Until the end of 2013, Microsoft's ex-Windows head can't work at seven rival companies

Microsoft and the leader of its Windows 8 development team, Steven Sinofsky, parted ways back in November just a few weeks after the launch of Microsoft's latest OS. Earlier this month, Microsoft released details of Sinofsky's retirement package to the federal government, and one of its provisions was that Sinofsky could not take any job offers "at certain competitors" until after Dec. 31, 2013.

However, that filing didn't have a specific list of those "certain competitors". Today, Microsoft made a new filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission  which actually lists the seven companies that Sinofsky can't work for until next year, if he wants to get his full retirement payment that's worth a total of over $14 million. The companies on that list are Amazon, Apple, EMC, Facebook, Google, Oracle, and VMWare.

All of the companies on the list, with one possible exception, are heavy competitors to Microsoft in several different tech markets, so it would make sense for Microsoft to ask Sinofsky not to work for those corporations until he has been off the job for over a year. However, Facebook is in many ways not really a competitor to Microsoft. Not only does Microsoft have a modest investment in Facebook, the two companies have had a number of partnerships, mostly surrounding Facebook integration with Bing search results.

Perhaps more interesting than what's on the "Sinofsky list" is what companies didn't make it. Apparently it's OK for Sinofsky to work for BlackBerry or Mozilla or even Twitter.

Since he left Microsoft, Sinofsky spent some time teaching at Harvard and launched a blog, Learning by Shipping, where he has written a number of lengthy posts about how to manage the release of technology-themed products.

Source: SEC via GigaOM | Image via Microsoft

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33 Comments

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torrentthief said,
am i the only person thinking: Who the hell is EMC?

Hmm... I suppose most consumers wouldn't know about them, but as someone mentioned they now own VMWare (since about 2005 I think) which might be used by some consumers. They are a much bigger player in enterprise offerings however.

torrentthief said,
am i the only person thinking: Who the hell is EMC?

They are the biggest name in corporate storage, accounting for over 30% of the corporate storage market. As Chsoriano mentioned above, VMware was acquired by them, unknown to consumers but known by literally every IT Professional in Server Hardware and Virtualization field.

I use Vmware and it is really very good product for virtualization. I run Mac on Windows through VMware and it is fast and error free except not able to do copy-paste which I think is Macs issue.

Stormeh said,

They are the biggest name in corporate storage, accounting for over 30% of the corporate storage market. As Chsoriano mentioned above, VMware was acquired by them, unknown to consumers but known by literally every IT Professional in Server Hardware and Virtualization field.


I still have E=mc2 world stress balls, stress mouses and some more ****s from when my dad used to work there. I'm always amazed how few people know about emc's existence even though they are big.
Even few IT pro's in server world know about them from my experience, but this is in NL. Also many EMC locations have been closed down here over the years, every now and then I still find an old abandoned EMC building heh, there's one not to far from Oracle's Dutch office in Utrecht.

I hate the wording of, "until the end of 2013." Just say, "until 2014" because, really, he cannot start working anywhere ON the last day of 2013 -- the calendar must be at least January 1, 2014.

Nas said,
I hate the wording of, "until the end of 2013." Just say, "until 2014" because, really, he cannot start working anywhere ON the last day of 2013 -- the calendar must be at least January 1, 2014.

Agree with the change, which is now "Until Dec 31st, 2013" but saying "until 2014" is too ambiguous, "until 2014" could be the start, middle or end.

Munroe said,

Agree with the change, which is now "Until Dec 31st, 2013" but saying "until 2014" is too ambiguous, "until 2014" could be the start, middle or end.

Pretty sure "Until 2014" means until the calendar actually says 2014.

FloatingFatMan said,
These are pretty standard contract terms in business. In fact, I'm surprised the restriction term is so short...

Exactly what i was thinking. The end of 2013 is very close, close enough that he could tout for work with any of these companies and start within months.

HawkMan said,
yeah normally I would have expected 5-7 years,

Actually 5-7 years is anything but normal. The purpose of the non-compete clause is stop the employee from working for competitors and for it to be effective the offer must be fairly attractive. If it's set at 14mm for 7 years as suggested, the guy will probably make more from salary and stock options over the 7 years, so the clause has no real value because it doesn't act as a deterrent.

agreed, the same was done to the chap from Symbian when he went over to Microsoft in the early 2000's. I think he called it gardening leave. However a few years is a bit harsh, i think they settled for 6months as they said by that time all of the products the guy knew would be out in the open by that time.

Any company will be out of its mind to hire this dude. If you want anti-consumer product and want to fail your product then this is your guy.

Auditor said,
Any company will be out of its mind to hire this dude. If you want anti-consumer product and want to fail your product then this is your guy.


Really ? At a market share of over 5% in 8 months, it doesn't look like a failure to me, neither would it be an anti consumer product. You are apparently forgetting that he also was responsible for the world's most used Desktop operating system Windows 7.

Auditor said,
Any company will be out of its mind to hire this dude. If you want anti-consumer product and want to fail your product then this is your guy.

So what's failed then? Oh that's right, nothing. Check your facts before making dumb comments.

Mikeffer said,

So what's failed then? Oh that's right, nothing. Check your facts before making dumb comments.

Windows 8 is beyond failure, and the fact that there are 5% of the desktops running it shows that the sales team at Microsoft deserves the Nobel Price is Sales (if such thing existed)

To be able to sell something that everyone hates to people who hate it and brag about it, wow! that is a Nobel Right there.

Note: I use Windows 8, and I hate it, I and my 10 Windows 8 Virtual Machines are part of the 5%

john.smith_2084 said,
te: I use Windows 8, and I hate it, I and my 10 Windows 8 Virtual Machines are part of the 5%

I call BS.. you probably don't even have a single windows pc.

Auditor said,
Any company will be out of its mind to hire this dude. If you want anti-consumer product and want to fail your product then this is your guy.

I want to like your comment because it is anti windows 8. However, I think you have the wrong guy. IMHO (and yes, it is just my opinion) I fully believe that the reason Sinofsky left was because he knew Win 8 was going to be a failure.

How could a guy that put out Windows 7 (with a very distinct direction of where he wanted Windows to go) just turn around and say "aww **** it. Let's do this Metro ****". No, I am not buying it. I think he was told "shoehorn Metro onto Windows 7", and he figured he would try. Once it got down towards the end of the development cycle, and he saw the total crap that it was becoming, I think he wanted to back peddle. You don't do that at MS or your out the door.

runningnak3d said,

I want to like your comment because it is anti windows 8. However, I think you have the wrong guy. IMHO (and yes, it is just my opinion) I fully believe that the reason Sinofsky left was because he knew Win 8 was going to be a failure.

How could a guy that put out Windows 7 (with a very distinct direction of where he wanted Windows to go) just turn around and say "aww **** it. Let's do this Metro ****". No, I am not buying it. I think he was told "shoehorn Metro onto Windows 7", and he figured he would try. Once it got down towards the end of the development cycle, and he saw the total crap that it was becoming, I think he wanted to back peddle. You don't do that at MS or your out the door.

You're simply laughable.

john.smith_2084 said,

Windows 8 is beyond failure, and the fact that there are 5% of the desktops running it shows that the sales team at Microsoft deserves the Nobel Price is Sales (if such thing existed)

To be able to sell something that everyone hates to people who hate it and brag about it, wow! that is a Nobel Right there.

Note: I use Windows 8, and I hate it, I and my 10 Windows 8 Virtual Machines are part of the 5%

You sir are a fool and a wrong one at that. Good day to you!

sjaak327 said,


Really ? At a market share of over 5% in 8 months, it doesn't look like a failure to me, neither would it be an anti consumer product. You are apparently forgetting that he also was responsible for the world's most used Desktop operating system Windows 7.

Spending more than $900 million on marketing and riding on desktop monopoly, MS can only get 5% market share and you consider this to be a huge achievement. Windows 7 is no doubt a good OS and this is only good because Sinofsky did not poke his useless dumb head in the interface. With the advent of tablet Ballmer and his monkey team of executives panicked and brought this abomination called Metro. Now after $900 million write off, MS fanboy still tend to believe the next version will change the course of MS tablet future. LOL.

spudtrooper said,

I call BS.. you probably don't even have a single windows pc.

This comment was written on Windows 8.1 from Google Chrome

I am a software developer, I have a looot of hardware, everyone's hardware, that is my job.

I totally with you on this one. I've Windows 8.1 Preview installed on a notebook and I also own Surface Pro. I hate both Win8 and Surface. Once Windows 8 was released went from been Windows-only home to Mac-only home.

john.smith_2084 said,

Note: I use Windows 8, and I hate it, I and my 10 Windows 8 Virtual Machines are part of the 5%

Cute James said,
Is it me, or is that image above just a little bit creepy...

A bunch of smiling Asian girls are eager to touch Steven's device.