ZDNet Asks ‘Where’s Ozzie?’ One Answer: In Knowledge@Wharton

Some ZDNet bloggers appear to be on a quest to get Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie to communicate more. On November 21, Dan Faber asked “Where in the world is Ray Ozzie?.” And now ZDNet’s Microsoft columnist, Mary Jo Foley, observes that Ozzie isn’t currently listed as a keynote presenter at this year’s MIX conference. Foley’s piece concludes with:

Microsoft’s explanation, whenever anyone asks about Ozzie’s whereabouts, is he is busy helping the company figure out its Web strategy. (Ozzie never responds directly himself.)

I realize some companies use executive scarcity to help create demand and mystique. (Textbook example: Former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner.) But isn’t Web 2.0 all about collaboration, networking, blogging? Isn’t Ozzie supposed to be filling Chairman Bill Gates’ Chief Software Architect shoes by serving as Microsoft’s public face to the tech world?

Is there anything to be read into Ozzie’s disappearing act? What’s your take?

Rather than speculating, why not see what Ray Ozzie himself says about this? Earlier this year, Ozzie sat down with Knowledge@Wharton to discuss a wide range of topics, including why he hasn’t been more visible in the press:

Knowledge@Wharton:  You’ve come under some criticism for not being more out in front, stating a clear and concrete vision of where Microsoft is going. Why haven’t we heard more details from you about [Microsoft’s strategic] roadmap?

Ozzie:  Very good question. There are always trade-offs. This is a style thing — I tend to like to back up things that I talk about with concrete deliverables. Otherwise, you state things and if they are too far out, it just doesn’t resonate well. It’s perceived as trying to over-hype something that you aren’t delivering.

I have been trying to work internally on some fairly interesting things and we will talk about them as they become more real. We’re out there talking about what the most important things are to deliver for the company today, which are Office and Vista. Those are the primary things we are talking about right now.

Are we ready right now to talk about how to change the game in search or how Microsoft might weave services into our various offerings? No, we’re not. But we will.

The complete interview with Ozzie is here:

2007 April 04
The Man Who Would Change Microsoft: Ray Ozzie’s Vision for Connected Software

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