Microsoft case Since it was established, Microsoft has never needed other people's money. When Bill Gate and Paul Allen founded the company, they borrowed a little, but it's been pay-as-you-go ever since: $60 billion in market

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Microsoft case

Since it was established, Microsoft has never needed other people's money. When Bill Gate and Paul Allen founded the company, they borrowed a little, but it's been pay-as-you-go ever since: $60 billion in market capitalization, all generated by internal cash flow; the company has never had a dime in long-term debt.

Yet, Gate and Allen decided to incorporate in 1981, and to take the company public in 1986. Why did they do so?

Call in rich

When working stiffs need a break, they “call in sick” for a few days. When Microsoft need a break, they “call in rich.” Forever.

Roughly a third of Microsoft’s 30,000 employees are already millionaires, thanks to a 764-fold rise in Microsoft’s stock value since it went public in 1986, and the company just released yet another round of better-than-anticipated earnings yesterday. But now the company that made them wealthy is paying a steep price: More than half a dozen of its high-level executives have resigned or taken leaves since the beginning of the year. Some of the recent key execs to call in rich:

Chris Peters. Was: VP of Office division. Now: On leave of absence to train for new career as a pro bowler.
Nathan Myhrvold. Was: Chief technology officer. Now: On leave to pursue interest in scientific research and to travel.

John Ludwig. Was: VP of Microsoft’s Consumer and Commerce Group. Now: On indefinite leave.
Steve Perlman. Was: President of Microsoft’s WebTV unit. Now: Quit to explore new entrepreneurial ventures.
Pete Higgins. Was: VP of Microsoft’s (now-defunct) interactive media group. Now: On leave to hang out with his kids, travel and perhaps “go to golf school.”
Sam Jadallah. Was: VP of enterprise sales. Now: Quit to join a Seattle-based start-up.
Peter Neupert. Was: VP of news and publishing for (now-defunct) interactive media group. Now: Quit to become president of Click for more

The shift is transforming Microsoft. Look back five years. Many of the minds who led Microsoft to its greatest victories have left for good. Now that the stock’s “upside” appears more limited… Now that the passion to make a mint may outweigh the passion to make great software… Now that Internet start-ups are begging (and paying big) for top talent the trend is also trickling down to the lesser-known millionaires known inside the company as the “Microsoft volunteers.”

The shift has already transformed Seattle, turning it into an entrepreneurial hotbed that resembles Silicon Valley 15 years ago. Much like the Fairchild (then Hewlett-Packard) refugees who created Silicon Valley, Microsoft refugees are starting, financing and/or joining a whole new round of tech startups. For instance:

RealNetworks, the streaming media company. Founded by Rob Glaser, formerly VP of Microsoft’s Multimedia and Consumer Systems.

Infospace, one of the Net’s best people-finder sites. Founded by Naveen Jain, formerly a product manager for MSN.

QPass, the PowerWallet people. Founded by Chase Franklin, formerly part of Microsoft’s interactive television and MSN initiatives.

Aditi, Internet-based customer service provider. Started by Pradeep Singh, a nine-year veteran

of Microsoft.

Onyx, collaboration software maker. Founded by Brent Frei, formerly involved with Microsoft’s international efforts.

The shift threatens to transform the Internet as well, by permeating the market with a new breed of startup. The piranhas are out of the aquarium, and they promise to transform the Net with their market-focused, fast-moving, aggressive startup ideas. Headed by Microsoft veterans. Financed by Microsoft money. And infused with the meat-eating Microsoft mindset. Care to guess who the next Microsoft exec to bail out will be?

Here is where you will find Microsoft execs who topped the company’s 1994 organizational chart:



Bill Gates

Then: Chair and CEO

Now: Same, but with less focus on day-to-day operations

Steve Ballmer

Then: Executive VP of Worldwide Sales and Support

Now: President of Microsoft
Bill Neukom

Then: Senior VP of Law & Corporate Affairs

Now: Same

Jeff Raikes

Then: Senior VP of Sales for North America

Now: VP of Worldwide Sales and Support

Nathan Myhrvold

Then: Senior VP of Advanced Technologies

Now: On indefinite leave of absence as of June 1, 1999

Mike Maples

Then: Executive VP of Worldwide Products

Now: Joined board of directors for Mission Critical Software, Inc. in April 1999 after resigning from Microsoft in July 1995
Mike Brown

Then: VP of Corporate Finance

Now: Chair of the NASDAQ Stock Market Board of Directors since 1997, retired from Microsoft that same year
Russ Siegelman

Then: General Manager of Online Services

Now: Partner in prominent Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; resigned from Microsoft in July 1996 after spearheading MSN and Slate

Roger Heinen

Then: Senior VP of Developer Division

Now: On boards of directors for several tech firms including Progress Software, ANSYS, MAPICS, AVID Technology and
Pete Higgins

Then: Senior VP of Desktop Applications Division

Now: On leave to hang out with his kids, travel, and perhaps “go to golf school”

Patty Stonesifer

Then: VP of Consumer Software

Now: President and chair of the Gates Library Foundation

Brad Silverberg

Then:Senior VP of Personal Operating Systems

Now: On leave since 1997; recently rejected a plea from

Steve Ballmer to take over Microsoft’s Web commerce efforts but agreed to return part-time as a consultant

The Register-Guard, Monday, June 21, 1999 list the world's richest billionaire.

  1. Gates, William H.III, US, $90 billion, Microsoft

  2. Buffett, Warren, US, $36 billion, Berkshire Hathaway

  3. Allen, Paul, US, $30 billion, Microsoft

  4. Ballmer, Steven, US, $19.5 billion, Microsoft

  5. Oeri, Hoffman and Sacher families, Swizeland, $17 billion, Roche

  6. Anschutz, Philip, US, $16.5 billion, oil, railroads, telecommunications

  1. Dell, Micheal, US, $16.5 billion, Dell computer

  2. Walton, Alice L., US, $16 billion, inheritance (Wal-Mart Store)

  3. Walton, Helen R., US, $16 billion, inheritance (Wal-Mart store)

  4. Walton, Jim C., US, $16 billion, inheritance (Wal-Mart store)

  5. Walton, John T., US, $16 billion, inheritance (Wal-Mart store)

Discussion questions

  1. What are Microsoft competitive advantages?

  2. What are the most critical resources of Microsoft's success?

  3. Why did Allen and Gates go public in 1986?

  4. What are the key challenges for Microsoft?

  • Why do people leave now?

  • What do they do after leaving?

  • Consequences of people leavings?

  1. What should Microsoft do?

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