Word on the street is that Microsoft laid-off the last group of Live Meeting sales reps earlier this week. Though I have not seen a formal press release come across the newswire, a few individuals that I am close to from the Live Meeting team have confirmed this to be true. More on Live Meeting
Apparently 50 sales reps were laid off, all of them coming from the Mountain View, CA office. 5 of the 50 sales reps that were considered "top performers" were offered a relocation option to move to Redmond, WA and maintain their employment with Microsoft as part of the customer service and upsell team. All managers were let go and some sort of severence package was offered.
With a sales team that was not generating enough revenue to validate its existence, the only other option for Microsoft is to try to sell Live Meeting strictly over the web or through their channels. They have tried this in the past with little success so we will just have to wait and see what will happen this go around. They continue to lose market share even after spending hundreds of millions of marketing dollars year after year on a product they cannot effectively sell. Lots of money going out, very little coming back in. They have not figured out the formula for success and the product just does not deliver what they say it can. When Microsoft's Annual Report does not clearly state the Live Meeting revenue contribution and makes no mention of customer retention or market share figures, it is clear that the numbers are not something Microsoft is proud of. More on Live Meeting
Yesterday, a colleague of mine spoke with a Wall Street analyst friend of his and their conversation took an interesting turn when the Live Meeting lay-off topic came up. (His firm is a shareholder of WebEx stock.) He was shocked to hear of the lay-off but commented:
"This is huge! This can only mean good things for WebEx. The perception of WebEx has always been that it would only be a matter of time before you guys got swallowed up by Microsoft. We were betting that you guys would weather the storm and come out on top because of your superior suite of products. It took 2 years but looks like we were right."
The conversation led to "What will they do? How will they sell Live Meeting? Will they just scrap the product as a whole? Are they more focused on fending off Google and keeping their eye on the bulk of their revenue: Windows and Office?" All very good questions that remain unanswered today.