A Q&A with Sam Jadallah
Microsoft's original partner chief weighs in on today's Microsoft Partner Program.
As a young vice president reporting to then-sales chief Steve Ballmer,
Sam Jadallah helped kick-start Microsoft's entire channel business. In
a succession of roles over a 12-year career at Microsoft, Jadallah touched
nearly every aspect of the Microsoft partner ecosystem, including worldwide
marketing and sales, distribution, service channel efforts, training and
Since leaving Microsoft seven years ago, Jadallah has stayed close to
the industry and Microsoft. Currently, he's a general partner at the Menlo
Park, Calif., venture capital firm Mohr Davidow Ventures. One of the sectors
he invests in for the firm is software, which makes his inside knowledge
of Microsoft highly valuable. In an e-mail interview with Redmond Channel
Partner magazine, Jadallah assessed the changes in the Microsoft Partner
Program since his departure.
RCP: What's the most promising change to the
Microsoft Partner Program since you left in 1999?
Jadallah: The language and architecture of how they engage with partners.
It's far more developed and much more comprehensive.
Former Microsoft Partner
is now a partner at
Mohr Davidow Ventures
What's the most troubling change to the program
since you left?
Microsoft took their eye off the ball for several years. There was no
one internal, passionate champion with a complete dedication to the success
of the channel. The groups became organizationally diffused and maintained
conflicting goals. They've since found the right champion with [Worldwide
Partner Group & Worldwide Small Business Group Vice President] Allison
Watson and have recovered.
How has the character of Microsoft's partnering
efforts changed over the last seven years? How has Microsoft's growth
changed the way it must deal with partners?
Microsoft, at its core, [has always been] about enabling partners.
There are times when it was very strong and times when its execution waned,
but the commitment and interest [have] remained. As a program develops,
there's always a tendency to shift resources to the larger-scale partners.
That's a mistake -- the midmarket guys move more quickly, make earlier
market bets and were the people that brought you to the party. It's critical
to have the strongest relationships there.
What advice would you give ISVs for succeeding
Frankly, it's tougher than it should be. Microsoft took ISVs for granted
for nearly a decade. They brought in Naseem
Tuffaha, who in addition to being a strong leader is also my brother,
to improve their worldwide strategy. He took on a big challenge. I've
provided lots of constructive feedback to him. ISVs should e-mail him
Microsoft needs to enable ISVs to build distinctive products on the Microsoft
platform and, more importantly, provide a distribution channel via its
sales force so the ISV can get early customers. I'm amazed at how they've
completely dropped the ball on that part.
What advice can you give solution providers
about succeeding with Microsoft?
Build a local relationship with the Microsoft field office. Show the local
Microsoft reps how you can assist them with their top sales initiatives.
That's Job One for any SP.
Are there any steps Microsoft should be taking
right now to strengthen its channel?
Engage with the partners betting on Microsoft's success. Microsoft
needs to prove that you, as a partner or ISV, can make money and grow
fast by betting on Microsoft's new market initiatives. They need
to invest to showcase the winners but, more importantly, they need to
help those companies find customers so they can become the winners.
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.