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James Plamondon: Microsoft Guerrilla

Gorilla
"Organize into a Jihad"



"Evangelism" is a word that's hardly found outside Microsoft. It sounds a little like "angel" (it contains this as a substring) and it has nothing to do with technical work. It's more like AstroTrufing (under a fancier name of course), which sometimes reaches sites like ZDNet. Microsoft is said to be encouraging this.

Microsoft has a lot of people that it calls "evangelists" (just watch the size of this list), but one who stood out from the crowd is James Plamondon, whose vile attitude and affinity of guerrilla can be jaw-dropping.

Remember that presentation which talks about Microsoft marketing as "Jihad"? That was him. One has to see it to believe it. The full text is in Groklaw. It turns out that it was composed by the same man who called software developers "pawns". There were some articles about it at the time of the trial which Microsoft quickly paid to settle out of court (and for the damning evidence to be destructed, just like with Caldera.

James Plamondon was a technical evangelist at the company for eight years



[...]

"They're essential," he said about software developer pawns, according to a transcript of his remarks. "So you can't win without them, and you have to take good care of them. You can't let them feel like they're pawns in the struggle."

In the speech, entitled "Power evangelism and relationship evangelism," Plamondon continued: "I mean, all through this presentation previously, I talked about how you're using the pawns and you're going to screw them if they don't do what you want, and dah-dah-dah. You can't let them feel like that. If they feel like that, you've lost from the beginning.... So you can't let them feel like pawns, no matter how much they really are."

Plamondon a technical evangelist for eight years at Microsoft, did not return an e-mailed request for comment.

[...]

In other comments about developers, Plamondon equated working with them to taking someone out on a first date. "It's like you're going out with a girl; forgive me, it goes the other way also. You're going out with a girl, what you really want to do is have a deep, close and intimate relationship, at least for one night. And, you know, you just can't let her feel like that, because if you do, it ain't going to happen, right. So you have to talk long term and white picket fence and all these other wonderful things, or else you're never going to get what you're really looking for."


James Plamondon also has a homepage, so those who are curious can pay a quick visit.

Why did he seemingly escape to Australia? Is he one of those embarrassed Microsoft employees who hide in the suburbs ashamed and guilty of what they had done. That's the way Robert X. Cringely explained it anyway. Have a look.

There are hundreds of Microsoft millionaires (and even a few Microsoft billionaires) in the suburbs of Seattle. For the most part, these are people who no longer work for Microsoft, but still own company shares. They worked very hard for years and are now reaping the rewards of that work combined with their good luck. Most of them are proud of their careers, but a few are secretly ashamed. Climb high enough in the organization, and it becomes clear that Microsoft’s success has not always been based on legal or ethical behavior. The company is, after all, a convicted monopolist, and the exercise of those monopoly powers wasn’t just through a Gates or a Ballmer, but also through dozens of top managers, at least some of whom had to have known that what they were doing was wrong. These are smart people, but also people trapped by their own success. Some are in denial, some are just quiet. Nobody wants to risk what they have accumulated by talking about it. You would think great wealth would be freeing, but it isn’t always. Sometimes it is a trap.

[...]

During one of those last long nights working to deliver DOS 2.0 in early 1983, I am told that Paul Allen heard Gates and Ballmer discussing his health and talking about how to get his Microsoft shares back if Allen were to die.

Maybe that's just the sort of fiduciary discussion board members have to have, but it didn't go over well with Paul Allen, who never returned to Microsoft, and over the next eight years, made huge efforts to secure his wealth from the fate of Microsoft.


To engage in the behaviour projected by James Plamondon, one has to lack human ethics. It's almost like an illness. Where does Microsoft find and recruit such people?

"Mopping Up can be a lot of fun. In the Mopping Up phase, Evangelism's goal is to put the final nail into the competing technology's coffin, and bury it in the burning depths of the earth. Ideally, use of the competing technology becomes associated with mental deficiency, as in, "he believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and OS/2." Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition's technology part of the mythology of the computer industry."

--James Plamondon, Microsoft

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