The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) interviewed Microsoft Corporate Vice President Dan’l Lewin.
He’s the executive in charge of strategic and emerging business development at the software giant.
He was on the hot seat Tuesday morning at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley headquarters, where dozens of start-ups from all over the world were debuting at Launch: Silicon Valley, sponsored by the non-profit Silicon Valley Association for Startup Entrepreneurs (SVASE).
Questions touched on a broad range of topics, including high-profile acquisitions, the future of Microsoft’s CEO, and the Redmond, Wash.-based company’s views on Silicon Valley.
SVASE Chief Executive Chris Gill quizzed Lewin. Here’s an edited transcript:
Q. What is Microsoft going to do with Skype?
A. It’s pending approval, but I think it’s a great opportunity to involve Skype and the technology and the customer base into the broader capabilities of the network over time…I don’t think we’re entering a bubble phase. It’s the rapid scale-out phase, a framework normalizing around web, ubiquitous connectivity. I used to ask people 10 years ago, where’s the edge of the network? Maybe at the desktop? There were no smart phones…but now there’s this low-level horizontal capability that everyone wants to use for interesting new things and communications.
Q. That’s a very long answer for saying nothing (laughter). Can you comment on people, most recently [Stanford University lecturer and former entrepreneur] Steve Blank, saying that Microsoft is the living dead?
A. Microsoft is far from the living dead. The company has an incredible framework of assets, not the least of which is its existing business…Fifteen years ago, there was no server and tools business inside of Microsoft — there was a server offering. Now servers and tools is a $15 billion business. There are 15 billion-dollar software companies inside this company and they’re growing. It’s like saying the mainframe is dead for IBM – it’s still making money.
You’re seeing us invest heavily in new business — the Xbox, big screens and TV. We missed a cycle on mobile — that’s glaringly obvious — but it’s coming back. People turn over mobile devices frequently, so there’s an opportunity for us to be in that game as well.
I think there are areas where we could be executing better, but there are few companies on the planet that grow in terms of general profits and growth revenue the way this company has been growing for the last 10 years. I think there are areas where we’re executing quite well…the Xbox, Azure, cloud services, and Windows 8.
(they even asked about removing Steve Ballmer LOL)