Posted May 11, 2006 8:07 pm by with 8 comments

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While Yahoo! is saying there’s no chance of Microsoft buying into their search business, Microsoft says it will take five years to catch them and Google.

With Google’s innovation practices and philosophy, in my opinion, it’s going to take more than time and money to win in their space.

  • Ben I’d love to hear your thoughts on what it would take for MSN to overtake Google and Yahoo.

    In other words if YOU were leading MSN how would YOU do it?

    In 100 words or less 😉

  • Please don’t get Ben started on leadership – he actually eats business books for breakfast. 🙂

  • Anonymous


    Microsoft needs a full on culture change. Every company must reinvent themselved every 20-25 years. If you look at the history of successful companies that have been around for some time, you see this trend. It’s necessary for survival. They’re getting their butts handed to them in the industry, and the top talent wants to be at Google for a reason: they’re treated like Gods. Microsoft also hasn’t consistently performed or innovated in quite some time: I understand innovation via acquisition, but when it takes 18+ months to *begin* effectively integrating the acquired company…well, everything is just moving a lot faster than that.

    What would I do? I’d bring on Fernando Flores to reform internal communication, Ricardo Semler to reform culture, and give them the reigns. Ballmer/Gates could even keep strategic responsibilities. Even then, 5 years would be pushing it.

    Wh00ps, that was more than 100 words.


  • Ben – you’re calling for a full on cowbell increasement strategy. Very interesting.

    But seriously… who are Fernado Flores and Ricardo Semler?

    and… Culture and Communication reform before marketplace analysis? Wouldn’t you want to choose direction before realigning culture?

    Also I think top talent wants to be at Google because they have a very exclusive culture/ hiring practices.

    MSN does too, as we both know, but Battelle refers to the “exclusive masters program” feel that Google has. I think this is part of it.

    And the cash doesn’t hurt. But I think the best people will be motivated more by solving hard/interesting problems than by the cash. And well, the cash doesn’t hurt 😉

    Also – in my opinion – there’s no such thing as cool. Cool is a non-term like “good.” In as much as it’s too imprecise of a term for discussing how companies and ideas get adopted.

    That said I haven’t read the tipping point yet – does Gladwell use the term to describe what idea adoption requires in our culture?

  • the tipping point isn’t so much about the adoption of ideas, rather, how “epidemics” are started, and this is broken down in the book.

    and yes, absolutely, culture and communication before marketplace analysis. they don’t need to analyze their marketplace or new marketplaces. they already have the data: sales of software applications and website usage. looking forward, trying to figure out where to go next is what got ms in this place to begin with which has led them to become the fabled 800 pound gorilla, elephant, whatever analogy you wish to make.

    there are two ways to create a customer: innovation and marketing. ms is all over the marketing, but have miserably failed at innovation. they believe that they can acquire innovative ideas and that those ideas will impact more than just their bottom line; the think it will better the rest of their product offerings, but they’re too slow at the integration.

    without a strong culture change, reinvention, and the communcation culture necessary to execute the culture change and reinvention, they’ll always be too slow in every way possible. innovation isn’t a practice, it’s a paradigm. and it’s a paradigm that microsoft does not have, and they’re getting their butts kicked now because of it.


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  • and as far as “cool” being imprecise, you’re absolutely correct.

    but ask any teenager to decide if something is cool or not, and they’ll respond with great certainty.


  • Matt

    Passing Google in search would actually be relatively easy, and very doable within a 5 year span. Windows/Office revenues allow MS to do something that Google can’t anymore – fix internet search. Make it so that MS Search can’t be cheated – not with paid links, not with html comments, not with social network spam. Forego current paid advertising revenues while word spreads that your search gives better, more relevant results than the competition, and reap the rewards down the road.

    Yes, Google is perceived to be more innovative, perceived being the key word. Using the word cool to describe their offerings sums up the problem in a nutshell, as most of what Google has come up with in the last couple of years has been absolute crap when it hasn’t been absolutely useless – Gmail and Picasa being the notable exceptions – and that’s pretty much the defintion of cool when it comes to software.

    So beat up on MS for not flooding the market with worthless software that makes them look innovative. They bit the bullet and did the hard thing with Vista, spending a fortune (with another fortune yet to come in getting people to migrate) to get to a platform that can take them into the future. They listen to their customers better than anybody, all the products they release actually do something that people need, and they all work pretty well, all things that can’t be said about Google. MS will weather this storm, its only a big deal because its the first real storm they’ve had to weather. Google is actually starting to fade already as a result of their massive internal culture change, they just don’t know it yet.