10.13.2005

How did we get here 2 (cont.)

During the late 90's, when the dotcom boom was in full swing, there was a "graduating" class of employees that were ready to leave because they had been there from the mid 80's or early 90's. They've been there for at least five years, which means their initial stock options were fully vested, plus a majority of the subsequent options as well. Their MSFT options have grown so much since they first joined, that by now they have a sizable portfolio. In other words, they have the financial independence to pursue their dreams. And remember most of these employees are quite young still, often single, most child-less, and are still very idealistic and have many ideas about what they want to do.

At the same time, they've been climbing the career ladder for a while, and the "game" is getting to be a bit old. They think they have learned enough from BillG and elite of the company, and want to be their own boss, to get more control of the direction of their dream. At the same time, the company is getting bigger, more hierarchical, more complicated; things are taking longer to get done, more people to persuade and influence, more executives who wants to step in with their opinion. So naturally they yearn for something smaller, something they can have that direct connection. Something they can "make it so."

And oh, the desktop application/OS metaphors was reaching maturation, and the challenge is more in incremental improvement rather than in revolutionary changes. All the while, the new game in town, the Internet, well let's just say that most of them didn't think Microsoft got it, and won't be as strong in that arena as it was in OS and office productivity. And at the same time, the paradigm shifted from complicated COM/DCOM to the simplicities of HTTP, HTML, and Javascript. The distribution problem of retail and OEM relationship melted away, and anyone can setup a distribution channel to sell their service and software by just setting up shop. All they needed was a good product, something new and pioneering, and these group of folks aren't short on ideas at all. They have in fact many ideas that weren't getting used at Microsoft because the upper executives don't really "get it."

So they started to think about doing a startup, and with free VC money on the street, and your friend telling you how great it is to just do instead of going to endless meetings, you want to feel that sense of adventure again. You made the jump.

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