Philip Su is a software engineer at Facebook who spent 12 years working at Microsoft. Now, he’s put out a scathing post about Bing, or more specifically, the people behind Bing.
“I was reminded of Bing today during a depressing conversation with a former coworker who soldiers on, nobly, in That Great Darkness,” he writes in the intro. “Though it’s been several years since I left, I still remember Bing as the time when I most despaired for Microsoft’s future.”
“Bing is a madhouse. The inmates are running the asylum, and it’s rotten to the core…” the post continues. “And I’m not talking about the product.” He then adds, “Bing is solid. But it doesn’t matter because nobody cares.”
He goes on to discuss company politics and how the Bing team is “filled with overly politicized people pursuing Machiavellian schemes to forward their career ambitions.”
And he does indeed go on about it.
In a status update on Facebook, Su said, “This blog post about Bing took me three years to write. Though I felt it needed to be said, loyalty to my past coworkers prevented me from speaking openly. Enough of those former coworkers have now been crushed by The Machine that I must speak out.”
While the whole thing is just the viewpoint of one engineer, he is getting a lot of feedback on the post. Interestingly, some of that feedback seems to reflect the sentiments expressed by Su. In a Facebook comment, Maria Sommerfield writes:
I called my girlfriend who works for MSFT in a different department to find out why exactly my husband could be so miserable at work at one point. OMG, Maria he is at Bing, she said. I hear it is a nightmare over there. Fortunately he is over at Google now. Being the nice guy he is he has never once said anything bad about those Bing drama, but I always got my man’s back and I remember. All’s well that ends well and he is loving working for Google.
Ramesh Vyaghrapuri commented:
I left the company way too late. All the way back in 2003, there were horror stories from all over the company (so I don’t think Bing was *special*) but most employees preferred complaining behind doors and letting it be.
The lack of transparency *is* the worst thing that can happen to a company. Now, there was no transparency even in 1997 and things worked fine. But lack of transparency makes it a *stable* setup that a few rotten apples can’t destroy all the good work done by people before them.
Microsoft employee Rangan Majumder wrote:
Very candid post, Philip. Most of the folks you speak of are gone from Bing for at least a year. Bing is not perfect but honestly it is the least politically driven team I’ve worked on in Microsoft. Bing has been about metrics and bottoms up decision making from the beginning. In fact, it has to be, otherwise it doesn’t scale and won’t succeed; doing the right thing for the user always takes first priority. Sure there are people who are ambitious career wise, but those who don’t do the right thing for the user don’t last. I know I have ex-coworkers from Bing who work in Facebook Seattle now with you; did they really feel this way about the team?
In the comments of the post itself, an anonymous poster writes, “Thanks for writing this. Along with most people in my group at Microsoft, I’m looking for a job. I can’t wait to write my version of this story. It’s not just Bing. The Microsoft I loved is gone.”
It’s worth noting that as Su is a software engineer at Facebook, Bing and Facebook have a pretty strong partnership.
Last week, Bing launched its version of personalized search in “Adaptive Search”. Watch our recent interview with Bing’s search director Stefan Weitz here.