11.15.08

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James Plamondon: Microsoft Guerrilla

Posted in FUD, Marketing, Microsoft at 3:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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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10 Comments

  1. pcolon said,

    November 15, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Gravatar

    These “evangelists” give the word a bad connotation in what they’re doing. Also, it is they who use the religion type remarks vilifying people who prefer Freedom (FOSS).

    Ass for Plamondon, another puzzling question would be; ‘How can another individual in the workplace, if not of like mind, work with excreta infection such as him?”.

  2. G. Michaels said,

    November 15, 2008 at 9:02 pm

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    Hey Roy, is pcolon’s comment an example of the personal attacks that “have no place on BoycottNovell”? Is your post about this person an example of the ad-hominem attacks that show the “desperation” of the evil people?

    Is your link to his family page an example of the stalking you claim afflicts you and your collaborators?

    Just curious.

    Note: writer of this comment adds absolutely nothing but stalking and personal attacks against readers, as documented here.

  3. pcolon said,

    November 15, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Gravatar

    @g.michaels: This is an opinion based on the subject of the post and my opinion alone. There is no personal attack.

    “Evangelism” usually is used as a depiction of “proclaiming good news”, further, a “technological evangelist is associated by people who look to establish a technology as de facto standards or to participate in setting non-proprietary open standards.

    The case with Microsoft, since it includes services or material benefits, would be better served to use “proselytism”.

    The behavior of any person who doesn’t value another individual as he values himself would be short-changing anyone in contact with said individual.

    Have a nice day.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 16, 2008 at 5:21 am

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    The Web page was just brought to my attention by a reader. it provides background.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 16, 2008 at 7:58 am

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    Wow. Watch this comment:

    http://scripting.wordpress.com/2007/01/09/scripting-news-for-192007/#comment-34530

    ________

    Dave,

    I appreciate your referring to me as “one of the good guys” at Microsoft, back in the 1990’s — although I must say that all of us in Microsoft’s Developer Relations Group (DRG) thought of ourselves that way. It was a great team.

    You can find my response to ComputerWorld’s article here (towards the bottom):
    http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=271057

    I refer to this version of my response, rather than the one on ComputerWorld’s SharkBait, because this version contains URLs to relevant definitions and other resources.

    Inevitably, Microsoft’s PR people are distancing Microsoft from my 1996 presentation, saying that the approach to evangelism that it describes was not then, and is not now, Microsoft’s policy. This overlooks the fact that my presentation was such a hit with DRG’s management that I gave it in three subsequent internal training sessions at (roughly) six-month intervals. DRG’s management REQUIRED the attendance of all newly-hired evangelists at these presentations, and the attendance & participation of all other evangelists was recommended. The pace of hiring new evangelists then slowed, so it was not necessary to give such internal training sessions thereafter. Microsoft had not previously had any formal training seminars for newly-hired evangelists, so far as I know (between 1992 and 1996). If you read the transcript of the “offending” presentation, you’ll see that Marshall Goldberg — a senior evangelist who had frequent meetings with Microsoft’s senior executives, including Bill Gates — refers to me as being Microsoft’s “evangelism theoretician.”

    The point being that Microsoft recognized that my presentations on evangelism theory, strategy, and tactics — of which only one has been entered into the public record, the others still being massively confidential — were, in fact, the best embodiment of Microsoft’s evangelism “policy” that existed at the time. Else, they would have used some other materials and presenter for new-evangelist training, would they not?

    Another portion of the old “pawns” methaphor said “We can only win the allegiance of the pawns by understanding what they need, and supplying it; what they fear, and alleviating it; what they believe, and reinforcing it; where they want to go tomorrow, and taking them there. Set things up so that they get what they want by helping you get what you want – then just get out of their way.”

    Hardly a prescription for abuse, is it?

    That said, the “pawns” metaphor was stretched well beyond the breaking point, and should not have been used.

    The “first-date” analogy was puerile, stupid, and wrong. In one of the other training presentations, I emphasize that the first rule of evangelism is, simply, “Never lie; always tell the truth” — a point contradicted by my stupid “first-date” ramblings. I was usually slated as the “after lunch” speaker because I was recognized for my ability to wake up a sleepy audience — and in my search for spicy, vivid, exciting analogies, I went too far, for which I am truly sorry.

    Fair enough?

    Thanks! :-)

    James Plamondon
    CEO, Thumtronics
    The New Shape of Music(tm)
    http://www.thummer.com

    P.S.: Once I’m done revolutionizing the music-technology world, I really should finish my book on the theory and practice of technology evangelism.

    ____

    So it was indeed Microsoft’s policy.

    Also see: http://www.thumtronics.com/Ron.pdf (going ‘lyrical’ elsewhere)

  6. David Gerard said,

    November 17, 2008 at 5:34 am

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    The word “evangelism” in this sense was popularised by Apple. It’s given its name to a form of marketing. It’s not a Microsoft jargon word.

    Guy Kawasaki wrote a book on the subject, Selling the Dream (Amazon link), about how he did it at Apple, which I highly recommend. Certainly applicable to free software. Guy also blogs chronically about this sort of thing.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 17, 2008 at 5:36 am

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    Thanks.

    If you do a Web search for “evangelism”, then you’ll find that a lot of he stuff is Microsoft.

  8. David Gerard said,

    November 17, 2008 at 5:45 am

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    Don’t let them co-opt it then! ;-)

    I just wrote a message to discussion@fsfeurope.org on this topic, quoting this Guy Kawasaki blog post.

    Being hopelessly addicted to volunteer activism in far too many spheres, I apply this stuff lots. I need to find my copy of Selling The Dream again … it’s in a box somewhere. (The running joke in my house: “Where’s x?” “It’s IN A BOX!” One day everything will be unpacked … then we’ll probably move.)

    This, by the way, suggests to me that free software “gateway drugs” really work, e.g. Firefox, OpenOffice, GIMP. Users care about applications; once they’re using all-free applications, swapping the OS out from under is easy and they sudenly discover their battery life has doubled from not running an antivirus. Etc. This suggests that Microsoft’s drive to make Windows a first-class platform for open source software will in fact shoot them in the foot, and I’m sure they have a game plan that says it won’t but I still can’t see what it might be myself.

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 17, 2008 at 5:49 am

    Gravatar

    They haven’t a choice. People will use such applications either way, but Microsoft tries to deprive GNU/Linux of users. it’s the same on the server side.

    I liked one of Guy’s talks when I read it almost 3 years ago.

  10. James Plamondon said,

    December 13, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy, et al.,

    You’re right. Some of the evangelism practices that I taught and executed at Microsoft in the 1990′s were unethical. I didn’t think so at the time — I thought that they were just hyper-competitive — but I agree now.

    I am trying to change the error of my ways. I trust that you will agree that even the most hardened sinner can be redeemed.

    Read more here: http://platformevangelism.spaces.live.com/blog

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