Microsoft used to be all about Windows, but in recent years, we’ve seen a huge transformation in the company. They went from thinking monolithically to branching out and making new connections with users on several different devices. This week we break down how Microsoft’s failures and new leadership led to a more diversified list of products and how humility helped them move forward.
Paul Ford It’s such a beautiful simulation that you find yourself spending time into it. And it’s fascinating to learn how to land a plane or crash a plane in my case. [music fades in, plays alone for 15 seconds, ramps down]
Rich Ziade Yes.
PF You know, I’m not really much of a gamer, not my thing.
RZ No, I know.
PF But I am fascinated, like I do like to pay attention to consoles, and I like to pay attention to what’s happening in 3d.
RZ Yeah because it’s so impressive, right? I mean, the from the indie scene to the really high big budget production stuff. It’s incredibly impressive. I want to pitch one game. It’s not that new. J Mac made fun of me for it, but it’s called Wreckfest. [Okay] It’s available for Xbox and PlayStation and PC!
PF What do you do?
RZ It’s just a racing game, but they went like an extra hundred miles on like the collision physics.
PF Oh yeah, just smash just—
RZ Yeah, and it’s incredibly satisfying. And the physics is so good. Like, if they dent your car door, and it won’t close anymore. It just sort of flaps as you’re driving. It tickles a part of your brain that would typically be used for hitting other people. And satisfies it.
PF Yeah, that’s right, just calms you right down.
RZ So it’s really good. It’s I think old enough now to be $30 instead of 70. Or whatever games cost nowadays.
PF Look, I’m gonna tell you, they finally got me, that’s what happened here. That’s why I brought this up.
RZ Oh, let me guess! Let me guess the game. Witcher?
PF Witcher looks good. I’ve thought about Witcher. But no, Flight Simulator.
RZ And you don’t understand. For me, Flight Simulator is like running into a college friend…30 years later.
PF It is! The first version came out in ’82. I mean, it literally used to be like five lines and a number. [Yes!] You’d move your cursor keys or…
RZ Flight simulator ’95 was a big moment, actually. But the difference here, Paul, is boy, your college friend has not aged in fact, he looks way better now than he did back in ’95.
PF Yeah, he also has a jet and can fly anywhere in the world. So first of all, I have this giant Linux box that I use at home because I’m a big nerd. But you can always boot it into Windows, which I hardly ever do. So first of all, this is what I want to talk about. I don’t want to talk too much about Flight Simulator. I want to talk about like the world that Microsoft is making because it’s fascinating,
RZ But it’s worth mentioning. Just go watch a YouTube video. It’s pretty stunning. What they’ve done.
PF Oh, so I mean, basically the entire game. It’s not a game. It’s a simulation, and you just crash expensive airplanes into asphalt over and over and over again. And somehow it’s satisfying.
RZ Have you been playing it?
PF Yeah, I have, because it just—you forget you have a family. You’re just like, ”Oh, hey, I’m flying.” I was like, you know what, let me try this. And so you can pick anywhere in the world and fly from point A to point B and it uses Bing Maps, It uses like these 3d renderings of the whole freakin world. You want to fly out of Gaziantep airport or you want to fly it? What did I do? I flew from Beirut to Ben Gurion.
RZ Which is not…doable.
PF Which is—you can’t do that. [Yeah] No, so it’s just this like, weird fantasy world where you just fly around and the physics are simulated pretty accurately. And you learn about ailerons and flaps, that that’s literally the game. So there’s a few things to point out. One is Microsoft had this giant thing sitting around, had Flight Simulator, a very well known brand. But there are other ones. There’s one called X-plane. X dash plane. That is huge that the flight simulation community kind of prefers I think for accuracy. There are people who build, you know, their basements to look like cockpits so that they can pretend to fly planes all the time.
RZ Oh yeah. This is a world.
PF So there’s a lot of going on. But Microsoft has basically had this brand sitting around for 38 years, 37 years. [Yes] So, so there’s that. Then they’ve got Xbox, but it’s not out for Xbox, but they have this new thing called like Xbox Play or Xbox for PC, you give them $1 a month, goes up to five later, but $1 a month, and you get access to like 100 games, one of which is Flight Simulator. [yep] Which cost 60 bucks.
RZ You’re renting games, essentially.
PF See how they got me? [yeah] I already downloaded for games. [Ahhh!] Suddenly on my PC, okay, and I’m playing Flight Simulator after 10pm to 2am. Unfortunately, on Saturday night, that wasn’t good. That wasn’t great for my family or me.
RZ This model of like, not purchasing the actual—I still think about the albums in my Spotify account, which is so ridiculous. The founder of Spotify came out recently and said stop thinking you have to put an album out every two years, you need to do a lot more than that. You have to put a lot of content out to make money on my platform.
PF Artists love that, by the way they artists just were like, absolutely. I love to be in a giant candlepin where an angry Swede is telling me that I must yield content for him.
RZ No but you’re highlighting something pretty important here, which is you know, the idea of consumption now is just access. It’s not actually having the physical thing. I mean, yeah, and the album covers were great for a while but I don’t need the move. [No, I know] I mean, I’ve seen walls of DVD cases in people’s homes. I’ve seen that. It’s weird.
PF Nah, it doesn’t matter. You know what’s open, you know, what’s open on my desktop all day long? Spotify.
RZ Yeah, you just let it go, right? It just goes in meanders everywhere.
PF Spotify, Slack, a text editor and a web browser. That, that is computing as far as I can tell.
RZ So whether it be games, music, TV, TV shows, movies, it’s just access. We just want to pay one fee. And then we want to be able to rummage through the catalog. Microsoft, I think was something very fundamental has happened to Microsoft over the last 10 years. They realized that their love for their own code was unhealthy.
PF They blue mobile.
RZ The blue mobile, and they were blotching—
PF Ballmer went home. You know, and again, like, I’m mocking out, you know, Spotify, or I’ll say something about Ballmer. Everybody’s making trillions, you know, or hundreds of billions like it is a hell of a thing. But the new guy comes in and he’s all clout. Satya Nadella. And suddenly, Microsoft is like, ”yeah, we’re just gonna admit that Linux exists.” They whiffed mobile, so bad that I think it was existential. And they’re like, ”Yeah, all right. Well, I guess this is how the world works now.”
RZ No. But then they paused and looked at their own value. At one point, Microsoft Office was your bait, right? Like if you had to have the OS to have Office. So the idea of creating a killer version of Office for iOS or for Mac was like, ”Hey, hey, we’ll put something out there. So there’s interop. And you could send the files to each other. But the best ones got to be on Windows.”
PF Maybe. Maybe we’ll do that.
RZ Yeah, maybe we’ll do it.
PF Or maybe we’ll make our own XML schema, tell you it’s open. And wish you good luck.
RZ Ohhh that’s a different podcast.
PF That was a world right. So they were there lock in experts, and then they just got their asses handed to them. Meanwhile, you got some you look at the weekend, everybody just had. You got Microsoft with Microsoft Flight Simulator kind of owning gaming, which is a vast, vast world, right? And then you got Apple, the monster extracting 30% from everybody wrecking Fortnite, which is the only game anybody cares about in the world right now. [Right] You know, I think from an ethical point of view, you’d be hard to tell the difference. [Yeah] It’s not like one company is some, you know, giant Vanguard. But so now it’s got this—and it’s integrated Bing Maps. So suddenly, they’re using their whole enormous platform.
RZ You know, I haven’t read this Satya Nadella—Satya Nadella is the new CEO of Microsoft. I think one of the things Nadella did, was he said, ”You know what, forget about how you got there. Is this where you want to be?” And what that did was it removed that loyalty to your own work product. [Yeah] I mean, here’s really, to me had to be a moment inside of Microsoft. Internet Explorer, the new Internet Explorer, which is now called Edge, Microsoft Edge, which is their native browser in Windows is running on Chromium, Google’s code. And there are there are team members who probably worked on Internet Explorer for 15 years, like 15 years straight, just worrying about how it parses.
PF There are!
RZ There are!
PF I don’t even—frankly, I don’t know if it’s Chromium or Blink or WebKit. But it’s like it’s the open sourced, Apple, Google web base.
RZ No, it is Chromium. If I am not mistaken.
PF It’s Chromium?
RZ It is Chromium. But the point is, it’s not Microsoft code. And what he’s saying, when it comes to whether it be, ”hey, we’re gonna invest in Android apps, we’re gonna invest in iOS apps, we’re gonna invest in, you know, browser, like, why am I fighting this fight, there’s already invest—” It’s because he’s saying, stop trying to find value in your own work product and think about the value from the perspective of the consumer, essentially. Think about value to them. They don’t care. It’s the power—if the parser is good. And it’s fast, and the browser secure? I’m good. I don’t care.
PF I mean, this is what’s very complicated about our industry, right? browsers are so complicated. Now they’re as complicated, they’re more complicated than say, operating systems used to be. And there’s really only two choices. You’ve got the kind of WebKit you’ve got the Safari, Chromium Edge base, and then you’ve got Gecko, which is the one that Firefox runs. [Yep] And it’s really stressful because now you got Firefox is definitely Mozilla is is going through a moment. And you’ve got these really two ways to represent the whole web. And there’s there’s some outliers, and there’s some things that people are doing, but that’s it. And if Firefox goes you got one monolithic platform, basically controlled by Google, like in the scale of it.
RZ And it’s under the under the banner of open source, like it is open source, the Chromium platform is open source, etc. I’m guessing Microsoft is now contributing back.
PF It’s open source, but it’s controlled, right, like Linux remains run by a couple people. You know, if Tim Berners-Lee was still in charge of the base of the web, you know, he was still like the head of the chromium project, deciding what went in, what didn’t go in. That would be a different story. Yeah, you’d be like, alright, well, we have this one giant and anyone can fork it and do whatever they want. It’s a company that is very commercially aligned with the web going a certain way, so that gives people pause. I mean, I’m using Firefox at home, but every now and then I have a reason to open up Chrome, then I open up Chrome. [Paul chuckles] Like it’s not—I use Linux, and then I boot into Windows, which also supports Linux. Like those—
RZ The commitment is gone, like, ”Oh, my God, are you picking Mac OS or Windows”, like it’s—
PF Part of this is you and I not being 25 anymore. Like, it’s very hard to get worked up around a technology or a standard when you know, in your heart that two to three years from now, there’ll be something else entirely different that everyone will be just as incensed and upset about.
RZ But I mean, let’s step back, though. I mean, Microsoft was supposed to fade 10 years ago, 15 years ago. Everything moved to the cloud, everything moved to the web.
PF But what you are going to have is like this beast that was kind of running in the background, you know, all the desktops still ran windows, all the office machines, and so it was still going to be an absolutely giant company, but it was gonna, it wasn’t gonna buy GitHub, and it wasn’t gonna buy Minecraft, right. Like those are two weird acquisitions.
RZ Yeah. LinkedIn.
PF Microsoft buying LinkedIn makes a sort of twisted sense. Like that could have happened at any moment. [Yeah] But you know, when they’re buying Minecraft, they’re just buying people logged into this giant thing. And their ability to sell more and more stuff on top of it for a decade or more. And the same is true with GitHub. As far as I can tell, as stewards of acquisitions go, they’ve done pretty well by both of them, they haven’t wrecked either one. Same is true of LinkedIn. Although it’s kind of you can’t really wreck LinkedIn, that’s like wrecking a wreck.
RZ It’s a great point. I mean, it credit to them. Because usually ego gets in the way, and I just bought you. So now it’s time for you to get on my network, or whatever. And I think I think this goes back to the same thread around, don’t think too much about your own value, and your own network being better or your own platforms being better. You know that that thought shift, I think is massive.
PF Are you familiar with the concept of like the Monorepo? No, the Monorepo is the giant code repository. Like you start at Google, and you download two gigs of code, just not pictures, just code. Right? [Right] And that’s all the code, got the whole thing. And you’ve got your special database technology. And your special this and your special that. So if you want to store data at Google, you probably should do it on Big Table. Right?
RZ So it’s like a starter kit.
PF That’s it—no, it’s everything. Not a starter kit, the whole shebang, get all the code. Same with Facebook. And so this has been like a thing in Silicon Valley tech companies where you get the all the code, maybe Microsoft does, maybe doesn’t. The point is, when you come into Google, Google makes an acquisition well that Google does something, well, the power is going to come when you get all that stuff onto Google’s platform. When you use Big Table and you use their networking and their cloud services, and you make it work like Google, then you’re going to get Google power added to your big idea. And I don’t think Microsoft sees it that way. I think Microsoft is like, ”oh, cool, man. Oh, my God, if we took flight simulator, we should use Bing Maps. Yeah, and then give it a couple years, and we’ll get everybody in there. And they’ll be like flying around, and then we’ll sell them more stuff. You know, they’ll make a LinkedIn for for pilots in the game.” You know, I mean, it’s just, they don’t care. They’re just like, ”Oh, yeah, cool.”
RZ You’re saying something here that’s hugely important, which is, I think the big shift that Nadella brought to them as they stopped thinking monolithically as, ”Are you in or are you out?” And he said, ”The hell with it? Who cares? Let’s just make Excel.”
PF Windows. Windows, Windows, Windows, Windows.
RZ Exactly! And he’s like, you know what, there’s 180 million, whatever 800 and 900 million people on Android, go make Excel really good on Android.
PF I’d rather have the attention and the brand awareness and the connection, then prove some point about Windows ’95.
RZ Yeah, exactly. And I think, you know, that lack of religion, that lack of orthodoxy, allowed them and this is worth noting as well to eat Google’s lunch when it comes to cloud computing. I mean, Google got caught completely flat footed. And Azure is the real deal, it’s Amazon Web Services and Azure and Google is a distant third, if I’m not mistaken, I actually know about this, because I’ve talked to people at Google, who are responsible with making Google Cloud happen. Like start like, why aren’t we succeeding the same way here?
PF I have a funny business theory you can—don’t take this too seriously. But I’ll throw it out. Which is that the hardest thing to commodify is your core business, right? Like Google has never been able to make a really good search product except for its own. They used to have that desktop search device that you could buy. You drop it on your—you know?
RZ Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Oh my god.
PF No, and then they had like, you plug their search in and they give you a window and they would search your site for you and stuff like that. [yeah] And it just always screws up. Meanwhile, everyone, just finally you’re like, alright, I’m gonna go get Elasticsearch and stand up my own. And like for Microsoft, they’re good at cloud services, right? But like, you could argue at this point, just like open source Windows, just to hell with it. Like just create like, a giant Windows commodity universe, but it’s still touchy like they’re not gonna blow up that world just yet. [yeah] What I see what Microsoft is a company that’s realizing, it’s gonna get as much of your time as it possibly can. Oh, there’s gonna be millions of hours spent on Minecraft? That’s worth it. [yeah] And I mean, Flight Simulator. I’m telling you, man, you go to sleep you dream about crashing your plane. I’m already hooked into five Microsoft services that I’ve never even thought about hooking into.
RZ Yeah. Let me ask you, so don’t you want to land, don’t you want to land the plane?
PF I’m trying. Have you ever tried to land a plane with this damn thing? [Paul laughs] It’s just—
RZ It’s hard?
PF I am landing, but then—oh it’s hard. It’s hard because what you gotta do, you gotta like, lower your airspeed.
RZ Yeah, it’s a whole—I, I got into this at one point, but not not recently. Yes.
PF If you dive the speed goes up. So I mean, you gotta like, you gotta get that just right. I’m always missing the runway by like, maybe like 300 feet. Like, I’m just a little too high.
RZ Ohhh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
PF I mean, it’s just math. It’s physics. Anyway, regardless, when the press talks about tech, we tend to talk about like, monolithic simple successes. Mark Zuckerberg made a social network. And now everything—[yep, yep, yep] And he’s another one, man, he, WhatsApp is gonna live on that on that Facebook platform. Everybody’s gonna log in one way. That’s it. We’re kind of, that was nice. I hope you had a good time. Yeah, or Apple or whatever. And Microsoft is kind of over to the side. And you know, it doesn’t have to go before Congress as much, even though [Paul chuckles] it’s up to all kinds of stuff. But you look at them. And you’re like, alright, I get it right, instead of just doubling down on your monolithic platform, and assuming you are going to be able to mold the world and your image, you got your ass kicked, and you went, ”ah well, alright, we’re gonna just, we’re gonna go for it, we’re just gonna have a lot of really interesting things. If something doesn’t work, we’re gonna kill it.” Like they killed Mixer. Their live streaming Twitch competitor, right? But they’re gonna get those hours, they’re gonna get them and they’re gonna get you locked in 25 different ways. I have an Xbox account, which I never thought I would have. And I have it on my, my Windows PC, which windows came with the desktop, because I was gonna run Linux, like, I mean, it’s just like, they just kind of show up.
RZ You know, let’s talk about the counter case here. This has to do with corporate ego. You know, I was reading this piece about this engineer inside of Kodak, who was evangelizing like digital images, like digital, you know, cameras, and just getting shot.
PF In like the 80s?
RZ Yeah. Have you seen this article? Like they actually invented it. [Rich laughs]
PF No, but I mean, they were very early with digital image.
RZ Yeah. Yeah. And he just kept getting brushed aside. You know, Xerox invites—Jobs wants to hang out, you know, PARC. They’re like, ”Yeah, sure. Come check it all out.” [Rich laughs] You know, it’s ego. I think it’s ego, at first of its ego. And I think, you know, the organization, the corporate organism optimizes around what it does well, rather than questioning whether it needs to keep evolving and changing, right? You know, the Walgreens story is worth mentioning, or Walgreens was a was a diner chain of diners. And then McDonald’s shows up and it’s like, wait a minute, they cut out the waiter and you know, the waitress and the waiter, they cut out, actually washing dishes because the paper product gets thrown away. And you’re in and out. And they just grew like a weed. And Walgreens sat down and said, what are we? We’re dotted all over the United States and said, you know what, hard hard left, that takes a lot of humility. A lot of—I’m going to use the word corporate humility right now, Paul, because I’m trying to come up with catchphrases that you can use in like business books. It takes enormous humility, to shed what you got really great at, then make that hard, hard shift in another direction. I think Microsoft achieved it by changing leadership and giving real power to the person that came on. Very often CEOs come on, and they’re actually not empowered in any meaningful way. Especially ones that come on to hugely successful large companies. But they really gave this guy the wheel.
PF But also like, this guy is following one of the great sort of angry operators in CEO history. [That’s right] Ballmer. And who came after Gates, who is like just a Machiavellian strategist.
RZ Exactly. And so credit to them to A, selecting him and B, leaving him alone, to chase a vision, a particular vision.
PF Where I’m fascinated by this, right, is that the pattern of like a Flight Simulator starts to line up with the things that we see. So we’ve talked about it, we did some work for MailChimp, right? And the work was, Postlight, come in and help us do this, we’re going to work together and we’re going to make our API documentation, we’re going to make it really easy for people to use MailChimp, we’re going to take our mandrill platform, which is transactional, and bring it all in to one big hub. And the docs are going to be easy, they’re gonna be easy to read, they’re gonna be easy to use, they’re actually going to be you know, you’re going to be able to like get code out of them. And we’re going to update all the tools and the frameworks on GitHub, so that anybody who wants to get in start using this platform who is a reasonably experienced programmer They’re going to be able to just kind of get moving real fast. And that is a high level of API docs, it was a really cool project we worked on for months. But what you see there, right is like, well, we got this other platform that we really should give a little more love and attention. And we could really be serving our developer community a little bit better. And we’re not going to own this whole everything about email. But we definitely could be supporting people better, we could be using the platform we have and bring all the pieces together so that it’s so much easier to jump in, and it’s so much easier for them to connect to us. I keep seeing this pattern. That’s one of the nice things about MailChimp, and that work being public is that I can talk about it. But I keep seeing this pattern—we and actually a little bit we saw with the MTA, where it’s like we have all these systems, and we want to make them more useful, you know, internally and externally, it is actually the same kind of thinking, which is, we’re not going to own this and be the only person that ever does it right, we’re not only going to do things that only we can do, even though that’s way more gratifying for your ego.
RZ I feel like there’s immense pride in the in the the world that they built, right? It’s like, who could come near us? How can we ever turn our backs to this incredible world that we built? And you know, the truth is they could they’ve survived and just been the OS people, you know, they have their partnerships with Dell.
PF Of course.
RZ Of course they could!
PF It takes a lot of time for all the air to come out of like a half a trillion dollar company. Right, and now they’re worth much more.
RZ Absolutely. And so to be willing to say, we are more than this, we are not shrink wrap software anymore. We’re not just our partnerships with Dell and the like, what else are we? And then to go right and to make hard, difficult changes, you know, there’s no doubt there was probably a lot of snickering and resistance early days, as they were shifting. There must have been, because you’ve got people who, I mean, their entire reputation is based on—
PF Oh, you’re giving up power. That’s what it looks like.
RZ We talk to people who oftentimes don’t have an exact idea of how to get out of the bind they’re in. By bind, I don’t mean to have a problem. I think that it could be, they’ve said, okay, it’s finally time to get off this legacy platform, or it’s time to compete properly with the bank across the street.
PF Our salespeople are tired of our mobile app that they use for tracking inbound leads, whatever.
RZ Correct. And they come to us with what they think is the right path. And then we sometimes get caught in a very, very awkward spot, because we tell them, we think it’s a bad idea. [yeah] And let’s be clear, here, let’s let’s frame it properly. We are 70ish people, small agency in the world of agencies, you are a nine figure, hundreds of millions in revenue company, you must know what’s going on. And then we sit there in the room and we say to them, ”we don’t think you’re thinking about this the right way.” That’s a lot. And a lot of times people steamroll us for that. They just go right power—they just they get into a defensive posture. Because who the hell are we? Right? And this goes back to the point of that humility that’s necessary to put aside the things you got really good at that are now outdated, and think really differently about how you’re going to best position yourself to move forward to innovate, etc, etc.
PF This is what’s wild, right? Because and let’s be clear, you and I, I don’t know the business that I’m talking to most, I don’t know how it works, their business. What I know is that, you know, there’s a couple of interesting things happening in the world of auto generated API’s that could save them about four months of development time. And when you align that with their strategy, [yep] they can get something into the market and start getting more data for their analytics platform. And it could be a lot faster, and it could cost you know, a lot less than the $12 million they were expecting them to pay. And so like, that’s what I know, right? And I can help you with that. And you can tell me about your business. And we can kind of all admit we’re idiots and then kind of go from there. But and it’s hard to do in a consulting context. That’s you never supposed to say it.
RZ Well, I think you’re supposed to say ”It’s a great idea!”
PF ”Your scale is so fascinating. And anything that you want to do we’ll help you do.” Right, that’s what you’re supposed to say.
RZ You know, we’re not—obviously Postlight has built a great reputation and a great brand, but we’re nowhere near the big brands right? And you know, you go to you know, the likes of McKinsey, the likes of a, you know, a Deloitte, you’re not going to them with the answer, you’re going to them for the answer. You’re going to them so they can do the thinking here for you, and help you out of this jam that you’re in. Right. Like and by jam, it could, it could be anything, right? It could be modernizing, it could be merging with some other company. It could be anything, right, assessing whether you should buy a company, could be anything.
PF I mean, let’s be clear the difference between them and us as we answer a specific set of questions with a lot of experience. They will answer every question. You could be like, ”I don’t know if people will buy blue textiles in Maine” and they’ll be like, ”Let me get it for you.”
RZ Not only will they answer every question, they will answer every question with 60 slide deck.
PF Oh, yeah.
RZ They’ll go as deep as you want.
PF And a partner will go—a partner will present it.
RZ Absolutely. Absolutely. You got to wonder, do you think Xerox, when it started to see computers showing up and they’re killing it with their copiers, you think they hired the likes of McKinsey or the likes of to say, ”Should we, should we be worried?” Like you can’t turn away from the iceberg at that point? Is that what happened?
PF Xerox was a tricky one. That story is pretty well told actually. They, so they set up Xerox PARC, which literally invented computing as we understand it today. Which in retrospect, seems obvious. But at the moment, it was like, ”What are these hippies doing?” And Xerox PARC was also focused on some stuff that was gonna make copiers run faster. So that was cool. Like Xerox got that. They’re like, ah, good. Thank God, they’re doing something real. [Rich chuckles] You could see it, right. It’s not, they had it in their hand, but they couldn’t see it. Steve Jobs could. And so he licensed a lot of that gave, Xerox some Apple stock, which frankly, they probably should have held on to I’m assuming at this point would be worth more than Xerox. And but they sold it and made, you know, zillions of dollars at a certain point or some huge amount. It wasn’t it was like 100 million or something. So they got good value out of licensing that IP. I mean, it’s just like, I’m sure with Xerox, there are people going like, the copier is so powerful. You can do anything with it. And Xerox is like, yeah, as long as it’s invoices. [Rich laughs] That’s what we need to photocopy. And legal documents, right? Like, don’t, this is like you and me, man, we’re talking and you know, but we have to remember that most of your clients or most of your work always fits within within a certain pattern. And you’re going to, you’re going to take care of that. Right. So when Xerox finally launches its computer system, it’s like 20,000, it costs as much as a house, you know, and it is utterly focused on tasks for the office, it doesn’t have a computer vibe, it’s basically like a copier with object oriented systems built into it, you know, it’s a hell of a thing. It’s a giant beast of a machine and nobody buys any, because they’re so expensive. What it’s really, really hard to do. And this kind of goes back to the earlier point, you really avoid commoditizing yourself and destroying your own business for every good reason. Like, it’s so obvious, [yeah] why you wouldn’t want to do that. Except that, you know, Steve Jobs is gonna come along and sell the thing that Xerox shipped out for 20,000, but it has all these really important features, he’ll sell it for two grand in the form of the Mac, and even then it’s too expensive.
RZ Also he’s optimized to create that, right? He can’t create—if he was a department in Xerox—I mean, this is the thing that they all do. We’re making it very black and white, but it’s not because what they end up doing is they always put a little bit of money on the side to play around, just in case, right? [oh yeah!] Like Kodak did the digital photography inside of Kodak. But what happens was you when you bring that back out to the the main org, you get immediate resistance, because it’s not core. The notion of innovation groups and innovation teams is fine, it’s fine, as long as you actually give them real money, real risk to play with. If you’re going to just give them play money and play risk, don’t bother. Maybe you’ll create some intellectual property. But don’t bother. Otherwise, someone else is going to do it because a big org is not optimized to do that kind of—I mean, that’s why the Microsoft story to bring it full circle is so interesting. their willingness to shed what they were to become what they are today.
PF I mean, I guess the lesson to draw, right? It’s like, imagine the worst possible market, ass kicking, and then operate as if that has just happened. And that’s how you get to the future. However, it’s really, really hard for people to do that. They actually have to get their ass kicked first, really like what is your posture of humility, if the thing that gives you the most power was suddenly taken away from you. [music ramps in] The thing that you were absolutely sure is going to happen.
RZ Realizing that you’re not going to have total control, that you should—if you’re going to change your strategy, change it, and then just navigate after that. I feel like we already kind of very sneakily weaved in what Postlight does as we partner with our clients!
PF When you’re in that moment where it’s time to do the new thing. We’re great!
RZ Yes. Check us out.
PF Not your partner for enterprise integration with Salesforce. But, we’ll do that. We’ll do some of it.
RZ No, no, we’ll do everything Paul. Let’s not be selective now. It’s a pandemic man. [Paul & Rich laugh]
PF Get in here with those Oracle contracts, we’re ready!
RZ Come on in. Postlight.com, there’s some really great case studies. More to Paul’s point. We’d love to innovate, think through problems and then design and build. Check us out at postlight.com and if you got questions, we’d love to talk email@example.com, free of charge. Your first consultation is free! How’s that, Paul?
PF I mean, look, it’s always a range. It’s always—the answer. There’s a lot of things that depend, we’ll give you your options. You’re not simply coming to us and we’re going to tell you why Postlight solves every problem.
RZ Reach out. Hello@postlight.com. Have a lovely week!
PF Alright friends, let’s get back to work. [music ramps up, plays alone for 3 seconds, ends]