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Microsoft Ousts IE Mobile Manager For Revealing Nokia Phone Details 158

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the don't-drink-and-tweet dept.
suraj.sun writes with an article in CNet concerning the axing of a Microsoft employee for revealing a few too many details about the upcoming Nokia Windows Phone. From the article: "...Joe Marini, who worked as a Seattle-based principal program manager on the Windows Phone team, tweeted: 'I just got a chance to try out one of the slickest looking #Nokia phones I have ever seen. Soon, you will too!' The tweet contained a Windows Phone 7 hashtag, #WP7. Marini sent subsequent tweets about the device, including one that rated it an '8' and another that said 'the camera was good, but I didn't have optimal lighting.' ... Marini stepped down after being informed that he would be let go for violating Microsoft's social-media and blogging policy (PDF). "
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Microsoft Ousts IE Mobile Manager For Revealing Nokia Phone Details

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  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot&hackish,org> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @09:44AM (#37467522)

    It's not even particularly new for companies to be super paranoid about "leaks", and to interpret what constitutes a leak very broadly. Apple is probably more paranoid, for example, and Apple employees tend to just avoid Tweeting anything Apple-related for that reason.

    I do agree that this was stupid, unless there's something more to the story; it doesn't appear that he actually leaked anything that could plausibly be considered secret, and certainly not any interesting secrets.

    I also like the now-self-referential part of the policy that recommends employees think, before they take an action online:

    How would it look on Slashdot or on the front page of the New York Times?

    • by Tsingi (870990)

      it doesn't appear that he actually leaked anything that could plausibly be considered secret, and certainly not any interesting secrets

      He referred to the phone as an 8. 8 is not 10. Highly reprehensible behavior.

      • IMHO it's only a way to push the still non existent nokia winphone to tech headlines. The guy is an useful idiot or part of the plan from the start.

    • by cgenman (325138)

      Don't forget though, this wasn't a MS employee leaking an MS secret. This was a MS employee leaking a Nokia secret. They probably had to fire the guy to help maintain the good working relationship between the two companies.

    • by bonch (38532)

      I do agree that this was stupid, unless there's something more to the story; it doesn't appear that he actually leaked anything that could plausibly be considered secret, and certainly not any interesting secrets.

      It doesn't matter how much was revealed. He violated company policy and discussed an unreleased product. Microsoft might have budgeted millions of dollars in advertising to coincide with an official announcement, or the phone might get cancelled before release, or perhaps the Osborne effect could i

      • by idontgno (624372)

        It doesn't matter how much was revealed. He violated company policy and discussed an unreleased product. Microsoft might have budgeted millions of dollars in advertising to coincide with an official announcement

        That was my initial thought. He got canned for poaching in Marketing's forest. Never mind the other reasons you cite; those, while potentially valid, are based on rational concerns and consideration for the uncertainty of the future, the kinds of things you realistically can't expect in corporate l

        • I'm still puzzled why Microsoft+Nokia still pisses people off.

          It doesn't, it makes them go "RIP Nokia" and go buy a Android or Iphone.

    • by Zebedeu (739988)

      My guess is that if he was commenting in an unreleased HTC or Samsung model, it'd have been a non-issue.

      But Nokia is MS's dark horse, in which they're betting everything. Those managers are pretty nervous right now.

  • Don’t post anything marked “Confidential,” “Proprietary,” or “Privileged” or material from any internal corporate emails, web pages or documents (including these FAQs).

    So... who posted the FAQs?

  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @09:53AM (#37467672) Journal

    From the Blogging FAQ:

    How would it look on Slashdot or on the front page of the New York Times?

    Microsoft considers Slashdot to be on the same level as the New York Times! The Ironic thing is the original tweet did not make slashdot. The reaction from Microsoft did.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      From the Blogging FAQ:

      How would it look on Slashdot or on the front page of the New York Times?

      Microsoft considers Slashdot to be on the same level as the New York Times!

      Ouch! That's harsh. I know Slashdot has some issues, but it's not that bad.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      From the Blogging FAQ:

      How would it look on Slashdot or on the front page of the New York Times?

      Microsoft considers Slashdot to be on the same level as the New York Times! The Ironic thing is the original tweet did not make slashdot. The reaction from Microsoft did.

      Yeah, we know Microsoft hates Slashdot.

      But comparing Slashdot to the New York Times? That's low. Some things on Slashdot are well-researched, unbiased, and accurate.

    • by Manip (656104)
      /. is on the same level in terms of its importance to Microsoft's business. Tons of technical people read /. including Network Admin, Programmers, and just your local technical handy-man. We are who most non-technical people get their recommendations and knowledge from. If we say something bad about Microsoft then the people we influence will listen.

      That is why Vista failed. The technical people said it was bad so it was bad. That's why Microsoft has gone to such pains with Windows 7 and Windows 8 to ke
      • If we say something bad about Microsoft then the people we influence will listen.

        If this were true there would be no Microsoft, judging from the way they're perceived around here.

      • by bonch (38532)

        /. is on the same level in terms of its importance to Microsoft's business. Tons of technical people read /. including Network Admin, Programmers, and just your local technical handy-man.

        You're delusional. Slashdot's traffic has been diminishing for many years as most of the readership fled to Reddit, Digg, and Hacker News. It's not at all that important to Microsoft's business what Slashdot thinks; they're just citing Slashdot as an extreme example because Slashdot hates Microsoft and will post anything ne

    • by McGruber (1417641)

      Microsoft considers Slashdot to be on the same level as the New York Times!

      I've never seen a Microsoft ad on the NYTimes website.

      I wish I could say the same about /.

    • by spongman (182339)

      The Ironic thing is the original tweet did not make slashdot. The reaction from Microsoft did.

      Which goes to show that Slashdot is more interested in corporate scandal than actual technology.

    • by mgblst (80109)

      I may eat an orange or a steak. That does not mean I am deluded enough to think they are on the same level. Wow, how such stupidity got modded up to 4, while this comment stays at 1 is ridiculous.

  • by Bucc5062 (856482) <<bucc5062> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @09:57AM (#37467714)

    I read through most of the policy and given the nature of his tweets, it seems a reach to fire the guy.

    Can I disclose confidential information when blogging? ...
    Most importantly, to preserve Microsoft’s rights to protect its innovations through
    patents, do not disclose or describe any new features, functionalities, or
    innovations that have not been publicly disclosed or released without first
    checking with your business unit management or your LCA patent contact ...

    This section mentions not revealing new features, but from what was broadcast, he did not reveal anything specific nor anything that was not already basically understood. I could see getting a reprimand, held back from promotion type of punishment, but to just say "bugger off" for making positive comments about a MS product? ULM is not weird, their stupid. This could have been turned into a marketing scoop, getting the lemmings talking about it and perhaps now wanting to try it out. Since we don't know much about the man as an employee, perhaps he was horrible as a manager and they just needed a reason to boot his butt out. My sense, they just took what could have been both a teaching moment for employees and a marketing bonazza into more negative PR for an already tarnished image.

    Bad form Microsoft, bad form.

    • Microsoft had not yet publicly disclosed their sub-optimal lighting "feature" for the camera. In all seriousness though your pointing out a single question on the policy (the most severe one) and saying he didn't violate anything because he didn't violate that one. Personally, I'd want to fire any employee who decided they thought they could unilaterally do PR for un-released joint-company products and publicly rate the product as a low B (8/10) and described features as sub-optimal.

      How would any of us fe

      • by Bucc5062 (856482)

        How would any of us feel if our company's PR managers decided to come down and unilaterally make amateur and bug riddled commits to our projects code repositories and then release it? You'd probably want them fired too.

        No, I would not fire them for a first offense. I'd figure out why they did what they did, I take steps to correct the behavior, and I'd verify the effort by random checks for a while. This manager made a mistake. he made an honest comment, for fucks sake it may be that the guy was proud of the product and in the moment, he had a brain fart. What did his tweets cost the company? Will we really know? What Microsoft lost, depending on his length of service, is a valuable resource that will cost them more

      • Sure, fire the guy for publishing without involving the Ministry of Spin, but at least do it for the right reasons. He didn't describe any part of the phone as sub-optimal. He described the lighting as sub-optimal and praised the camera: ''the camera was good, but I didn't have optimal lighting." The lighting is not a feature of the phone no matter how much Microsoft might like to embrace and extinguish the Sun ;)

  • Just Microsoft's latest attempt to imitate Apple. In this case we're talking about marketing: build excitement about a new product no one has seen by creating controversy with a "leak" and a possible firing. Only Apple did it with more style, as you'd expect, leaving a disguised iPhone 4 prototype in a bar. I guess it's cheaper, cleaner, and more AstroTurf-like (in the 90s MS paid a bunch of economics professors to form a group and write letters saying the antitrust trial was bad for the economy?) to have o
    • by Tsingi (870990)

      . . . I wonder how large his severence package was, or if he was already planning on leaving.

      He'll probably try to get a job working for Google, and get two paychecks.

    • by spongman (182339)

      If Microsoft were pretending to be Apple, it's blogging policy would read:

              YOU'RE FIRED!

      • If Microsoft were pretending to be Vince McMahon, it's blogging policy would read:

                YOU'RE FIRED!

        ftfy

    • by bonch (38532)

      What an incredibly dumb and baseless post.

  • Now they have more publicity for their upcoming phone. Well played.
  • It's purely speculation, but one would think that Microsoft would simply reprimand its employee in these circumstances. However, Nokia and Microsoft undoubtedly have a confidentiality agreement -- to try desperately to protect Nokia's existing handset sales -- and perhaps Nokia insisted on Marini's scalp. Few if any people like working in a "police state" environment, though. I wonder how this firing will affect the Windows Phone development team's morale.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @10:12AM (#37467878)

    ok, I work there, so this is firsthand information. In the last 4 months it has been beat into us NOT to tweet/talk/post/facebook anything about anything not yet released. It all started around the MGX leaks of the past, feeding into the WP7 announcements, and the recent Win8 announcements. We are not to even tweet anything that has been recently released. (Win8). An entirely new program has been developed around the new social medis policies, and people are going to the HR training for it. There is no way you can miss all of the warnings and decrees from on high about this. Sorry, a very important rule was broken. He is being made the example. Sucks, but don't break important rules.

  • This is possibly the most boring story slashdot has ever posted.

    • by Nitage (1010087)
      Most boring story ever?It's not even the most boring story today. Gears of War 3 released is - derivative sequel of derivative sequel of original that fails to be anything more than just another FPS with nothing to distinguish it from any other example in a crowded genre.
  • Most likely, there are unseen contracts between Nokia and Microsoft that forbid any mention of new products before release. Such things have happened before when the iPhone was first released - an AT&T manager was let go for saying that it was "great."

  • Microsoft has been burned too many times in the past when there are "unauthorized" disclosures about company directions, plans, features, etc.

    Suppose we talk about a feature or capability that ends up not shipping? That erodes enthusiasm for the product, it ruins customer relationships, it hurts the bottom line of partners and competitors alike.

    There are other aspects of this, like marketing/advertising people who, say what you will about them, try to figure out how to manage information disclosures in suc

  • is it something spectacular or the opposite. From a company which released beta's like handing our Halloween candy they sure seem to have move to the paranoid side.

    LoB
  • This guy was an insider and revealed information that was not public knowledge. You don't have to trade on insider information to be charged under insider trading laws and the information that you leaks does not have to belong to your employer. If you leak information about a client, supplier or business partner you can be charged with insider trading. The SEC could also potentially fine MSFT for the actions of this employee.

    Rumours and leaks might be "popular" but improperly disclosing non-public informati

    • by spongman (182339)

      The SEC could also potentially fine MSFT for the actions of this employee.

      i'm not sure the SEC would care since the information was made public. the SEC cares if information exits the company but does not enter the public domain.

      • The SEC could also potentially fine MSFT for the actions of this employee.

        i'm not sure the SEC would care since the information was made public. the SEC cares if information exits the company but does not enter the public domain.

        The information was not made public, it was leaked by an unauthorized person. Making something public would involve an official press release. Acting on inside information would require the insider waiting for not only for the press release to go out but allowing enough time for the public to absorb the information to avoid insider trading.

        Say that you work for a company and you know about a new product or initiative. As an insider, you would not be allowed to trade on that information until a press release

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