Wow this is a long entry but I think for those who are less technically inclined it ill be a more entertaing read. Well it had been over a year and I had taken a new job in DST. We were attending a local internal conference at the Washington Convention Center. They were set to announce where the first Microsoft Global Sales Summit was going to be held. The executive who was set to announce this was a man named Mike Appe. He was pretty senior in the company though I cannot remember what he did. The final candidates were Cleveland and San Diego. Somehow the former was a joke which Mike played up. The winner was San Diego and the best part was I got to go.
By this time I had been at Microsoft for a little over 2 years and was brimming with confidence. I even had a girlfriend. I still have that girlfriend. I had my corporate Amex and booked my travel and flew down to San Diego. On my plane was Mike Appe and his admin. They worked closely together. We were staying out at the Grand Coronado. I got there late and checked in and went outside to the pool. All my co-workers were pool side wearing bikini’s. This was not what I envisioned a corporate event to be but I was ok with it. As we progress the reader will find this was not a typical corporate event.
Since it was 1994 it was a World Cup year so some folks had come up with the idea of doing a Microsoft Worl Cup and worked with the hotel to use the grounds for a make shift filed. Got some goals and a ref and were good to go. Each subsidiary formed a team including my HQ Sales org. Luckily (in hind site) my ankles were pretty much shot from my spring soccer season so I could not play. The field was well-groomed however it was not flat but kind of a series of little rolling hills. By the end of the week there were so many people on crutches it was rather tragic in a humorous sort of way. In one of HQ Sales games they played Australia. In our defense was Shawn Sanford, a really big muscle-bound dude. He was a pretty good soccer player too. A rough Aussie Sales rep was chasing a ball down in our end when he met Shawn. Bone to bone. I was about 100 feet away but I heard the snap loud and clear. The Aussie spent the rest of the week in the hospital. He won a bunch of awards at the summit. I spoke with him years later. His flight home I found out was very painful.
One night Microsoft rented out the San Diego zoo. A bunch of teams got together and the had organized a Microsoft parade. The people in the parade had costumes and floats. They were all Microsoft employees. Apparently this was a big Microsoft Sales Summit tradition. The big piece was Mike Appe and his admin dressed up as the Adam’s Family, complete with car. We had food at the zoo. They had chicken on a stick!! The second best thing to a Microsoft box lunch. The only bummer was hardly any of the animals were out. Another day they just gave us the day off to go do stuff in San Diego. So a bunch of telesales folks renter a car and went to the beach. Kevin Turner would never approve of a company having fun like this.
The conference itself was very entertaining. The theme was “Heroes”. So every exec who spoke was dressed up as a super hero. The best was Mike Maples, he headed the Office Division, and was a big guy, I estimate an easy 300 lbs. He ws floppy disk man. He wore some black spandex with a helmet made of tin foil. He was covered in floppy disks (remember this is 1994 – 3.5 and 5.25). Standing on the stage the heat must have been incredible. I watched Mike as he slowly melted. He took off the helmet rather quickly as that seemed to be absorbing the heat and he seemed to be getting faint. We also had this new guy, Jim Allchin, present. Jim is a Microsoft legend. He came from Banyan Vines. He spoke first about coming to Microsoft and asking the question, “Why would I work for the company that created DOS?” A fair question. He then stated talking about a new products release, Microsoft BackOffice. BackOffice was Windows NT Advanced Server, SMS Server, SNA Server, and Exchange Server with Client Access Licenses (CAL) – I shall say no more as I am sure some people’s eyes are glazing over. Jim with his intense demeanor and silver hair and piercing Rasputin like eyes frankly scared the shit out of everybody. He was no hero, he was a villan. I saw the Ballmer bounce for the first time. It would get better later. Jeff Raikes was the MC for the event – I think it was his first time in such a high-profile position. It was painful to watch him, but as time would go by he would improve a lot. As my roommate (Brian Copps – the Cowboy) and I went back to the hotel later we were in the elevator with Jim Allchin. It was scary. The last exec to speak was of course Bill gates. Hsi hero was Captain Microsoft. he walked out with just a cape on. He took it off as soon as he got to the podium. When you are Bill you do what you want. I admit I was always a big fan of Bill’s presentations, but only when he talked about his industry perspective. When he did product demo’s of Windows 95 or something else he was boring. The one thing I took from his speech was when he spoke of SQl Server versus Oracle, he felt long trem Oracle was vulnerable. Still waiting on that one. They have proven a very worthy competitor.
The last evening was the big party following the event. It was a black tie formal event. Microsoft had a company come on site to fit all the men for tuxedo’s. I had brought my own suit. The women were all dressed in very elegant and sexy dresses. Before the dinner, we all stood outside and had drinks. I cannot remember who I was talking with but I turned around and right behind me with his back to me was Bill Gates. We were let into the great big tent that had housed us for 5 days. There was a bat mobile onstage and little islands set up around the dinner area in between tables. On these islands were dancers in super hero costumes. They danced around us as we had dinner. It was a surreal kind of experience. We had assigned tables and I don’t remember a single person I sat with or had drinks with. I was just kind of mesmerized by the atmosphere and all the free booze. I went back to my room around midnight as I had an early flight to catch and wanted to get back to my girlfriend. A petite little sweetheart named Jean. I know from this MGX and later a lot of what would be deemed sinful behavior took place. Relationships destroyed, some renewed, some began. The difference between this and college is when you are paid you can afford lawyers. There are far better romance novel writers than myself who can write in detail about this type of stuff. Plus I am a morning person so the stuff that happened late at night I only heard about second-hand.
The thing I remember most about those days is how amateur the whole production was. It was innocent. It sure as hell was comical. In short it was absolutely fantastic.