January 04, 2002
Microsoft Employees Are Feeling Lucky
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Microsoft has been a relatively quiet port in the storm of layoffs and other problems striking most other workplaces in the U.S., according to The New York Times.
The computer giant's stock was the best performer in 2001 among the 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones industrial average. The company also has huge amounts of cash on hand, new products that are selling well, and the appearance of being close to settling a major part of its antitrust battle with the federal government and several states.
All of that has created some optimism in Microsoft's hometown of Redmond, Wash. Several company employees, who might once have been tempted to leave for high-tech start-ups, told the Times that they're now grateful to hold what appear to be very steady jobs with the industry giant.
Many Microsoft employees were directly helped by the rebound in stock prices, since they receive stock as a major part of their compensation.
Still, there's not much jubilation in Microsoft's corner of the country - not with corporate neighbor Boeing undergoing major layoffs and many Internet companies struggling, or with Washington State facing one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
As for the rest of the high-tech industry, some wonder whether any rising tide at Microsoft might lift other boats.
"As Microsoft gets better, the market will get better," said Jeff Grant, 27, a Web site administrator in Redmond who has been a contract employee at several local companies over the last five years. He expects to be laid off from his current job next month. Despite that, he's optimistic about finding another job.
"Once Microsoft stock went bad, a lot of other companies seemed to go down too," Grant said. "But I think it would follow that if Microsoft is headed up, eventually the whole tech sector will rise up."
Sam Iredale, 29, a software test engineer, said he also saw reasons for optimism, after a time in which investors grew skittish over investing in the high-tech economy. "I think things went to different extremes," he said. "For a while, it seems they'd put money into just about anything that was a dot-com. They didn't discriminate. A lot of things were clearly overvalued. But now a lot of companies are clearly undervalued, and I think that investors are figuring out that not every tech company is out here on a wing and a prayer, so things are looking up."