On the Web, no one knows you're a Microsoft employee

Summary:On June 26, an anonymous blogger posted a first entry on a new "Just Say No to Google" blog. The subject of the inagural post: "Life at Google - The Microsoftie Perspective." The post raises not only some interesting cultural comparisons between the two rivals, but also some questions about who and what you can believe on the Web.

On June 26, an anonymous blogger posted a first entry on a new "Just Say No to Google" blog. The subject of the inagural post: "Life at Google - The Microsoftie Perspective." (The e-mail is now also linked and being discussed on Slashdot.)

The post raises not only some interesting cultural comparisons between the two rivals, but also some questions about who and what you can believe on the Web.

The text of the "Life at Google" post is an edited version of an e-mail message allegedly making the rounds inside Microsoft about the shortcomings of working at Google. The version posted to the Web omits the name of the person allegedly circulating this message, as well as identifying information about the former Google employee who supposedly returned to Microsoft and provided this brain dump on what's working and not working for Google in terms of hiring and maintaining its workforce.

Who would you expect to be behind the new blog? A Microsoft recruiter/employee? A Google recruiter/employee? Neither?

The obvious answer would be a Microsoft employee. But look at the comments at the top of the new post: There are many, allegedly from Microsoft employees, criticizing the anonymous "Just Say No" blogger for making the "Life at Google" e-mail public.

The next question becomes: Are these real Microsoft employees criticizing the decision to publicize this e-mail? Trolls? Again, it's impossible to tell. I would think Microsoft employees would be in favor of this e-mail coming to light, since it portrays Google as a mostly unattractive place to work... Sure, Microsoft could provide employees with free cafeteria food or to get computer help/parts from a centralized TechStop, a la Google. But otherwise, the e-mail is not very pro-Google.

I've seen what allegedly is the original version of this message, thanks to an anonymous tipster. I was trying to check the validity of the mail before I blogged about it. Here's the text, sans redactions, from the version of this e-mail that I saw:

"Many of you were asking for the feedback I received from my interview with the former Google employee I hired into WEX Development as a Sr.SDE. Here it is. This candidate is also a former MS employee who left the company and founded a "start-up" called Phatbits. Phatbits was purchased by Google and he was hired on as a Senior Software Engineer II / Technical Lead. Here is his take on Google's environment as well as areas Microsoft should consider improving in order to be more competitive."

OK. So this should be relatively easy to check (I'd think). Phatbits was founded by three guys. Two of the three are not Microsoft employees. I e-mailed the third guy and asked whether the e-mail I saw was real and whether he was the impetus for it. So far, no response

Update: Just heard back and the third founder confirms that he, indeed, left Google and returned to Microsoft. Sounds like the e-mail reflects his views accurately. He also told me he is not the one who created the blog and posted the e-mail to it.

I also have e-mailed the alleged author of the e-mail, who supposedly is a Microsoft recruiter, to check on the validity of the information in it. No response yet

Meanwhile, back to the original question: What's real here? Who's real here? On the Web, no one knows if you are a dog. Or a Microsoft (or Google) employee....

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, Collaboration, Google

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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