I wrote this a day after Microsoft released its annual figures for 2008. But somehow haven’t found time to actually post it.
For, today was a day that I will never forget. Today was a bitch.
We have all been talking about the market slowdown, the global meltdown and all that, but today was the day that reality came up-close to my face – and planted a slap on it.
It happened as I was walking out of office, I saw her moist eyes. The eyes were red, but seemed determined to be composed, and yet the tears just wouldn’t cooperate.
For, earlier this morning, she had walked in to work with a song on her lips and enthusiasm in her heart. And in the evening she was clutching a pink slip, had to hand in her id card and was escorted out of the campus, never to return.
Yes, she was a poor performer who had been given the pink slip. Someone who might have got a moderate increment for the same performance a few years back.
Quite an unsettling episode if you ask me.
But its really is not a case against the employer. It is all about the market – and that’s what I wrote about in the post I mentioned. Lets get right to that post now…
Product companies may come and grow, but no other company has been as representative of the software era as Microsoft has. Microsoft has been that Czar that everyone from media to industry to entertainment has looked up to.
For a validation, if you will, of any sort – trends, predictions, assessments and statements on technology evolution, immigration laws, IT acts, infrastructure, economic issues, Microsoft’s interpretation and view has been a great influence in setting world perceptions.
But now, the markets are changing.
Over the last few quarters, we have seen huge banks crumbling practically overnight. We saw juggernaut auto makers come to the brink of bankruptcy. We saw ripples of such economic effect spreading across to other world economies.
And now when you learn that the economic slowdown has resulted in affecting the behemoth itself, you have to sit up and start chewing your nails.
Here is what Steve Balmer said to his employees –
“Our financial position is solid … but it is also clear that we are not immune to the effects of the economy, Consumers and businesses have reined in spending, which is affecting PC shipments and IT expenditures.”
Microsoft’s results have been disappointing to say the least.
In its Q2 results ending Dec 31st, Microsoft posted a profit of $4.17 billion, or 47 cents per share, This pales in comparison to a profit of $4.71 billion, or 50 cents per share, last year.
It is no joke that this is the lowest in a decade. But that’s not really the worst you’ve heard. Microsoft plans to cut about 5000 jobs over the next 18 months, of which about 1400 jobs are to go immediately.
That’s something that has sent ‘shock waves’ into the industry.
This is the company that is one of the biggest beneficiaries of H1 Visas. This is the American company that joins Indian service providers in appealing to the American government for bigger quotas for skilled immigrant workers.
Well just like no one is above the law, it just shows no one is above market forces either.
This slowdown sucks.
It seems determined to eradicate some of our most cherished symbols of enterprise – indeed some very icons of mans evolution itself.