Microsoft Dumps Don Dodge

Don Dodge, admired by many technology entrepreneurs as Microsoft’s enthusiastic ambassador to the startup world, is one of those swept up in today’s big round of layoffs at the software giant. Dodge was director of business development for the Emerging Business Team, working from Microsoft’s offices in Cambridge, MA.

Dodge revealed the news in a post on his own blog today. He said the termination came as “a total surprise” and that his managers, who include corporate vice president for strategic and emerging business development Dan’l Lewin, “offered no explanation.”

As Greg reported earlier, the layoffs announced today affect some 800 people across the company, including employees based in Washington and Massachusetts. The company hasn’t revealed specifics about which locations were affected most severely, so it isn’t known whether Dodge is part of a larger contingent of Cambridge-based Microsoft employees being let go.

Dodge is a veteran of Web and software companies Forte, AltaVista, Napster, Bowstreet, and Groove, who joined Microsoft as a result of its acquisition of Groove in 2005. He is extremely well known in the technology community in Boston and around the country as a booster of startup-based entrepreneurship.

Dodge was philosophical in his blog post about getting a pink slip. “Today I start thinking about the next chapter in my life,” he writes. “Being totally consumed with my job and traveling every week has left no time to think about other opportunities. That changes today. I couldn’t be more excited about the future….I will be blogging more often now, and that excites me. There are lots of topics that I have wanted to dive into but just haven’t had the time. I will be seeing more friends too. Again, I have been so busy traveling that I haven’t had time to connect with friends all over the world. It’s all good.”

Reaction to Dodge’s dismissal from the blogosphere has been swift, incredulous, and angry. Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, is calling the decision “a huge mistake for Microsoft,” since Dodge was “the face of Microsoft” to many in the startup community. “He travels constantly, speaking at events whenever he’s asked, and makes a big effort to give young startups the attention they deserve. This is a guy who gives a heck of a lot more to the community than he ever takes back…Don invested years of his time making Microsoft seem more human. He wasted all that time, apparently.”

Dodge said in a Twitter post today that his “phone has been ringing off the hook” since he posted the news.

Dodge has been a guest blogger for Xconomy, contributing a piece on the Web 2.0 investing bubble in June 2008 and a piece on venture capital fundraising in September 2008.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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2 responses to “Microsoft Dumps Don Dodge”

  1. affected says:

    16-18 gone from FUSE labs, formerly Microsoft Startup Labs. That’s about half the team.