marketing, is moving on, according to multiple sources of mine.

It’s hard to make the case that Sievert, who was responsible for the worldwide introduction of Windows Vista, isn’t being pushed for the less-than-enthusiastic public perception of Microsoft’s latest version of Windows. Even though Microsoft has moved 100-million-plus copies of Vista, many consumers and businesses still consider the new release buggy, sluggish and incompatible with existing software and drivers.


Let this post be another demonstration of dishonesty, based on very recent and live examples. Somebody keeps bluffing.

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