When I went to work for Microsoft, on contract, back in ’95 I wrote video drivers for Direct X. My friend Eric Engstrom did the hiring but it was for a position where I reported to Craig Eisler. As I posted yesterday Eric just sold his most recent company, Wildseed, to AOL. I didn’t know it, but one of the people involved in the sale at AOL was–Craig Eisler. Details here but the interesting portion to me is this:
Even before the deal, the ties between Wildseed and AOL were clear. AOL, based in Dulles, Va., recently appointed Craig Eisler to the position of AOL Wireless general manager and senior vice president.
And if you want to know even more about these characters read the book Renegades of the Empire. It’s a fascinating book, but then I was there for it and saw things from the inside looking out. And the stories in the book that you might think were too wild be to true have actually been distorted in such a way to make them more tame than they really were. In reality there were far more wild stories to be told such as when I reported a serious bug I had found to Craig and he kicked a hole in the wall. Or the motorcycle peeling out in the hallway–melting a hole in the carpet. Or the “less than legal” fireworks display on the Microsoft campus (I had NOTHING to do with that! This is readily determined from the fact there were no windows broken, no craters, and no mushroom shaped clouds). Or one morning about 2:00 AM hearing, in the next hallway over, cursing, pounding, and what sounded like the tinkling of shattered glass (it was the falling keys from the keyboard Craig was pounding against desk). Or when the “man with a gun” showed up to visit his ex-girlfriend in a different building Craig decided my office was a good place to visit–never mind that it was against the rules for anyone to have a gun on campus and there was little I could have done to protect anyone from someone with a gun.
I even have a Craig Eisler quote in my quote database:
NO! END OF DISCUSSION! SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!
Microsoft Software Development Lead
(Yelling at a contract programmer who wanted to add hundreds of lines of new code to a project after a code freeze and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer).
And no, I wasn’t the programmer he was yelling at.
And another quote from that same era:
I would have gone postal… but I didn’t have enough ammo.
August 26, 1996
Explaining why he decided to take a two week vacation in Greece.
He said that in a manner which could have been taken as a joke, but it also could have been taken as something other than a joke. I had been to the range with Josh and his shooting skills were not particularly good but they don’t need to be if you are just going to be blasting away at “fish in a barrel”. About two weeks after Josh returned from vacation he was fired–I was at a state of high alert for a month or so until I knew he had found another job.
Yes, there was a lot of stress there in those days but I thrive on stress and my first few years at Microsoft were among the happiest and most exciting of my time in corporate America.