You Blew It, Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) fired Don Dodge when it let 800 employees go a few weeks ago. Bad move, Mr. Softy. Dodge, a product-marketing veteran with mountains of clout among venture capitalists and the technorati, has officially joined Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) .

"Vic Gundotra at Google was the first one to contact me with an opportunity ... 90 minutes after the news of the layoff hit," Dodge wrote in announcing the move at his blog. Gundotra, also a former Microsoftie, is now Google's vice president of engineering.

Dodge is mostly kind in his assessment of his former employer, which he says is a better company today than the one he joined five years ago. And yet when he does levy criticism, it's withering:

That fast decisive action was refreshing, and such a contrast to the slow, secretive, bureaucracy at Microsoft. That speed and decisiveness also reflects different approaches to hiring great people, building great products, and serving customers well. [Emphasis added.]

Anyone else imagine a veins-bulging Steve Ballmer reading that? He's probably cringing at how Dodge pointed out that Microsoft laid off 5,000 when it had billions in the bank, a move Dodge called "not cool."

Sour grapes? Possibly, but please remember that Dodge isn't Kai-Fu Lee, the sequel. He's more important. Dodge spent years in and around Digital Equipment, long before Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) made a bid for the company's former owner, Compaq. He's also helped lead innovative start-ups such as Napster. Dodge knows people.

At Google, he'll connect venture capitalists with start-ups whose ideas will add to the ecosystem around Google Apps. He'll help to build the platform.

And that's a problem for Microsoft. Now more than ever, Mr. Softy needs entrepreneurial coders to commit time and resources to make its own platforms more valuable -- Windows and Windows Mobile, in particular. Dodge was helping with that effort. No longer.

Whether you believe the cloud-computing hype or not, developers are rushing to create Internet-connected software. Mobile operating systems are in; desktop systems are out. Same with open systems that create Web-aware software quickly.

The developer war is under way, Fool. With Dodge, Google is in a better position to win. But that's my take. Now it's your turn to weigh in. Will Google win the developer war? Please vote in the poll below and then leave a comment to explain your thinking.

Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Microsoft is an Inside Value pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers owned shares of Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy has been Internet-connected since 1993.


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  • Report this Comment On December 14, 2009, at 10:48 PM, 2humble2fool wrote:

    Maybe he was spending more time writing his blog than working on MSFT projects. Really doubtful that one person in marketing will have that hugh an effect. Coders will follow the $.

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