Let me first get a few things out of the way. I have been a Microsoft shareholder for over 15 years. I still am. I used to work at Microsoft, I still have strong feelings for the company and have many friends that work there. Another disclosure: i have no idea what it’s like to run a public company.
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Last fall, Microsoft increased their dividend by 23% as an attempt to boost shareholder interest. Considering that the company is a profit machine, many shareholders want access to the growing cash position in the company.
I want Microsoft to kick ass again.
I want them to send a signal to the market that they are going to use their cash to build from the inside amazing products and use that cash to acquire game changing technologies and people from the outside.
I remember many years ago, Michael Dell made a historic statement in Apple’s darkest hour that Steve Jobs should return all of the cash and shut Apple down. Thankfully Steve and co rose to occasion and have kicked ass ever since.
Microsoft needs to do the same thing.
-Games. I believe xbox is better than Playstation. Xbox Live and Kinect are category leading experiences but at some point the game console business is going to be challenge to maintain. They need to move to the full web experiences.
-Enterprise. I’ve ditched Outlook years ago and I’m running all of my messaging, contacts and calendar on Google infrastructure. They need to re-invent the enterprise game and fast.
-Social. To my knowledge, Microsoft doesn’t have a great social service except for Xbox Live. I think they need to get that thru acquisition. I just don’t see it happening internally.
-Mobile. Fred shared his thoughts on Windows Phone 7 the other day. I tried one out a few months ago and had a similar experience. Right now it feels too little too late. Apple is winning in the user experience and app category. And Google has amazing apps of their own that make Android awesome (maps, google voice, gmail, googles etc). Microsoft needs to invest and acquire awesome apps that work magically on Windows Phone 7. Many folks have been calling for MS to buy RIMM for years now. I think it’s too late and RIM feels like an ice cube in the sun. It would be much more intersting if MS acquired Skype.
I’m sure there are plenty of shareholders that would be pissed if MS dropped the dividend. I say good riddance. Let’s have everyone on the cap table with the same vision of a strong, aggressive, audacious Microsoft.
That’s what I want.