When I announced my departure from Microsoft, LiveSide.net observed that I wasn’t alone in my decision to make a change, nor in my timing. LiveSide noted a few other Microsofties exiting in late September/early October, as did Mary Jo Foley in her ZDNet column. Both articles were professional and well-written and stayed away from speculation, but comments from the peanut gallery raised the question of whether this marked a trend, an indication of problems within Microsoft, a harbinger of Microsoft’s imminent demise.
As to the timing of these individual exits, there’s a simple and highly likely explanation: Microsoft annual performance reviews are done each year in August. Any performance bonuses that result from those reviews are paid out in September. If an employee is thinking about making a change in late summer, there’s a financial incentive to stay put until after review season.
Perhaps some left because they didn’t like their review. Perhaps some felt their bonus should have been bigger. Or, as in my case, perhaps an attractive opportunity presented itself and it only made good sense to make the transition after the bonus payout.
Simple math. No conspiracies.