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July 06, 2011

Breaking news: FAST folks laid off from Microsoft

Just learned that most of the FAST people we work with here in California and across the country have been laid off by Microsoft, apparently effective immediately. This is the team that was responsible for selling the FAST ESP products - FSIS and FSIA - as well as working with the Microsoft sales teams on Fast Search for SharePoint (FS4SP). Funny, I was just drafting a blog post today on 'the future of FAST' and I'm glad I hadn't finished; I never would have guessed this at all.

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference next week; be interesting to see what they have to say. Stay tuned..



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The FAST field and Microsoft were incompatible from the beginning. FAST sales thrived on being best-of-breed, premium priced for higher value, and calling on customers' business leaders (marketing, internet, tech support, etc.) Not that there's anything wrong with it (as Jerry would say), but the Microsoft machine focuses on maintaining business with IT and avoiding getting fired by whatever "hair on fire" initiative Kevin Turner, Steve Ballmer, or other Microsoft execs have for that fiscal year or quarter.

A large amount of the top FAST sales top performers left over the last year to return to best-of-breed companies. Many of the folks who remained at Microsoft stayed for the end of the fiscal year (start of July) to qualify for their year-end bonuses and were looking forward to getting a RIF package to move on.

When Microsoft acquired FAST, they were strategically scared by Google's rapid growth in the enterprise and acquiring FAST was one way to thwart that. Now, however, with Office365 out they have a way to compete directly against Google Apps and they believe that having the FAST code base SharePoint-focused serves the greater good -- especially since they were unable to release the FAST standalone products on the originally intended twelve to eighteen month product cycle.
Spoken as a driven genius, Bill:)

This is sad but not unexpected.

MSFT revealed its cards when it declined to continue cross-platform innovation of ESP. Then the company re-affirmed its position by a rather poor launch of FSIS. And now it finally put the last nail into the coffin.

SharePoint product line will clearly benefit from the acquisition of Fast Search and Transfer, but those who are seeking for a non-SharePoint solution should look elsewhere.

Sorry, but you had to see this one coming...
Yep Anon, so true. I think some of us thought there was another year when last year the powers that be said the Digital Design team had a two year window to get profitable.. and they still may.

Is there any other confirmation of this news? Any word on FAST R&D / technical impact, or just sales?
Well, the FAST sales folks and partner reps who were responsible for the FAST ESP product line (FSIA and FSIS) are gone - 10 of the 12 folks we work with all the time are gone.
There's no question that FAST Search for SharePoint (FS4SP) is still active - and I'd expect that FSIS and FSIA products are still available and fully supported.
There do not seem to be wholesale cuts in R&D and support. It seems to be a sales force realignment.

Yes, by Jove! FS4SP should stay around, and all that tech will find its way into SharePoint.. but still sorry to see FAST.. and my friends.. lose these good people.

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