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12/10/2006
  Microsoft Live Gets Vote of 'no-confidence'
Saul Hansell of the NYT examines the obvious: Microsoft is sucking at competing with Google. The article doesn't uncover much new ground, but there is an interesting bit about the branding of "Live.com" from Steve Berkowitz (Senior Vice President, Online Services Group - i.e. MSN and Microsoft Live)

Berkowitz does not defend the brand choice he inherited.

"I don't know if Live is the right name," he said, adding that he had not decided what to do about it. But before he gets around to deciding whether to change the brand, he wants to make Microsoft's search engine itself more appealing to consumers.

This is like any new Hollywood studio head, or new athletic director at a major university coming in. He's looking at the current regime (in this case, the "Live.com" branding) and getting ready to kill it - cause it's not his.

The fact that Berkowitz is the head of the something called "Online Services Group", pretty much tells you everything about Microsoft's problem here: bureaucracy. Here's a quote of a man in over his head:

"I'm used to being in companies where I am in a rowboat, and I stick an oar in the water to change direction," said Berkowitz, who ran the Ask Jeeves search engine until Microsoft hired him away in April to run its online services unit. "Now I'm in a cruise ship, and I have to call down, 'Hello, engine room!' Sometimes the connections to the engine room aren't there."

And you're just figuring this out now?

Executive recruiting - it's all about romance, when it should be an audit.

I mean, Senior VP-level guys get enthralled with the recruitment dance, the big $$$ packages, the private jet flights, meeting Gates, etc. I guess the papaya scented towels in the executive washroom distracted him from noticing that Microsoft has over 70,000 employees. This is not even remotely like a row boat OR a cruise ship.

The quotes in the article seem to subconciously suggest that what Berkowitz is looking for is more like a lifeboat...

 


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