Newspapers and Microsoft: Dysfunctional corporate cultures and the fall of empires

Steve Yelvington flagged up a comment piece on the New York Times from Dick Brass, a vice president at Microsoft from 1997 until 2004. Brass worked on Microsoft’s tablet PC efforts, something I remember covering at Comdex in 2002. Despite a huge push by Microsoft, they never became mainstream outside of a few niche applications, and Brass blames it in part from in-fighting at Microsoft. Brass wrote:

Internal competition is common at great companies. It can be wisely encouraged to force ideas to compete. The problem comes when the competition becomes uncontrolled and destructive. At Microsoft, it has created a dysfunctional corporate culture in which the big established groups are allowed to prey upon emerging teams, belittle their efforts, compete unfairly against them for resources, and over time hector them out of existence. It’s not an accident that almost all the executives in charge of Microsoft’s music, e-books, phone, online, search and tablet efforts over the past decade have left.

Brass predicted that unless Microsoft was able to overcome this dysfunctional corporate culture and regained “its creative spark” that it might not have much of a future. In highlighting Brass’ piece, Steve wrote in his tweet:

Every behavior that’s killing Microsoft, I’ve seen at a newspaper company.

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