From worst to first: Microsoft named most wanted place to work in IT

Despite the challenges of the past year, Microsoft tops a global employee survey.

Microsoft most wanted desired place to work in IT
Todd Bishop

Three years ago, Microsoft was seen as a hellish place to work following a devastating profile in Vanity Fair. The company was portrayed as a miserable environment where employees were set against each other in an attempt to survive an onerous and unfair grading process called stack ranking.

That was then and this is now. The company has received the Global Randstad Award for 2015, an independent employer branding survey that identifies the most attractive employers among thousands of companies. The survey collected the opinions of more than 225,000 respondents in 23 countries.

The award doesn't mean that Microsoft is the best place to work; it measures where IT professionals most want to work. Coming in second was Sony, which speaks to the company's legacy because it has been in chaos for years and has sold off most of its businesses. Coming in third was Samsung.

"Congratulations to Microsoft: for the first time in the 15-year history of the Randstad Award, the winner scores #1 on all drivers of choice of potential job seekers! That is quite remarkable, considering the fierce competition of employers in finding and retaining talent, and IT professionals in particular," Randstad CEO Jacques van den Broek said in a statement.

No doubt the appointment of Satya Nadella to the CEO spot helped. He's done wonders to help with the problems, real and perceived, under his predecessor Steve Ballmer. While Ballmer was very popular internally with the developers, developers, developers, he was also the one behind stack ranking, which poisoned the well with everyone else.

Things have not all been smooth under Nadella. He's laid off 18,000 people in a series of waves to consolidate and streamline the company following the takeover of Nokia's Devices and Services unit.

Microsoft recently issued earnings that showed Nadella's "Cloud first, mobile first" is a split of success and failure. The cloud business, from Azure to Dynamics to Office 365, grew 106% year-over-year and is currently on track to reach $6.3 billion in annualized revenue. That would make Microsoft a bigger cloud company than Salesforce. (I am so looking forward to Benioff's reaction to that.)

On the down side, the Windows Phone business is still stinking up the earnings. Integration of the Nokia Devices and Services division cost $190 million and Microsoft loses 12 cents on every handset sold. For the quarter, Microsoft sold 8.6 million handsets. Apple, on the other hand, sold 61.2 million iPhones in the same period.

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