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[News] [Rival] Microsoft Search Engine Tactic Called "Bribery as a Business Model"

  • Subject: [News] [Rival] Microsoft Search Engine Tactic Called "Bribery as a Business Model"
  • From: Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 22 May 2008 16:06:05 +0100
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • User-agent: KNode/0.10.4
Hash: SHA1

Microsoft's new tack: Bribery as a business model

,----[ Quote ]
| But truth be told, it's not the worst idea. What's the harm in giving it a 
| shot? In a recession--or whatever you want to call the current economic 
| malaise in the United States--consumers are open to bribes (oh, I forgot: 
| rebates). So why not see if this strikes the people's fancy? But this is only 
| a holding action. The reason more people use Google's search is the user 
| experience. It works better, so they keep returning. Microsoft CEO Steve 
| Ballmer knows this.      



How this kind of thing works - Soft Bribery

,----[ Quote ]
| I'm gonna repost this comment from another ooxml "sudden flipflop" story - I 
| posted it too late to get any attention then but I still wanted it visible. 
| AC for obvious reasons! Also please bear in mind that all numbers are just 
| for example's sake, but the general point is all too accurate. Also bear in 
| mind I have no "inside" information on Durusau at all, I am just trying to 
| tell you some backstory on how these deals can go down, including one I have 
| specific knowledge of.      
| -------
| I want to tell you Slashdot people something about how this kind of thing 
| works. I don't really know the name for it, but I call it "soft bribery". You 
| might also call it "economic alignment" or whatever. Here's what happens.  
| A large, rich stakeholder wants a particular outcome - in this case, MS wants 
| OOXML to be ratified. They have some adversaries - respected leaders of the 
| OSS movement or ODF foundation, in this case. Note that there are always 
| certain people with disproportionate voices - these people are really hurting 
| them. How can they turn them around?    
| They can't outright bribe them. That's illegal and probably wouldn't work 
| anyway - people would feel insulted. So what they need to do is ensure that 
| the "thought leader"'s economic interest is aligned with their own.  
| We see this happen all the time - a previous strong advocate against 
| something, in this case pro ODF and against OOXML, will suddenly get more 
| concilatory. See Durusau's change of tone for an example. Now I don't know 
| him, but I'm pretty sure here's what happened.   
| He would be in constant contact with the OOXML team in MS just as a matter of 
| course. One day, though, they'll tell him to expect a call from a VP or 
| higher - big guns. He's excited to be able to reach higher up in the company. 
| Finally, they're taking him seriously. He might be talking to a billionaire!   
| He'll get the call. "Wow, we're really impressed with your work on this. My 
| team is always telling me what a smart, together guy you are", says the VP or 
| Partner or whatever. "I just wanted to tell you that we really appreciate the 
| work you're doing and we can learn a lot from you. Say, when this is all 
| over, if OOXML finally gets accepted - we'd love to get you in for some 
| interoperability training and consulting, our staff could really use your  
| insight. We pay pretty well, $500 an hour, and we estimate the contract would 
| last for a year fulltime, but we're flexible with your current work - we just 
| need you on call. What do you think?"       
| There you go. That's it. A year's worth at $500/hr is close enough to a 
| million bucks, the guy's got a mortgage, game over. Of course MS wants it 
| kept quiet or the deal's off - that's their "standard business practise", and 
| the contract has an NDA clause.   
| Game over. I'm sure this is what happened to Durusau. I'm pretty sure it's 
| what happened to Miguel. Unless you're independently wealthy, not many people 
| can say no to a few hundred thousand in "consulting". Needless to say, he'll 
| never step foot in any Microsoft building. Hell, maybe it's a lot less than a 
| million - it was for someone I know.    
| I am going to be very vague here - sorry if you think I lose credibility, but 
| I don't want to burn my friend. He was the CEO/CTO (same guy) at a small 
| systems integrator in the educational sector "somewhere in Asia". A largish 
| school deal was in the works, his company advised decision makers in favour 
| of linux. A respected company, had a lot of sway with the local suits, it was 
| looking like going their way. One day he gets a call to the cell phone - wow, 
| one of the big guns!      
| "We really like the work you're doing. Say, it looks like this deal isn't 
| going to go our way - but if it does, we'll need a partner to help us 
| interoperate with the existing infrastructure - you installed a lot of it, so 
| you're first in line and we'd like to book you in advance just to make sure 
| we can get you. What are your rates? Well, we'd like to make sure we have you 
| for at least six months and we actually pay a set rate in this area of $$$. 
| Is that OK? We'll fax over our proposed contract right now, we're pretty 
| eager to go ahead with this, so just to lock in our booking we'll deposit the 
| first 25% of the contract as soon as you fax it back to us, is that good with 
| you? Refundable if we don't get the deal of course. Commercial in confidence, 
| naturally. Let us know ASAP, and good luck with the deal!"          
| The contract was over triple what the linux deal would have earned. He has a 
| wife and kids - I'm not going to cast the first stone. They dropped their 
| opposition, recommended the MS deal, and got paid a quarter of a million 
| (equivalent) to do sweet fuck-all for 6 months. My friend feels like a 
| sell-out, but his daughter's now in a better school.    
| I don't know how to stop this happening, but until it does, MS (or GM, or 
| Exxon, or whoever) will win and win and win. Ask yourself how much your 
| advocacy would sell for. Ask yourself how you'd explain to your wife that you 
| were turning down enough money to send the kids to college because of your 
| preferences for which software to use.    
| This is how it's done people. 


Ex-Microsoft domain buyer's sentencing in June

,----[ Quote ]
| Here's another quick scheduling note for people following the case of Carolyn
| Gudmundson, the former Microsoft domain manager who pleaded guilty to mail
| fraud after being charged with stealing money from the company.

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