3. Microsoft's Sinofsky Situation
Here's one out of Redmond, Washington that's got us a bit bewildered.
Steven Sinofsky, the head of Microsoft's (MSFT - Get Report) Windows unit, exited the technology giant Tuesday barely two weeks after the launch of its flagship Windows 8 product. The move was completely unforeseen and neither Microsoft nor Sinofsky, a 23-year veteran of the company, offered an explanation for the split other than to say the parting was "mutual."
Okay. Maybe it's not as big a deal as Steve Jobs or Bill Gates leaving the building, but it sure is unsettling. Don't you think?Seriously, if a well-known restaurant's longstanding chef serves you its signature dish and then scurries off the premises without warning, would you dig in immediately or wait to find out if something's wrong in the kitchen? Maybe that analogy is a bit of a stretch. We'll try again. Say Apple's (AAPL) star product designer Jonathan Ive unexpectedly pops off a fortnight after the release of the newest iPhone, would you buy the smartphone on the spot or wait to see why the Brit bolted? Alright, that comparison sucks too, yet hopefully you get our point. No matter how much Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer -- and apparently a lot of other folks at the company as well -- hated Sinofsky, we don't understand why they would not keep him around for the entire roll-out of Mister Softee's tent-pole product. So what if he's a control freak who can't play well with the kids over in the Xbox division? They should have found a way to keep him around, locking him in a closet if necessary, lest they face a mob of consumers intent on sniffing around for metaphorical cracks beneath Windows surface. Or even worse, literal cracks in the Surface, Microsoft's brand new tablet, which Sinofsky helped develop to confront Apple's wildly popular iPad. Ballmer informed employees about Sinofsky's departure in a memo on Monday simply saying that "Steven Sinofsky has decided to leave the company." Ballmer told the media later on that it was "imperative that we continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings". Alright big guy, we get it. Let's call a Sinofsky a Sinofsky. You didn't think the guy was a team player and from all indications you wanted this thorn out of your side a long time ago. But with Microsoft's stock back below $30 and the window on Windows 8 closing fast, it seems fairly clear you should have put your ego aside and taken one for the team. You put up with Sinofsky's snootiness for over two decades, so what's the harm in letting him stick around a few more months when your biggest product is on the line?