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December 07, 2005

Reasons for Thousand Bloggers

I was thinking about public Microsoft bloggers and how they can amplify internal complaints. For example if bloggers start to complain about Microsoft cutting its towel service, then it might get picked up by others and thrown around as an example of something-or-other -- much more than it might otherwise be. If you search for Microsoft "towel service" you get hundreds of hits, and the majority of them are complaints about Microsoft cutting it. Not that you are likely to search for this, unless perhaps you were curious if Microsoft DID offer a towel service, but that is the imprint that the term is currently leaving on the Web.

But, consider this justification. Microsoft is cutting its towel service because it is trying to show Wall Street that it is being serious about saving money, in an effort to boost the stock price. But something like cutting towel service is really not worth putting out a press release about. So how do you get the word out? Ballmer is gambling that the number of annoyed/disgruntled/departing employees caused by no towel service will be less than the number of annoyed/disgruntled/departing employees prevented by a rising stock price. But it's like "Dr. Strangelove" -- it only works if the other guy knows! So who is going to spread the word to Wall Street that Microsoft is getting serious about cutting costs? Why, it's the bloggers, of course. They (we) can take the minor message about towel service and whip it into a frenzy, until it reaches the ear of a stock analyst, he bumps his rating in Microsoft, and presto we can all afford to buy our own towels.

I'm not saying I'm going to use this to justify public complaints about Microsoft cuts...just an idea I had.

Posted by AdamBa at December 7, 2005 06:46 PM

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Cutting free towels means getting serious about cutting costs? I'll disagree. I see it as something that most employees didn't care enough about to complain much. Something like not stocking all the floors with office supplies. I would hope that investors would be able to recognize the difference between minor cuts like those and something more drastic. JimAll retiring probably dwarfs the savings from both cutting towels and not stocking the office supplies in terms of overall cost per annum, but I'm only speculating.

Posted by: Drew at December 7, 2005 08:54 PM

Pardon my ignorance, but what the heck is a towel service?

Posted by: Mat Hall at December 8, 2005 04:48 AM

It's something Microsoft doesn't have any more, is there anything else you need to know?

Microsoft has various locker rooms around campus so people who run at lunchtime, bike to work, etc. can take a shower or change. One service they used to provide was having clean towels in the locker rooms, so you could grab a towel and then throw it in a hamper when you were done. They outsourced the job of actually keeping the clean towels stocked and picking up the dirty ones, and evidently the company was charging them $250K a year and only [some low number which I forget] employees were actually using it.

So they stopped, and now you have to bring your own towel. So if you go by someone's office at Microsoft and there's a towel hanging up, they are not necessarily "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" geeks...I mean they probably are given the location...but it may be for use in a locker room.

So you have a nice benefit that Microsoft is providing (the locker rooms) getting publicized as a negative (no more towels). But as I wrote above this is all part of plan. Maybe they added the towel service just so they could cut it?

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at December 8, 2005 08:03 AM

Added it so that they could cut it? Now the lack of towels is part of a conspiracy? Tie it to the war on terror and I think you may have something there.

Posted by: Drew at December 9, 2005 02:18 PM