Ruby considering move to Microsoft

I am sorry to see the Sam Ruby is considering a move to Microsoft.  Like anybody of my age in this industry the strategic landscape I have lived in has always been substantially shaped by Microsoft.  They, and that means primarilly Bill Gates and his closest advisers, have played the game extremely well.  Their place in the ecosystem has given them mind boggling power.  They have played those card to their advantage with surprising skill.  Repeatedly I have watched in awe as they have crushed, absorbed, and underminded competitive threats around them.

Of course their scale means they get a very long time to puzzle out how to get that right.  I do not trust Microsoft.  No doubt there many good people there.  Vast pools of good intentions.  But the nature of the company’s role in the market and the fundimental dynamics of what is required for them to maintain that make for repeated disconnects between the goals of the individuals and the outcome that is best for the firm.

Microsoft’s core strategic requires that the commoditized everything around them.  If your a developer or partner of microsoft you upside is capped.  Open standards, and open platforms are fundamentally their greatest competitor.  Strategically they must come into those communities to assure that they remain tame.  This is often something their individual representatives in those communities do not fully appreciate.  At least until it is too late.

Sam has done a just beautiful job playing a role of that kind that coming out of IBM and into the Apache Software Foundation.  He succeeded in part because he is amazingly talented at the art demanded in that role back on the home front.  He succeeded because he was extremely clear in his own head about where he was trying to go.  He succeeded because he had a thirst to puzzle out what was new about open source that IBM didn’t know.  But importantly, what he was trying to do was fundimentally in synch with IBM’s strategic best interests.  IBM’s IP portfolio is well served by an open vibrant diverse industry.  IBM isn’t threatened by the successes of others, since it always has the option of taxing those others via it’s IP rights.  IBM other business, services, ought to love open source (of course open source is only part of puzzle of making a vibrant industry).

I wish him luck, but it makes me sad.

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