Niall Kennedy, a self-confessed “RSS syndication geek” who was hired by Microsoft a few months ago to spearhead the company’s leap into the world of syndication, is leaving Redmond on August 18. Here’s why.
I joined Microsoft in April excited to change the world and build an Internet-scale feed platform to power the experience of Microsoft’s hundreds of millions of users as well as opening up the feed experience to outside developers to leverage in their own applications. The opportunity presented to me was extremely unique and a way to change how the world interacts with syndication technologies such as RSS, RDF, and Atom. The launch of Windows Live and Ray Ozzie’s vision of Internet services disruption made me believe Microsoft was serious about the space and not being left behind in yet another emerging industry as they had been with the web browser and search.
The Windows Live initiative got off to a huge start, with lots of new services created and an “invest to win” strategy in the new division. There were so many new programs created and headcount opening up Microsoft told Wall Street it would be spending $2 billion more than anticipated in the short-term to cover these new costs including over 10,000 new hires over the last fiscal year.
The stock plummeted on the announcement Microsoft did not have its costs under control. Microsoft’s market cap lost close to $59 billion in the six weeks after I joined and second quarter financials were released, more than the GDP of Ecuador and over half the market cap of Google. What do you do when the market responds to your 6 month-old online services strategy by reducing your valuation by 1.5 Yahoos? Windows Live is under some heavy change, reorganization, pullback, and general paralysis and unfortunately my ability to perform, hire, and execute was completely frozen as well….