Microsoft’s PR chief took to the blogosphere and the airwaves today to tout what he described as the company’s “blistering pace” this summer, drawing comparisons between the company’s accomplishments and the intense hill training of Kenyan distance runners. He also took a moment to defend the track record of Steve Ballmer who has been under fire from critics.
“We’ve been doing our own bit of hard core training here at Microsoft, and our engineers across the company have been setting a blistering pace,” wrote Shaw in a blog post. He went on to list no fewer than 15 major releases and announcements from the company this summer, from the unveiling of the Surface to the acquisition of Yammer to this week’s rebranding of Hotmail.
We’ve certainly noticed the brisk pace, routinely talking about Microsoft’s new-found energy in past episodes of the GeekWire podcast. The company does appear to have found some much-needed mojo, and we’ve picked up on enthusiasm about what they are up to (and not just from the ordinary fan boy and fan girl circles). The stock, meanwhile, is up 12 percent so far this year (though down one percent over the past five years).
But not all is hunky dorky in Microsoftland.
Appearing on KUOW’s Weekday program Thursday morning, Shaw responded to questions from host Steve Scher about those who believe Ballmer should step down in the aftermath of the failed $6.3 billion aQuantive acquisition.
“It’s always interesting to look at things in context,” said Shaw. “Steve is the CEO of Microsoft. Microsoft is a very successful company, and has been.”
As to aQuantive, Shaw added: “Of course, we look at anything that doesn’t look well through a very self-critical lens. We report it out in a pretty transparent way, as we did in that specific case.”
Now, you’d certainly expect the PR chief to head off any criticism of the top brass. But Shaw has been particularly on an aggressive streak lately. You may recall this response to Kurt Eichenwald’s “lost Decade” piece in Vanity Fair in which Shaw started off by saying: “Let’s start by simply dismissing anything that relies on Eichenwald’s piece in VF.”
“Hey, feel free to take shots at us. Call us out when we miss or mess up. But when you tell us we lost a decade, then look at the whole decade, don’t cherry pick a bunch of random things and call it good. Lost? Really? here we are, well out of the “lost” decade, with billions of customers and more coming and still, last time I looked third most valuable company in the world.”