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Microsoft the Uber-VC?

Dave Winer is onto something:

Isn't it obvious that Microsoft should use some of their cash to reinvigorate ISVs? Imho, that would be a buy signal for MSFT, an acknowledgement that they play a different role in the software industry of 2002 than they did in 1992. It would also help NASDAQ get over the dotcom debacle. Technology needs a mega-roadmap, in other words a roadmap for future roadmaps. Clearly nothing MS is doing now, or will do in the future, can stick, because there are no credible ISVs to adopt their schemes, to triangulate on their vision. Yes, things like Hailstorm and Palladium are necessary and inevitable, but they can't come from MS. But that's all that's left. Catch-22. Gotta dig out of this Bill and Steve. A Marshall Plan for the software industry bootstrapped in part by the $38 billion hoard.
Of course, this isn't new for Dave; back in 1997, he was proposing that Apple spend its money like this rather than acquire NeXT (written about earlier here). But this time it makes sense.

In 1997, Apple was a broken organization, held back by the incompetence of senior management. Apple desperately needed to solve its own problems first, which Gil Amelio unwittingly did by acquiring NeXT. Today, Microsoft is the most successful company in the history of high technology. Their problem is, in a sense, that they have become too successful. (Depending on your views, you may regard this as a result of competent management, monopolistic practices, or both.) Dave is right: who is left to "adopt their schemes, to triangulate on their vision?" How many major non-game software vendors can you name? Adobe? Intuit? Those are easy. Who else? It gets hard after that, doesn't it?

Even devoting just 10 percent of its cash hoard to venture investments would make Microsoft a VC of gargantuan proportions, injecting much-needed funding and excitement into the software industry.

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