Microsoft’s Decade of Shareprice Hell

The guy who wrote the MSFT Extreme Makeover blog has hung up his riding boots with a terrific summary post on Microsoft’s woes. After MSFT’s share price being in the toilet for the better part of a decade, Extreme has had enough. I sold my last remaining MSFT shares just before the YHOO announcement sent them into another decline. As Extreme points out, I think we’ve all been patient enough. We’ve given Ballmer ten years to turn the share price around. As Extreme says “stick a fork in its ass, it’s done”.

One paragraph struck me in particular, probably because I said something similar on my blog back in 2004 and it was one of the things that got me into hot water at Microsoft:

As I’ve noted before, Microsoft’s marketing is an embarrassment. Their PR is too, but that’s another matter. Perhaps the most glaring example of this is the failure to respond to Apple’s PC/Mac TV ads, something that Gates denied is having a negative impact as recently as the D conference a few weeks ago. Huh? Earth to Bill, come in. This is the same company that wants to be a leader in advertising, right? And the one spending $300 million to makeover its image?

Back in 2004 I wrote a blog post wondering why Microsoft’s marketing was so ordinary and my manager at the time told me I couldn’t say such things because it would upset the people in marketing. Well duh. He was of the “stick your head in the sand and it will all just go away” school of thought. Here we are, 4 years later, and I think we can all safely agree that they have been in a steady decline ever since.

Why? It isn’t because the people aren’t smart or because they don’t hire great agencies. I think it comes down to this: Microsoft has never had to sell anything in it’s life. For 30 years they had the hottest products since ice cream. The places where they did have to hustle, like NT or SQL Server, didn’t require advertising. They were sold door to door. So they don’t have a culture that understands advertising. But that’s just my 2 cents.

I love Microsoft, I really do. They have done so much good for the world. I just wish they’d pull their heads out of their collective asses and get back on the job.

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