Qi Lu - Microsoft

Talk by Qi Lu, Microsoft Executive – Bing

Tech to Biz Transition

  • Speed of learning: it’s everything.
  • Mental models: seeing enough to connect the dots.
  • fundamentally, a shift in going from analytical to creative

Lessons Learned

Microsoft perspective

  • Leadership Model
    • some know everything needed to make a product
    • some know how to interact with marketing
  • MS is moving towards an increasingly technical leadership
  • 9.7 billion dollars on research
  • high IQ’s are fungilble. Applying problem solving to different fields.

Ebay story

  • Technology matters only to a certain extent.
  • ebay got, that yahoo didn’t: seller ratings.
  • customer trust mattered more than being able to run the site on a smaller number of servers
  • core business of ebay is not going anywhere, amazon won.
  • amazon was better at building a brand than ebay.
  • The brand is very important: “if I push the button, I know the thing will get here”
  • you don’t get to know these things the first time around


  • Qi run tech for Yahoo video
  • YouTube used flash video, yahoo used an acuired solution (guy made more money than jerry yang haha)
  • importance of smooth user experience
  • can youtube be its own business without google’s cashflow?
  • yahoo had the chance to buy youtube, but let it go because they didn’t want to damage relationship with media

search story:

  • first yahoo search: grep (!!!)
  • yahoo made a mistake, in may 2000 switched search providers. then google grew
  • google at the time didn’t have a business model
  • overture, first company to make money on search, allows you to bid on ads. (a money machine!)
  • they approached google
  • business model innovations are very very important. They turned down the offer from overture to manage their auctions. Google developed their business models from sound economics

Hadoop story:

  • Open source stack for cloud computing
  • big data analysis, big business
  • Connecting IP to business.
  • Yahoo moved Hadoop out of the company. They could have owned a huge part of data analytics space (still playing out)

social story:

  • yahoo and facebook had a handshake deal. They got cold feet, tried to re-negotiate, and that killed the deal… today facebook is going IPO.


  • Sales
    • being analytical can take you very far
  • Marketing
    • needs creative ability
    • how you market is how you communicate
    • communicate, it’s not simply about building a brand, it’s about telling people who you are
  • product, marketing, and engineering, are inseparable.


  • American economy is impaired:
    • the only sustainable way to grow economy is via innovation
  • key question: How do we drive innovation?
  • Innovation is not what innovators do, it’s about customers adapting
    • customers can’t adapt to a new product every day
    • big question is how to figure out the way that people take up new products
  • Innovator’s Dilemma: disruption theory
  • common patterns of rise and fall
  • Governance model: today’s killer of innovation
    • too much power to share holders
    • they’re all short term
    • long term agenda and stockholder interests are decoupled
  • Google and Facebook
    • good planning of shareholder, and board structure, so that there isn’t such a conflict between shareholders and long term company health.

Scaling in Large Organization

  • being able to call bullshit is incredibly important (it’s not just going to take a week!)
  • to scale within R&D, build depth.
  • management talent
  • incentive engineering

Skills and Orientation


  • advice: study economics
  • CS teaches you how to build closed systems
    • however, your product is not a closed syste: your customer has some input!
    • if you’re always out of order you’ll be out of business
    • economics seems to be the best description of how decisions are made
  • advice: study statistics


product centricity
  • product: w.e. you do you need to be a product person
  • technology is the way to build the product
  • marketing is the way to sell the product
  • everything is around the product.
  • build good intuations, and inspiration will know.
  • great engineers know their products.
speed of learning
  • Don’t get comfortable
  • if you know how to do your job you’re too comfortable
  • solve a metaproblem
get connected
  • learn with others
Chances favor the prapred minds, and the connected minds



Evergreen study. Follow 200 companies. Success or failure is
independent of management structure. “What really matters” is the
information fed to the executives.

Q: how will Bing be different from google and others?

It all depends on what you think search is. (typing key words and
getting results, or other?). What is search? “Competition of
understanding user intent… to impart people with information so that
user can fulfill their purpose… human experience… that’s how we
compete with google”… having a more expansive view of what search

Q: research to product transfer

MSR: Corporate research that advances the fundamental science. Big
contribution: kinect. There are some people doing research embedded in
product groups.

Q: hiring and retaining top talent. How can large comanies retain top talent?

“Thanks, now I get to do my recruiting speech”. At the end of the day
it boils down to talented people. Microsoft wants its employees to

  • be able to solve important problems and have impact
  • work with people that you can learn from
  • ms wants to be a life long learning institution

Competition on search: not just a job. third order effects, can really influence society. really big emphasis on doing the right thing, competition will help society.