Microsoft Chief Experience Officer J Allard sent out a goodbye note of his own on May 25, the date that Microsoft announced officially that both Allard and Entertainment and Devices President Robbie Bach are leaving the company.
Allard's note was entitled "Decide. Change. Reinvent," and doesn't mention the canceled Courier tablet project, which my sources claimed contributed to Allard's decision to resign. (He does mention another completely different "courier" in his note.) Allard assures readers that "no chairs were thrown" -- a reference to former Softie Marc Lucovsky's claim that CEO Steve Ballmer was so angry when he announced his intentions to leave Microsoft and join Google that he threw a chair. (Ballmer denied the chair-throwing incident, for what it's worth).
Allard says he'll be "working for SteveB on a couple of projects beginning this fall....." but doesn't mention what those projects are. Allard told Todd Bishop of TechFlash (with whom he spoke directly) that he has no intentions of joining Apple, Google or any other Microsoft rivals.
Here's the text of Allard's note (minus a few internal e-mail references) sent to me from one of my sources.
Update (May 26): Looks like this was an abridged version of Allard's full note. Microsoft has posted the full version of his note on its corporate Web site.
From: J Allard Date: May 25, 2010 8:56:08 AM PDT To: "Robert (Robbie) Bach", Entertainment & Devices Division FTE Cc: Senior Leadership Team Subject: Decide. Change. Reinvent.
If you’ve been following along, you probably understand just how difficult it was for me to decide to leave the tribe and explore new territory, but the time has come.
My passion for our cause combined with my obsessive nature has put many of my other interests on hold for a long time. I don’t know exactly what tomorrow looks like – but if my focus has been 95% MSFT, 5% life until now, I know that the first step is to flip that ratio around. After wrapping some projects up, I will shift to 95% life and 5% MSFT. With that 5% I’ll be working for SteveB on a couple of projects beginning this fall.....
In response to the curiosity, no chairs were thrown, no ultimatums served, I am not moving to Cupertino or Mountain View, I did not take a courier job and I require no assistance finding the door. I do know that I’m going to help a couple of friends get their startups going (e.g. The Clymb), I’m planning some races (by foot, bike and off-road trucks), and I’m going to put some energy into my passion for design, the arts and philanthropy. For those of you reporting into one of my organizations, I am committed to working through all of the transition issues and assure you that The Tribe remains committed to the work you are doing and our purpose going forward.
If, at the next juncture, I decide to join a corporate tribe again, this place will definitely top my list. There are a lot of great companies out there doing terrific and meaningful work with better pizza, nicer décor and great implementations of “ls” on the desktops, but The Tribe? No one can touch our talent, our impact or our ambition. We’re the only high-tech company with the track record and self-confidence to reinvent ourselves as we have. If you want to change the world with technology, this is still the best tribe out there.
Please, put my headcount and that cardkey “invitation” to good use. Find a college student that claims we don’t get it and blogs tirelessly about our lack of agility. Track down an EE that has been focusing on fuel cells and has radical thoughts about power management. Or a social networking whiz who is tired of building little islands that go hot and cold and can’t break the mainstream. Hire a designer who’s given shape to 2 decades of beautiful automobiles and thinks we can sculpt technology to better connect to users. Infuse them with our purpose. Give them the tools. Give them lots of rope. Learn from them. Support where they take you. Invite them to redefine The Tribe.
Decide. Change. Reinvent.