From Gates, by Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews, loc 6989-7007:
Microsoft was more like a northwestern Paul Bunyan. “It’s a culture of work,” Cole recalled. “Bill would hate it when the weather got good in Seattle. People would leave early. They weren’t going to put in their twelve hours that day or sixteen hours that day.” But the Pirates and just about everyone else at Apple worked long hours too. “The huge difference at Microsoft was nobody was having fun. People worked hard, all the smart, smart, smart people. But very few people were having any fun. They were grinding out the work.” Bill, Cole observed, cares so much, and his way of motivating of people is through shame and intimidation. And some people are motivated that way. I mean, all of us to a certain extent are motivated by shame and disgust. People lose weight before they go to their high school reunions, and before they have to get into a bathing suit for summer . . . . It is motivating. But it’s not motivating for all people in all situations. And that was in fact the only trick in the bag.
I’m interested in how this leadership style diffused through the tech industry, in many cases being formalised in policy and consolidating as human resources common sense. From loc 7007-7029 of the same book:
It was a culture that came straight from the top. Gates was notorious for prowling the halls on Saturdays and Sundays and calling key people at home, asking “What’s the matter? Why haven’t I seen you around?” But the company was growing so fast that there was little time for training or traditional management. Gates’s rule of sink or swim still applied: You were expected to learn your job and do it. If you didn’t, find something else or take off.
“Ida said it very succinctly at the last meeting: Management cannot force you to work long hours, only YOU can do that,” Charles Simonyi wrote in an April 1985 e-mail. “So why do otherwise intelligent people CHOOSE to come here at night and during the weekend?” Personal convenience, for one thing (if you happened to be a night owl); the bonus, for another. “We do reward outstanding contributions with a bonus. The most straightforward way to make an outstanding contribution is by working longer.” Then there was the clincher. We live in a competitive world in a landscape littered with visible corpses. Do you think our schedules are tight? Too many features to write and test? Our competition will be happy to hear it. . . . If they work day and night and sleep under their desks, we may have to. I, for one, do not want to lose, not just because of pride, but also because it is very unpleasant.