An open letter to Satya Nadella, Microsoft's new CEO
Published 09/02/2014 | 02:30
DEAR Satya, hello from Ireland! And congrats on the new gig! We're all big fans over here.
But you know Ireland, right? Clouds and tax breaks? Of course you do. After all, you're the former cloud boss, right? So you know all about Ireland's ideal climate? Five to 18 degrees year-round? Lowest data centre heating and air conditioning bills in Europe?
By now you will probably have received an official note – or maybe even a phone call – from our prime minister, Mr Kenny.
Here's what you need to know: he will pretty much jump to your beat.
For example, when it comes to batting for your interests at an EU level (think data privacy and ecommerce issues), the Irish sovereign is at your service.
Just ask your Facebook counterpart, Sheryl Sandberg, whose private meeting with Mr Kenny at Davos was not just about her like of Guinness. Or Apple's Tim Cook, who dropped in to Cork the other week and found Mr Kenny there with a big smile and open ears.
(For extra gravy, share a stage with Mr Kenny in front of 2,500 tech conference attendees and watch what he promises you: you're in for a treat.)
I'll even bet you could slip him a Windows phone to use (he's a newcomer to smartphones).
In return, he's likely to ask one thing: that you move a little more product development our way. Oh, he's delighted with the 1,200-person presence you have here. But his IDA advisers are (accurately) telling him that product developers trump support staff in the hub-enhancement business.
As a cloud guy, you're going to need new products anyway: so why not throw a little coding action Ireland's way? We certainly have the brains. And if you decide you need to bring people in, Mr Kenny's friends make sure to fast-track certain visas.
On a sartorial note, well done on the initial PR makeover. Understated, comfortable, casual was a smart choice. As you hoped, it signalled to developers that you don't have to be a blazer-and-jeans guy to work at Microsoft, while also reassuring corporate types that you're not quite at the hoodie stage.
When you come to Dublin, you'll find that Microsoft's executive dress code is noticeably more formal than peers at Google or Facebook. But you also may be slightly relieved that none of your staff here are church-worshipping the company with branded T-shirts or semi-mandatory shirt pins. Because, as you know, that sort of crypto-cult stuff can start to take a lot of maintenance: it also leaves you wide open to counter-cultural counter-memes. (On the other hand, I know one or two people there who would love it if you allowed them to bring their dogs into work.)
And while we're talking about Dublin, let me say again that you have a pretty strong outfit in Ireland. Furthermore, there's none of that unpleasantness that's starting to seep into the US media about tech titans becoming the semi-evil one per cent. Narratives around elite bus corridors and Kristalnacht-citers? You won't find much of that here. Neither will you find any moaning about tech giants paying little or no tax, like you'll find in Germany (or Britain). No, in Ireland, tech is still hailed as our future.
We're still a little on the floor, you see, without many industrial alternatives: this gives you a strong hand on issues such as corporate tax.
Finally, you'll probably guess that we, the media, are all waiting for a meme from you. After all, your predecessors had a rich vein of form in this area. Bill was the plutocratic Wall Street Nerd. Steve was the flamboyant stage-screamer. What might yours be? A catchphrase? A laugh? A uniform? Running up to a camera with bulging biceps, Hulkster-screaming: 'Whatcha gonna do, Google'?
Whatever it is, congratulations once again on the new gig. And give us a call when you're in Dublin.
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