NEW YORK: Microsoft technical evangelist Robert Scoble has left the company to assume the position of VP of media development at startup Podtech.net.
Although Scoble did not work in Microsoft’s PR department, he was the human face of the corporation to many bloggers and other tech enthusiasts. His blog, Scobleizer, is consistently ranked as in the top 20 most popular, based on links, by Technorati. Save for some detractors, Scoble was often given credit for being brutally honest about the company’s shortcomings as much as he was for praising its wares.
Robert Scoble was not even the one to publicly announce the employment change. Andy Plesser, CEO of Plesser Holland Associates (PRWeek's PR agency), broke the story on Beet.TV, his video blogging site, from the Vloggercon event in San Francisco.
“He has been the best known, most controversial, and, perhaps, most passionate of over 2500 Microsoft bloggers,” said Shel Israel, a PR consultant and Scoble’s co-author for the well-received Naked Conversations book. “He also contributed to the humanization significantly through his day job as the [video blog] Channel 9 guy, letting more than three million people every month see the key technology players at Microsoft and to understand that these were real people trying very hard to provide great products and services to Microsoft customers, particularly developers.”
The company released this statement: “We are sorry to see Robert leave Microsoft. Robert made a strong contribution through Channel 9 and his blog during an important time for the company. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Microsoft and Scoble were not giving interviews, according to Microsoft agency Waggener-Edstrom, but Scoble discussed his departure on his blog. Although some bloggers like Tom Foremski and Nicholas Carr speculated the decision stemmed from Microsoft culture and a low salary, both the former Microsoft employee and Israel had nothing but kind words to say about the company.
“It would really make good blog and print copy if we could see some real animosity in this separation,” Israel said. “But those of us close to Robert, who have discussed his career and life and Microsoft with him have a very different perception of what has occurred.”
He added: “Microsoft didn’t lose Scoble. Podtech created his dream job and offered it to him at exactly the right time in his life.”
Despite having over 2,500 blogging employees, Scoble’s departure leaves Microsoft without its largest direct megaphone to the tech crowd. Israel believes that while Scoble’s voice is irreplaceable, his position is not.
“Microsoft should do what it has been doing: encourage its employees to blog with intelligence and passion. They can only hope that someone will emerge…,” Israel said.