You might have missed that Microsoft's stock has been in a freefall lately.
My friends have been asking me "why doesn't Wall Street believe Steve Ballmer?"
That's an easy one. Cause he didn't convince the grass roots influence networks first. Why have Google and Apple done so well in the last three years? Cause the grassroots loves them. That's the powerroot of the industry. Ideas here don't come from the big influencers and move down. No, they start on the street and move up. Anyone miss how Google got big? Not by throwing a press conference.
Ballmer should not listen to his PR team and instead should live the blogging way.
Did you miss that I turned into an international news story that has gotten more attention than everything Microsoft announced at its big TechED conference this week?
How did I do that?
I talked with the grassroots FIRST. Against the advice, by the way, of a lot of PR people (they wanted me to break the news to Walt Mossberg or someone "important" first — they thought that's how I was going to get the biggest story going).
They all are wrong. I almost bought into it too. In fact, I did. On Saturday I talked with maybe 20 people and said "can you wait until Tuesday to talk about it?" I wanted to give the story to the Wall Street Journal too. Not to mention I wanted to tell my coworkers before the story hit. I didn't get that chance and I'm lucky, in hindsight, that I didn't. Because the story started on the grassroots first it got far far bigger than if I broke it on a big newspaper.
It's a lesson I'll never forget again.
Journalists need sources for stories and they need to convince editors that stories are important to pay attention to.
What was going on this weekend? Journalists were emailing TechMeme around to their editors and saying "something important is going on here." How do I know that? Cause when the journalists were calling that's what they told me. They saw a blog mob and that helped them sell the story.
Analysts, on the other hand, also watch what grass roots are saying. The wisdom of crowds. It drives a lot of buying decisions. Why is Google's stock higher than Yahoo's? (Yahoo does pretty much the same thing as Google and has more users, after all). Because the influential users all use Google. When I ask my audiences which email or search system they use they predominantly answer Google. That turns into hype. Hype sells advertising (advertisers want to reach the influential users, not the clueless ones). That turns into profits and profits turns into stock price.
So, why is Microsoft stock price in freefall? Cause Steve Ballmer didn't come to the grassroots and convince him that Microsoft's business strategy makes sense. We still haven't explained, for instance, to the grassroots why Windows Vista matters. Or why spending $2 billion on server farms will make any sense to them. Or why the Xbox is going to be profitable.
What would I do? I would show up unannounced at three conferences. BloggerCon, Gnomedex, and BlogHer. No PR team there to spin. No lawyers. No video crew. And focus on answering those three things. Windows Vista. Investments in server farms. Xbox profitability.
Just show up and let people on the grassroots get to know you and answer those questions over and over and over again (on Sunday I did about 40 interviews with everyone who was at VLoggerCon, no matter how small the audience they had). Answer their questions. Even the harshest stupidest Slashdot style questions.
Do that and you'll see the stock price go back up.
Oh, and by the way, I'm not selling my Microsoft stock. Why? Cause I already know the answers to those three questions and I'm quite confident in the future of Microsoft. It's just that I'm not the CEO of Microsoft.
Show up at Gnomedex, answer those three questions to anyone who'll ask, and you'll see the power of the Grassroots.
I learned the power on Sunday. Thanks to VLoggerCon for teaching me that. Oh, and I'm being talked about on GeekBrief.TV today (Cali was launching a campaign to replace Ballmer with me — hey, Steve, I'd give her your first interview!)