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A 23-year-old butterfly

Much can be learnt from the company's economic plan from pre-Internet days, in more ways than one, because it was the precursor of its present success, but also because it will allow it to enter the 21st century confidently : the software which currently earns it a turnover of 12 billion dollars will be a mere springboard for its service and electronic commerce activities, which will increase the company's turnover tenfold in less than ten years.

A fast, flexible and helpful butterfly
Microsoft's secrets can be summed up in three words : speed, flexibility and service. Its new type of working method is what underpins the company, which has managed to retain its reactivity, its sense of innovation and customer contact, progressing from 500 employees in 1985 to over 30,000 today. Firstly, to avoid the atavism often rife in large businesses, the hierarchical pyramid is as flat as possible, and the employees work in small teams of a dozen people for a period of a few months, afterwards moving to another branch. Microsoft counts on its talent by offering share options to its most talented individuals, which they can resell after four years.

A methodical butterfly
The systematic exploration of every opportunity allows Microsoft to stay at the forefront of innovation : its decision makers listen to all the employees who want to contact them (notably via e-mail), no matter what their position in the firm, and budgets can be made available very quickly. In spite of everything, when it slips behind technologically, it can buy up and pay cash, thanks to substantial resources. It was also by means of buyouts that Microsoft was able to block certain markets, such as that of the online encyclopaedia Encarta. Microsoft's financial muscle also allows it to invest at the prime moments and overtake its competitors : rapid mobility of capital is another key factor in the success of the digital company. Finally, Microsoft is decentralised, both in terms of the development of its products (of which a large part is manufactured in India) and in their marketing, which is half its strength. Not only is every product translated but also localised (ie adapted to fit its export markets).


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If you enjoyed this site, we obviously share values: we have written it in 1999 !

We haven't updated it online as the vision still is more and more relevant: the more the internet matures, the closer it gets to our vision.

We still believe in innovation, creativity, rigour and results control.

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Raphael Richard, founder

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