Don Dodge was a happily loyal Microsoft employee until last week, when he got laid off with a group of around 5,000 other staffers in a broad reduction of staff. The well-known "Ambassador to Startups" was quickly poached by Google (within 90 minutes no less), where he is now set to work.

The move highlights the differences in culture at the two companies. And Dodge's fairwell note serves another purpose for Google, as an ad for how loyal Microsoft devotees can switch to Google products.

Google has been steadily working to develop free software and products that compete Microsoft's core business of paid services.

Dodge's dismissal from Microsoft was generally panned, as he presented an innovative face for Microsoft and spent a good deal of time interacting with the tech community. Dodge posted a note on the job switch to his personal blog today and notes that the first thing he's did was abandon Microsoft Office products for Google:

"I made the switch to Gmail last week and it has been awesome! Outlook has been an old familiar friend for years, but it was getting kind of tired. Gmail is new, fast, web based, and has all the features I need. I especially like the way it threads conversations making it easy to keep everything in context. And of course the search capabilities are world class. One other subtle thing…no spam. I never realized how much corporate spam invaded my Microsoft inbox."

Of course, it makes sense that Dodge would sing the praises of his new employer. And his criticisms of the software giant — that it laid off 5,000 people while maintaining "$37 billion in cash and huge profits" — could be written off as the ramblings of a disgruntled former employee. 

But Dodge, aside from his skills that Google seems eager to tap into, is the quintessential consumer that Google wants to poach from Microsoft. And he's written the pitch for why others should make the switch as well:

"Vic Gundotra at Google was the first one to contact me with an opportunity…90 minutes after the news of the layoff hit. That fast decisive action was refreshing, and such a contrast to the slow, secretive, bureaucracy at Microsoft. That speed and decisiveness also reflects different approaches to hiring great people, building great products and serving customers well."

Of course, Google doesn't really need help getting people to use Gmail, but old habits die hard, and Microsoft makes more than a little money selling its Office suite. Google offers many of the same features for the low price of free, but getting people to make the switch isn't easy. Here's Dodge saying why they should do it:

"I have been experimenting with Google Docs and have been able to do everything I did in Microsoft Office. I can’t think of a single feature missing from what I need every day. There may be some edge cases…but I haven’t bumped into any yet."

Of course, Microsoft can't be held accountable for every former employee who wants to spout off about the company. And there is no method to ensure that every employee stays 100% satisfied to avoid losing them to competitors. But this little move by Google's Gundotra was more than just a quick hire, it was a subtly innovative PR move.

Image: Dan Dodge

Meghan Keane

Published 16 November, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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Comments (6)

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Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

This is a good hire for Google for obvious reasons but I think Don's sudden change of heart about Microsoft's products is a little bit hard to believe, and makes him look a little bit bitter. As one commenter on his blog put it, "This instant loyalty switch is a little abhorring."

Particularly questionable: the comment that Dodge has been "able to do everything I did in Microsoft Office" with Google Docs. Now Google Docs is cool but I could never replace Office with it and I don't even use 90% of what Office offers.

All in all, I think Google's hiring of Dodge would have constituted more effective free advertising had Dodge refrained from such a blatant and inauthentic attack on his former employer's products just days after joining Google.

over 8 years ago

Meghan Keane

Meghan Keane, US Editor at Econsultancy

Yeah, I agree that Dodge's language is a bit over the top — his post still sounds like there are sour grapes/his efforts to immediately shill for Google don't come across as entirely sincere. But his tone does not negate the fact that Google needs Microsoft devotees to switch over to their services. And the distinction between the corporate culture at Microsoft (where they axed someone who can do the company a lot of good) versus the culture at Google (where Vic Gundotra had the immediate forethought to pick him up) paints Google in a very good light, and shines well on their products. 

over 8 years ago


Sonia Carter

Hmmm. I'd find it hard to believe this guy hadnt ever tried out the comptetion -  Gmail or Google docs - as part of his employment at Microsoft! So his 'epiphany' sounds a little disingenuous.

over 8 years ago



Chrome is currently the easiest web stranica.Dosta Opener is good and IE8 64bit.Dali know when someone will be a Google operating system released for download?

about 8 years ago



check out these great free classified ads!

about 8 years ago


Rohit Jain

..of course the search capabilities are world class...

No they are not. It is very surprising but true that Gmail search tool is mediocre at best. Consider what it does not do:

1. Cannot search in email attachments unlike Outlook 2007
2. Cannot search partial strings. Search for Congrat will not find an email message which has word congrtulations in it 4 times
3. Does not highlight matches
4. Cannot do searches by date range or from particular email address

almost 8 years ago

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