Now that Steven Sinofsky has left Microsoft as President of the Windows division, the question now comes down to what happened and the implications his departure means for the company.
Microsoft issue a statement today that Sinofsky and CEO Steve Ballmer mutually agreed to the departure. My bet: Sinofsky does not fit with the company in the aftermath of the Windows 8 launch. He did okay with the development of Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface. But by no means did it cement his place as the successor to Ballmer as CEO.
Further, Sinofsky could be alienating. He was also a bit of an outsider among the executive ranks. He had his supporters for his management style but there were detractors whose comments reflect on what Ballmer said in prepared statements today about Sinofsky leaving.
Here’s what one commenter said on Hacker News:
He was a big fan of the triad- Dev, Test & PM (product management), at every level. From what I experienced, at every level you’d have to get sign-off from all 3 for any features to be implemented. That, combined with Microsoft’s incredibly deep org structure created a massive number of ‘committees’ to go through to get signoff for any work to be done.
He was also one to dictate things from up above and it was extremely difficult to understand the reasoning behind them or offer any form of disagreement. Anyone who didn’t follow exactly what he wanted, was out.
So basically you’d have committees of 3′s (Dev, Test, PM) filtering and relaying every decision. The people who could work the politics would get promoted and the people who understood the details would get frustrated by the top-down ambiguity and falter or leave.
So was Sinofsky just too abrasive and austere? Another commenter on Hacker News said this about his time at Microsoft:
He was always polarizing and that his stock was rising is equally contentious, IMO. Windows 8 was late, Surface seems to be underwhelming and his inability to be a real team player are all likely factors here, as is his rumored disagreement with Ballmer (though I had Ballmer on the losing end of that one)…..
Personally, Sinofsky was one of the biggest reasons I left Microsoft. He was willing to ditch potentially game-changing products/features spanning multiple industries because it didn’t align with his idea of software engineering, which was more suited for boxed software like Office than for rapidly deploying services. He didn’t/doesn’t get services – he’s a boxed software guy at his core. All the Office Live stuff happened after he left Office – arguably he should have seen it coming and been ahead of the game while he was running Office.
These comments are interesting in context of what Ballmer himself said today about the need for better development practices at the company. He said it is “imperative that we continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings.”
Julie Larson-Green will now lead the Windows engineering group. Ballmer cited skills in her that Sinofsky does not seem to have as much of a strength for:
“Leading Windows engineering is an incredible challenge and opportunity, and as I looked at the technical and business skills required to continue our Windows trajectory — great communication skills, a proven ability to work across product groups, strong design, deep technical expertise, and a history of anticipating and meeting customer needs — it was clear to me that Julie is the best possible person for this job, and I’m excited to have her in this role,” Ballmer said.
The near-term implications for Sinofsky’s departure are not that significant. It’s more about what Sinofsky’s leaving means for the executive direction of Microsoft and the health of the overall organization and its culture.
Ray Wang of Constellation Research said to me tonight that Microsoft has a deep bench. Windows 8 launched and now it’s a matter of rolling it out along with the Microsoft Surface. The company has plenty of people who are more than qualified to do that work.
But at the executive level, there are few people who can replace Sinofsky. As much as he was alienating, he also had his own cult following at Microsoft. He in many respects put Microsoft back on the map with the Surface product. Replacing him won’t be easy.
(Feature image courtesy of Microsoft)
Intimidating voters at the polls is so 19th century. And, now that courts continue to overturn Republican voter ID laws, based on the fact that just 10 incidences of voter fraud in the last decade doesn’t justify disenfranchising thousands of minority voters without a driver’s license, what is the GOP to do? Thankfully, America’s #1 fake news site has reimagined voter suppression for the 21st century, with a smartphone app that automatically applies time-tested voter intimidation to dark-skinned voters. Check out their concept video at the end of this post.
**Note: For all of those who are about to freak out in the comment section, this video is an obvious joke. Politics gets way (way) too serious sometimes and it’s good to take a deep breath and laugh. For the record, TechCrunch posts tech-related, positive-leaning stories about both parties in equal numbers, and we’ve been especially vigilant at dispelling the myth of Republicans as the luddite party (more here).
That said, enjoy:
Here is the original post: Republican Voter Suppression App Designed By The Onion
Ecommerce has gotten friendly with the rise of Pinterest, Facebook Gifts, and more ways to sell to peers. So today Inside Network launched a new site called Inside Social Commerce to complement its blogs Inside Facebook, Inside Social Games, and Inside Social Apps.
Led by Damon Brown, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook Marketing, ISC will cover commerce startups and giants alike.
Inside Network’s editor AJ Glasser tells me there’s a big gap for the site to fill. “Ad publications like AdAge are looking at marketing apps, TechCrunch and VentureBeat are looking at third-party commerce startups, but I can’t think of a blog taking a step back and looking at apps that drive users to take a certain activity that will lead to a purchase.”
But what exactly will Inside Social Commerce cover? There’ll be analysis of trends in what ecommerce tools offer, monetization tactics, and deep-dives into apps. Glasser says “you don’t see anyone reviewing Amazon’s Price Check app vs Craigslist mobile vs Target’s new app.”
Glasser went on to say the blog aims to answer questions like “are the food snobs who buy into bulk wine clubs or people who buy from One Kings Lane more likely to buy on mobile or the web? Where can social commerce engage that user and is it the same as the person who shops at Walmart?”
Inside Network was acquired by WebMediaBrands in May 2011 for $14 million, and has been mulling ideas for a new site for awhile. It became clear to the team (where I used to be the lead writer of Inside Facebook) that ISC needed to be its next property when Glasser said it realized that “After you factor out games, commerce is the next biggest app category.”
Inside Social Commerce will start with one to two posts a day ramping up to around three a day, ranging from spot news to the deep, wonky coverage Inside Network is renowned for. Articles will come from Brown as well as social scientist contributor Peggy Albright and the rest of the IN team.
ISC will be pulling in dollars from advertising sponsorships and sales of research reports under the Inside Network Research brand that produces the popular Inside Virtual Goods pdf. Its tools AppData and PageData will help Inside Network share what’s working, what’s not, and what ecommerce companies need to do to keep shopping carts full.
For a taste of what Inside Social Commerce will have on the shelves, check out its breakdown of retail platform ShopIgniter and interview with the promising startup’s CEO. TechCrunch has its own ecommerce channel that all our writers contribute to, but we’re looking forward to learning from the Inside Social Commerce squad who will live and breathe the industry. See you in the press, ISC.
Here is the original post: Inside Network Launches New Blog “Inside Social Commerce” To Chronicle The Future Of Shopping
“In the Studio” continues this week by welcoming a technologist, entrepreneur, and investor who has, over the years, leveraged his work in core imaging and computer vision to discover, help create, and eventually commercialize a range of technologies, many of which have focused around the camera, especially on mobile phones.
Manu Kumar, the self-proclaimed “Chief Firestarter” of his seed-stage fund, K9 Ventures, has been on a roll (and just announced a new, bigger fund). While most of the world is still processing the meteoric rise of products like Instagram and Pinterest, Kumar has been thinking about computer vision for a long time, dating back to his PhD work on eye-tracking. It was as a student, in fact, that he met the founder of Lytro, invested in the company, and spent a considerable amount of time helping the company form. It was through these experiences that Kumar learned more about advancements in camera hardware and what those advancements meant for application development.
Since then, Kumar has had his hands in a number of startups that leverage a camera in some way, such as HighlightCam, Card.io (acquired by PayPal), CardMunch (acquired by LinkedIn), Occipital (which built and sold RedLaser to eBay, among other products), and soon-to-be-launched 3Gear Systems — all in addition to Refocus Imaging, which became Lytro. In this video, we focus our discussion on imaging in general and camera phones, where Kumar traces the hardware advancements to the camera in iPhones, for instance, and what types of new applications these advancements would allow, as well as what hardware improvements he hopes to see in the near future. Kumar also shares some deep advice for developers who are interested in the space, warning them that in order to unlock truly new things with the camera, it requires deep technical expertise in aspects of computer vision and more time than a weekend hack project. For anyone seriously interested in imaging and cameras, this discussion is a must-watch.
While there’s a plethora of tools out there to help you delve deep into the performance of any given website, sometimes you just want to glean an overview of how well a site is faring.
Social Crawlytics is a free tool that analyses URLs to establish how popular they have proved across the social sphere. And here’s how it works.
First up, you must log in using your Twitter credentials.
Once in, you simply enter the URL you want to analyze – in this case, I’ve used The Next Web’s Apps channel, and indicated that I want it to analyze up to two levels deep. This means that it won’t just scan the channel itself (thenextweb/apps), but the articles contained on it. After all, these are what our readers are most likely to share, rather than a link to the channel itself.
You’ll then be presented (after a few moments) with a neat graph and statistical overview of how well the articles have fared across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Delicious, Google+ and Stumbleupon.
As we would’ve expected, Twitter proved to be the most popular platform for sharing for The Next Web’s Apps articles. The main results page contains quite a decent breakdown of the data, and as you scroll down the page you’ll see charts that break it down by percentage (e.g. Twitter, 69%).
However, you can also see the most popular articles too:
So who would want to use Social Crawlytics? Well, anyone with even a passing interesting in SEO, social media or publishing. It’s so easy to use, with the only pre-requisite being that you have a Twitter account to log-in with.
If you’re launching a new website, and want to see what pages or articles perform best from a competitor, you can easily tap in a URL and see which ones have seen the most interest. From this, you can analyze how said Web pages have been constructed, either by looking at keywords used in titles, or simply the theme or content of the piece.