The following is, verbatim, a letter I received a few minutes ago
from a Microsoft recruiter.
From: "Mike Walters (Search Wizards)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I am a member of the Microsoft Central Sourcing Team. Microsoft is
seeking world class engineers to help create products that help people
and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.
Your name and contact info was brought to my attention as someone who
could potentially be a contributor at Microsoft. I would love an
opportunity to speak with you in detail about your interest in a career
at Microsoft, along with your experience, background and qualifications.
I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have and can
also provide you with any information I have available in regard to the
position s and work life at Microsoft.
Please take a moment to visit My Calendar
<http://www.appointmentquest.com/provider/2010224927> online to
schedule a convenient time for me to contact you. You can learn more
about our vision for the New World of Work at
Additionally, if you are aware of any current or previous colleagues
who might also be interested in opportunities at Microsoft, I would be
happy to speak with them as well. Referrals are always welcome, and
are greatly appreciated.
Thank you in advance and I look forward to an opportunity to speak to
you in the near future
How far will you go?
CST Senior Recruiter
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
I called Mike Walters, who told me my name had been passed to him
by his research team. I indicated to him that I thought somebody
was probably having a little joke at his expense, and promised him an
email reply. Here is my reply in its entirety:
To: "Mike Walters (Search Wizards)" <email@example.com>
I'd thank you for your offer of employment at Microsoft, except
that it indicates that either you or your research team (or both)
couldn't get a clue if it were pounded into you with baseball bats.
What were you going to do with the rest of your afternoon, offer jobs
to Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds? Or were you going to stick to
something easier, like talking Pope Benedict into presiding at a
If you had bothered to do five seconds of background checking, you
might have discovered that I am the guy who responded to Craig
Mundie's "Who are you?" with "I'm your worst nightmare", and that I've
in fact been something pretty close to your company's worst nightmare
since about 1997. You've maybe heard about this "open source" thing?
You get one guess who wrote most of the theory and propaganda for it
and talked IBM and Wall Street and the Fortune 500 into buying in.
But don't think I'm trying to destroy your company. Oh, no; I'd be
just as determined to do in any other proprietary-software monopoly,
and the community I helped found is well on its way to accomplishing
On the day *I* go to work for Microsoft, faint oinking sounds will be
heard from far overhead, the moon will not merely turn blue but
develop polkadots, and hell will freeze over so solid the brimstone
will go superconductive.
But I must thank you for dropping a good joke on my afternoon. On
that hopefully not too far distant day that I piss on Microsoft's
grave, I sincerely hope none of it will splash on you.
Eric S. Raymond
My wife, upon hearing of this, suggested that if something like
this could happen maybe I haven’t made enough trouble for
Microsoft lately, and I’m slipping off their radar. She might have a
UPDATE: For those of you who missed the subtlety (which was a surprising lot of you) I was quite polite to this guy on the phone.
FURTHER UPDATE: I had my serious, constructive converstation with Microsoft last year, when a midlevel exec named Steven Walli took me out to dinner at OSCON 2004 and asked, in so many words, “How can we not be evil?” And I told him — open up your file formats (including Word and multimedia), support open technical standards instead of sabotaging them, license your patents under royalty-free, paperwork-free terms.
I believe Steve Walli went back to his bosses and told them that truth. He is no longer with Microsoft, and what little he’ll say about it hints that they canned him for trying to change their culture.
This didn’t surprise me. Microsoft’s profit margins require a monopoly lock on the market; thus, they’re stuck with being predatory evil bastards. The moment they stop being predatory evil bastards, their stock price will tank and their options pyramid will crash and it will be all over.
That being the case, negotiation is pointless. Microsoft is not reformable. Jeering at offers like this is actually the most constructive thing we can do.