My letter to Steve Ballmer- to which I received a response

Bablionic Note:

In response to my letter (below) or its publication in a Romanian newspaper, I was contacted by a board member of Microsoft, HR VP of Microsoft, and Director of Microsoft Romania. The issue was resolved to my satisfaction.



September 12, 2006

Mr. Steve Ballmer
Chief Executive Officer
Microsoft Corporation

Dear Mr. Ballmer:

I write to you from Bucharest, Romania because I was taken aback today when a junior programmer, Emilian Baragan, came to tell me that he is leaving our company for Microsoft. The surprise is not that this untrustworthy junior developer is leaving our small development company for the opportunities and benefits offered by Microsoft, but that Microsoft’s business plan in Romania is a contradiction. At the end of this letter, I provide a proposal that may solve this conundrum.

On the one hand, Microsoft wants Romanian companies to develop solutions with Microsoft technologies—especially considering that most Europeans prefer cheaper, less-secure open-source solutions. I assume that Microsoft wants companies to pay for MSDN development licenses and help Microsoft dominate the market through strong solutions developed by small and medium-size companies that develop with Microsoft technologies.

On the other hand, Microsoft has opened a development center in Romania and you need to aggressively recruit the programmers that know a little or a lot about Microsoft technologies.

Those same programmers must come from the companies that currently use Microsoft technologies in their development process. Those same companies (such as our company) pay for very expensive Microsoft development and software licenses—not to mention the cost of training and recruiting.

This year, my Romanian company spent about 90,000 Euro on MSDN Team Suite Licenses. Attached are receipts in evidence of my stated expenses. Some of these licenses are currently unused thanks to Microsoft’s recruitment efforts. I feel that I have taken great risks and made significant investments over the past four years to move towards a Microsoft partnership and now comes this apparent slap in the face.

Understand that most of my local competitors use Russian-source cracked copies of your development and office products—companies with revenues of millions of Euros. In fact, I have tried and failed to get your Romanian office interested in joining me to solve this problem. Obviously, it is in my interest to reduce my competitors who are competing against me by illegal and unethical means. But, I once believed, it was also in Microsoft’s interest to set examples in Romania with some pretty big players.

My questions to Microsoft, therefore, are as follows:

Why should our company (or any Romanian company) develop with Microsoft technologies…

1. When using Microsoft technologies only makes us an uncompensated training ground for programmers that Microsoft will ultimately recruit from our company?

2. When Microsoft technologies are considerably more costly than open source development tools in a highly cost-conscious European market?

3. When major Romanian companies (known to Microsoft Romania) use pirated Microsoft development and office products without ANY fear of reprisal from Microsoft?

I believe that Microsoft and HALO can resolve this problem.

I propose the following:

1. For those companies in Romania holding over five MSDN Team Suite licenses, holding licenses for all other Microsoft products used by that company and having developed products with Microsoft technologies for two or more years, Microsoft Romania will assist such companies in achieving Microsoft partnership as a step to overcome the current gate keeper mentality of corrupted Microsoft agents.

2. Microsoft will make an active effort to not recruit IT and design personnel from their partners for a period of five years. In other words, Microsoft HR will be responsible to specifically review CVs and reject those CVS from IT persons employed by Microsoft partners in Romania.

3. Microsoft will make a significant investment and effort to fight software piracy in Romania—especially the use of unlicensed Microsoft products by major companies operating in Romania. With the cooperation of its partners, I believe that Microsoft can make headway in this regard.


Stan Faryna
HALO Interactive, SRL


About Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna is a member of the IAB European Leadership Council and National Director of the Interactive Advertising Bureau Romania. He is the founder and co-founder of several technology, design and communication companies in the United States and Europe including Faryna & Associates, Inc., Halo Interactive, and others. His political, scholarly, social and technical opinions have appeared in The Chicago Defender, Jurnal National, The Washington Times, Sagar, Saptamana Financiara, Social Justice Review, and other publications.

Mr. Faryna is editor-in-chief of Black and Right (Praeger Press, 1996), a landmark collection of socio-political essays by important American thinkers including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.


Copyright 1996 to 2008 by Stan Faryna.

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