In the hierarchy of written communication, anonymous Internet commenters rank a slight notch above people who carve swear words into bathroom stalls and a tad below kids who say the alphabet by burping.
Try telling that to the tech blogosphere today, however, because one might think that every Microsoft employee who attended the recent all-staff meeting in Seattle hates their boss and hates their company.
The hubbub first surfaced on the blog Mini Microsoft's story about the 20,000-employee meeting at Safeco Field. More than a hundred anonymous commenters posted their thoughts on the story--many of them negatively.
Like this one:
It is the most depressing time per my 10 years at MS, actually. Everyone is either leaving or planing to leave. Everyone is selling stocks. The review results this year looks opposite to the actual work. Good engineers who, is used to own code, are getting 4 and 5, so they are leaving, but the ones, who is awarded the top scores, are unable to manage the inherited code base.
And this one:
What a sad spectacle. While SteveB was yacking away, people were leaving in droves. Back in the good old days when BillG spoke, EVERYONE listened.
Steve, you've lost the support of your employees - when will you realize that you're holding this once great company back? Oh and BTW, you can take LB (HR chief Lisa Brummel) and KT (COO Kevin Turner) with you too. They like the taste of your Kool Aid...
After that, the P-I weighed in with a piece headlined "Has Steve Ballmer lost the support of Microsoft employees?" and even Gawker's Gizmodo picked up the story line and ran the same exact headline.
But let's take a step back here, shall we?
What we have are the unverified ramblings of several (possibly fewer) big-corporation employees who don't like their boss. Can't imagine when the last time that happened was.
Sure, Ballmer's no "BillG." He's large, loud, sweaty, and he doesn't inspire the kind of blind devotion that his predecessor did. And judging by Microsoft's flatlined stock price, Ballmer isn't turning Apple and Google into yesterday's news with his innovative products.
What Ballmer is doing, however, and what Microsoft is doing as well as ever, is making money.
Just last June Microsoft announced a record-breaking $26 billion in income and $70 billion in revenue. The corporation is the second most profitable in the country, behind only Exxon.
Here's a chart that shows steady profit gains year after year.
So when a bunch of whiny employees (if they even are employees, and not just trolls) go online to bitch about their boss not being enough like Bill Gates, it's not some great discovery to find out they don't support their CEO. News flash: Most of them probably don't.
But it's not Ballmer's job to be loved by his employees. It's his job to make money and make sure they still have jobs--and that's something he's obviously very good at.