Dave Winer, Chris Pirillo and even Robert Scoble himself to a degree, inform us it’s true. Robert Scoble is moving from Microsoft to a new venture, Podtech.net. Congratulations Robert! There’s nothing like a startup, nor the Bay Area. And on a personal level I’m sure this will give you even more time to be with your son. Congratulations, again!
It’s easy to see how exciting and great this move will be for Robert. But how will this impact Microsoft? To answer this you have to go back to the days when Robert first announced that he was joining Microsoft–a little over three years ago. Robert became part of a group of individuals that have helped changed Microsoft. Sometimes large organizations forget the impact of the individual. Robert helped remind everyone not to forget this–nor the other little things. His often entertaining and infectious enthusiasm shared on his occasionally blunt blog and informal Channel9 videos are archived for years to come. All terrific. But to fully appreciate Robert’s impact you have to look at some smaller, often hidden, things.
When I roll back to 2003, I remember it was a pretty flat year in the Tablet world. I’m not sure of the real numbers, but that’s the way it felt. Starting that spring I blogged and coded as much as I could to share my enthusiasm for the innovative platform. But I admit it was beginning to drag on me. Every link Robert gave to me in his blog was a shot of adrenaline though. It helped keep me going. However, by the fall I was getting tired and other than Robert’s blog I think the only other Microsoft interaction I had was one anonymous employee’s post that an app I was working was something they’d done internally, so, “so what.” I was beginning to think no one cared. And if Microsoft didn’t care, it didn’t matter how much I did. Then, at almost the exact moment I was ready to re-evaluate what I’d been working on, Robert emails. He asks if I want to go to PDC. He’ll help me get a ticket if I pay the rest. I’ve been invited to other conferences, but this little gesture was huge to me. It was at PDC, in fact, that I met for the first time members of the Tablet team. I first ran into Frank Gocinski who was so excited to see one of my demo apps that he began to call others over. Someone cared. Then I was introduced to Arin Goldberg and from that point on I lost all track of time. For who knows how many hours Arin and I talked over many different things. We talked about blogging, about community support, about SKDs, about Tablet functionality, about Tablet availability. Probably most importantly, he listened. After all, I had months of words packed inside. Arin also went out of his way to introduce me to other Tablet team members at PDC. Everyone was so kind, so knowledgeable. I realized then, that others really did care. I just hadn’t connected in the right way. Robert had helped make that connection. In hindsight it was such a little thing, but it’s had years of impact. Thanks, Robert!
I imagine there are many other little personal touches like this during Robert’s tenure at Microsoft.
And while Robert may have been the first to reach out to me from within Microsoft back then, it’s amazing to see how much different Microsoft is today in that way. I mentioned both Frank and Arin (who seems to be online and open for a question about any time of day), well there are many more that reach out daily with the same appreciation for the individual–wherever and whoever they are–and pay attention to the little things. Microsoft is much more “accessible” than I ever remember before. Robert was part of that trend–albeit a highly visible part.
Where Microsoft goes from now, we’ll have to see.
As for Robert, I wish him the greatest of times in this new, exciting venture. I know I’ll be watching.
OK, that being said. Is it time yet for us to ponder acquisition rumors of Podtech.net? What about Yahoo!? Google? Murdoch? Or…could it be….Microsoft!? Hehehe.