Over on the ZTree forum, I defended Mark Russinovich when he was being accused of selling out for money..
Hmmm… become the 15th to accept the position of Microsoft Technical Fellow, the most prestigeous technical position at the most lucrative software corporation on the planet – with the salary to boot… or turn it down because there is the possiblity that you can no longer provide free software from your promotional/blog site…
Hmmmm…. That’s tough personal choice and I’m sure their 85 employees would have agreed that this was an important DEMAND that should have entered into the negotiations even if it meant lowering any possible wage increases.
Well, maybe not…
It seems that many people disagree with that. They think that Mark should have made the same response as Open Source fundamentalist Eric S. Raymond when he was offered a job by Microsft. His response letter is a fun read:
I’d thank you for your offer of employment at Microsoft, except
that it indicates that either you or your research team (or both)
couldn’t get a clue if it were pounded into you with baseball bats.
On the ZTree forum I went on to say, and its worth repeating here, that the thing is, I am just not that much of a Microsoft hater. I think there are companies that treat their employees worse. I think there are ones that have more arbitrarily bought and shelved products. I think there are OS providers that have more unilaterally have said “THIS IS HOW OUR SOFTWARE IS USED” and “THESE ARE THE MANUFACTURERS THAT WILL MAKE COMPUTERS THAT RUN OUR OS”.
So, when I hear about a guy who has for years worked with Microsoft, made money off of utilizing and being an expert in the APIs built into their software, who was a key note speaker at their conventions, who then takes a job when they offer, I am not surprised. They were bed fellows, despite any minor disagreements on what architecture should or should not be left in their OS.
BTW, I’m not saying that Microsoft is pure and has never used unfair hiring practices. I just don’t see this as an example of it. They HAVE had business savvy yet morally repugnant business practices in the past.
What Borland devotee doesn’t know that? Heck, a large portion of Microsoft .NETs success is due to them hiring 34 Borland employee within 2 1/2 years. It culminated with MS absconding with Borland’s chief Delphi architect, Anders Hejlsberg. This was at a time when Anders was in the middle of the JBuilder design and Microsoft was being sued by Sun for including the word JAVA in the poorly designed Microsoft Java products. You can read all about that here: http://delphi.about.com/od/delphifornet/a/conspiracydnet_2.htm.
If the rumors at the time were true and Anders got a 1 million dollar signing bonus and six months paid leave in addition to the stock options and salary commensurate with being the lead on the .NET architecture, can you really blame him personally for taking the job? I guess some do, but if I thought I could do the job without violating any previous NDAs and non-competes, it would be mighty hard to turn that job offer down. Even though he was their chief architect, Borland could not have been paying him all that well at the time. I’d be surprised it that signing bonus would have matched much less than 5 years of his Borland salary.
That one was well worth a rant but still it was obviously a smart move on MS’s part. They didn’t shelf him, they used him and he’s probably more than earned his salary and bonus.
Even ten years out the Anders Hejlsberg hire feels much more like betrayal than the Winternals hire does. The 120 million that Microsoft paid to Borland 4 years later, proves it. Such a lawsuit won’t exists around the Winternals buy out.
What do you think? Did Mark and Bryce sell out to big business or were they morally obligated to accept the offer for the benifit of their families and decendents? Are the those two things mutually exclusive?