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Good ideas are good ideas

Marc McDonald, Microsoft's first employee (as in, the first person they ever hired) explains the secrets of success in the software market.

Robert Scoble has been running around Microsoft attacking people with a video camera.  Okay, perhaps I exaggerate, but he recently had a 17 minute interview with Bill Gates, and before that, with Marc McDonald, the first Microsoft employee.

Apparently, that's no exaggeration. He joined the company when it was just Bill Gates and Paul Allen, and everything was done out of a shared apartment in Albuquerque, New Mexico (which is, in fact, a very nice place to live). He left when the company was getting "too big" at 400 employees, joining a company named Asymmetrics that did well enough to get bought later by Microsoft.

Marc McDonald seems to be good at picking winners, which makes me think he'd be a good person to have along on a business trip to Ireland and a visit to one of those ubiquitous Irish betting shops. That's why I found the following comments in that interview so interesting. It also meshes well with my previous post, where I stated that Linux needs to figure out what Windows does right if they hope to make a dent in Microsoft's market share.

Scoble and Marc McDonald got into a discussion about the iPod, a product for which Mr. McDonald had a lot of enthusiasm:

Scoble: Isn't this ironic that we are talking about a competitor's product?

McDconald: You need to know, you better know what competitors are doing. You better look at their good ideas, and the good ways they think, and take advantage of them. If somebody's going to tell you, hey, this is a good thought, hey, it's a good thought. Not invented here is not the best thing to have, you've got to be broad.

...You recognize good work when good work is done. And that's one thing you can say about Apple. They don't have our size, they don't have our market, they do a lot of good thinking, though. Give people kudos where it's due. I don't care if its Microsoft or external, good ideas are good ideas, and it doesn't matter where they come from.