Great article on how Microsoft has gotten too big and cumbersome to rapidly innovate.
Back at Harvard Business School in 1997, I used to argue with Professor Clayton Christensen, that Microsoft as a software company could always innovate ahead of it’s rivals. I’d just left Microsoft to attend HBS in 1996 and was still under the delusion that Microsoft was and would be the most dominate force in high tech. Professor Christensen, who published had been researching how incumbent leaders get out innovated by their smaller, more nimble rivals and published The Innovator’s Dliemma in 1997, argued that even software companies eventually get buried under the weight of their installed base and desire to protect their existing businesses.
Professor Christensen was right. I was wrong. Really, really wrong. We’re watching this happen at Microsoft, though I thought it couldn’t. I saw it happen at RealNetworks, though on a smaller scale.
Should Internet software companies have a half-life? Should Wall Street demand that after 10 years or 10,000 employees companies break themselves into smaller pieces to succeed or fail? Are all big companies doomed to repeat the same cycle?