- Hardcover: 254 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 4, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0471332062
- ISBN-13: 978-0471332060
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,802,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Microsoft First Generation: The Success Secrets of the Visionaries Who Launched a Technology Empire Hardcover – October 4, 1999
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If a company's soul is defined by its employees, Cheryl Tsang's Microsoft First Generation offers the definitive look at the way one of the world's top corporations has really been shaped. In straightforward but perceptive profiles, Tsang introduces a dozen key individuals hired by Bill Gates and Paul Allen before 1990--when the primary focus was creation and development, rather than growth and maintenance. They are mathematician-programmer Bob O'Rear (hired two years before Microsoft relocated from Albuquerque to Seattle), technical writer Russell Borland, programmer Richard Brodie, senior vice president Scott Oki, chief information officer Neil Evans, CPA Dave Neir, Ida Cole (the first female VP), CD-ROM author Min Yee, technical manager Ron Harding, publishing-systems manager Russell Steele, Asian-business-development manager Paul Sribhibhadh, and senior diversity administrator Trish Millines Dziko. "The people who comprised Microsoft's first generation were exactly right for their time. They were the pioneers," Tsang writes. "The founders of Microsoft were shrewd to have hired them, for the company's monumental and continuing success would not have been possible without [their] exceptional work and passion." --Howard Rothman
Microsoft and Bill Gates are synonymous. Although Gates appears on the covers of news magazines and is treated as a celebrity, few are familiar with Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. Allen, who left Microsoft in 1983, is nonetheless the third richest man in America, with $22 billion. Then there are the even more anonymous "Microsoft millionaires," the young workers hired by Gates and Allen because they were bright, willing to take risks, and possessed a "maniacal work ethic." In return, they collected stock options that were worth more when they left Microsoft and cashed them in than they could ever have dreamed. Tsang profiles 12 of those people, who represent a cross section of Microsoft's first generation of employees. Included are programmers, project managers, and individuals who worked in marketing and in accounting. Tsang conducted extensive interviews to find out the paths those men and women took to arrive at Microsoft, what life was like there, and what happened to them after they left the company. David Rouse
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The book is like entering a time warp for me, and reentering a very special time. Realize that almost EVERYONE was working longer, harder, and more effectively than they ever thought possible, almost from day one. The result is one amazing company. The force of Steve Ballmer with individuals is underscored in the various profiles: He's a force for good, but often brutal. The importance of the committed Microsoft experience to the profiled individuals' lives is clear. The consumptive fire of the early years burned out many, which many divorced spouses and alienated families will testify. This experience was very much like going off to war. Few people even knew what stock options were. Few had high starting salaries. Most were there for the love of software, the pc, the early mac; for the love of a growing underdog industry; for the love of competition, going up against IBM, Novell, Borland, Wordperfect, Ashton-Tate; for the love of their team, their project. All good people who did good work.
Microsoft made work pure and unadulterated. Meetings were rare. Get a contract, set a deadline. Do the work. Stay up night and day until it's done. Do the best you really can. Don't whine. Ship it. A simple life really, but extraordinarily demanding. It seemed like half the people were from Harvard, half from MIT, and half from Xerox Parc. Smart people who worked hard. That's the simple secret. Get enough of them together and you've got critical mass.
As things grew they became different. Easier, but more indirect, more bureaucratic, more social, more market-driven. The spoils of war get fought over. Eventually Bill, who is obviously very smart (but a lot more like one of the three smartest guys in high school than God) became **BILL GATES, THE RICHEST SMARTEST MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE UNIVERSE, LET US ALL BOW AND PRAISE CAESAR**. Then came the stories that read like this: "With $90 billion dollars, Bill Gates could buy the entire continent of Africa, and still have money left over to fill up the Grand Canyon with silver dollars." So the measurement in dollars became the thing, and not the thing itself.
Microsoft is a nice wonderfully pure monopoly. The early hard work has paid off big time for stockholders. And the VAST amount of high-quality, professionally produced software is a MONSTROUS good for society. Some companies were crushed by Microsoft in the business arena. They're the business victims. The human victims are the families of those who worked so hard. When you're at war, you're not home with the wife and kids. Better to have been single at the time.