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Microsoft's Startup Whisperer enters Google Chocolate Factory

Redmondian evangelism meets iPhone envy

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Google has snapped up Microsoft's former Startup Whisperer, just two weeks after Redmond dumped him on the street.

Until the first week in November, when he was among the roughly 800 employees jettisoned in Microsoft's latest round of layoffs, Don Dodge was the director of business development for Redmond's emerging business team. A veteran of countless startups - including AltaVista, Napster, and Ray Ozzie's Groove Networks - he was a kind of über-evangelist to outside startups and developers.

His departure was met with howls of complaint from the web's startup-obsessives, and just 90 minutes after the pink slip reached his palm, he received a phone call from Google vp of engineering Vic Gundotra, another former Microsoftee.

By last week, Dodge had agreed to join Google in a role much like the one he filled at Microsoft. He confirmed the new gig this morning with post to his personal blog, proving that his gift for evangelism is easily transferred from company to company.

Referring to Gundotra's rapid-fire phone call, Dodge said: "That fast decisive action was refreshing, and such a contrast to the slow, secretive, bureaucracy at Microsoft. That speed and decisiveness also reflects different approaches to hiring great people, building great products and serving customers well."

He did have some good things to say about the Redmond Borg - but even here, there was a hint of the backhand. "Thanks to all the fine people at Microsoft," Dodge wrote. "It was an interesting ride. Four years, 11 months, and 20 days, and I enjoyed every one of them. Well, except for the last few days, that was not fun at all. I hope I played a small part in making Microsoft more approachable, friendly to startups, and easier to work with. Microsoft is a different company, a better company, than when I joined 5 years ago."

In preparation for his new job inside the Mountain View Chocolate Factory, Dodge has already shed countless Redmondian burdens, losing Outlook for Gmail, Office for Google Docs, Windows Mobile for Android, and, yes, IE for Chrome. And he couldn't help but take a Google-trumpeting swipe at each one of his ex-employer's packages.

"Hey, isn’t this November of 2009? Why Word 2007?" he wrote. "One of the nice things about Google Docs, and all web based products, is that they can be updated continuously with no interruption to you. New features and bug fixes happen automatically in the background so you always have the latest technology...not the 2007 version."

But our favorite bit is when he says that Microsoft wouldn't let him love the Jesus phone: "OK, now that I am no longer with Microsoft, I can admit I had iPhone envy. My Windows Mobile 'Smartphone' didn’t measure up."

Which sounds quite close to the truth. But we can't help but wonder: Now that this Microsoft evangelist has suddenly disowned five years of Microsoft evangelism, shouldn't we apply a certain, well, skepticism to anything he now says about Google? ®

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