Alex Barnett blog


Microsoft missing out on Community talents

Todd Bishop at Seattle Post-Intelligencer has picked up on the fact that Korby Parnell, ex-product manager for some of Microsoft's most successful developer community-related projects (e.g. Codeplex, Gotdotnet and Claimspace - but that's another story) has been nabbed by Yahoo's Seattle office (Chad Dickerson's team, who runs the Yahoo Developer Network).

Korby, a good friend and neighbour while I was living in Redmond, WA, didn't make a public song and dance of the move, but when he told me he was on his way I realized Microsoft had lost out on an amazing talent.

Microsoft has recently lost two other good community-oriented people: Josh Ledgard left Visual Studio's product team to join software dev company Telligent - developers of Community Server - in July 2007. Josh was closely involved in the development of the innovative MSDN Product Feedback Center, now Connect. Then Joe Morel left the same VS team to join the same software company two weeks later.

Microsoft has done a great job in recent years to foster a more open and transparent culture with respect to customer engagement and Korby and Josh were there at the beginning of the Microsoft blogging revolution and other community-related initiatives, really challenging the notions of old-style centralized command-and-control corporate communication. It's a shame to see this quality of talent walk out of the Redmond campus, true customer advocates - people with a real passion for customers and their needs.

I wish Korby, Josh and Joe the best of luck in their new adventures!

Update 9/2/07:

An anonymous reader has tipped me off on yet another leaver. Sandy Khaund, another big force in Microsoft's community development, has announced he's off to join a start up. Good luck Sandy!


Ted Haeger said:

I would venture that the collapse of the Claimspace social software project is as much an indicator of Microsoft's waning focus on community as it was a contributor to Korby's departure.

The other departures you that you cite, as well Robert Scoble's and your own, further indicate that the sun may be setting on Microsoft's era of investing effort into transparency.


# August 31, 2007 2:19 PM

alexbarnett said:

Ted - nice of you to drop by. I can't agree with the last part of your conclusion (that Scoble's and others' leaving "indicate that the sun may be setting on Microsoft's era of investing effort into transparency").

Why? There are 80,000-odd employees at Microsoft worldwide, many of them blog and have high profiles in the technical community. Good people leave good companies, but more recently the news of their leaving travels faster and wider than it did in pre-blog days. I can tell you that many great community-oriented are joining Microsoft to replace those leaving - at a fairly normal turnover rate I think - and there are many others emerging from within the ranks. The challenge for Microsoft and any other company that has (and grows) high profile and high impact employees that are engaged in the community is to keep them since companies who need to hire these kinds of people are finding it easier to find and contact them in order to make attractive offers.

To clarify on my personal reasons for leaving - I left because of a unique start-up opportunity that Microsoft couldn't offer me (or counter-offer). At the time I left did not feel I was being constrained by Microsoft in my efforts to enable transparency into my old product team. On the contrary - my management team were very supportive and have continued a great level of customer connectivity / feedback. And, from what I've seen this year so far, I think transparency is still on the increase across MS.


# August 31, 2007 9:50 PM

anonymous said:

# September 1, 2007 9:50 PM

Ted Haeger said:

That's exactly my point, though.

# September 1, 2007 10:26 PM

Alex Barnett said:

Ted, what you meant to say was "that's exactly the point I meant to make but didn't".

# September 2, 2007 7:35 AM

Ted Haeger said:

Precisely. Only, you were right and I wasn't.

# September 2, 2007 8:00 AM

Stefan said:

Was it because of payment or was it another grund them have gone?

# September 3, 2007 3:58 PM

Josh said:

Thanks man. Things are going well and I see some really great things for CS in 2008 and a couple of the other platforms we are working on. Hope things are going well with you as well.

# September 3, 2007 7:14 PM

Joe said:

Thanks Alex--I'll definitely miss those kind-of-once-monthly drinking events with the Microsoft community crowd, yourself included.

Keep in touch--my new blog is at the link above.  :)

# September 12, 2007 5:50 PM