BusinessWeek published a huge cover story package this week about internal problems at Microsoft. This involved months of reporting by Seattle Bureau Chief Jay Greene. Microsoft refused to grant interviews or answer any of our questions until the last possible moment, the afternoon before the presses ran. Then they gave us 45 minutes with CEO Steve Ballmer, who made a series of claims that we had to rush around to try to confirm in a very short time frame. One: That Microsoft ranked No. 1 among US computer science students as a favored place to work. This claim turned out to be true--but misleading.
The source for Ballmer's claim was Universum Communications, a market research outfit that does annual surveys of colleges students' opinions about potential employers. This year, Micrsoft did indeed rank No. 1, as it has for several years running. Its rating was 41%--meaning 41% of the students who responded to the survey named it as one of the five employers they would most like to work for. IBM came in second, with a 39% rating. That was a bit of a surprise. What was most telling, though, was a comparison with the previous years' results. Microsoft got a 44% rating last year, and IBM came in second with 35%. So the trend line was Microsoft down 3% and IBM up 4%. Not a pretty trend for the software giant.
What about Google, the hot company du jour? It came in 24th with a 5% ranking. The explanation: The way Universum does this is it gives the students a list of 100 employers to chose from, and Google wasn't on the list this year. It will be next year, though. You can expect its ranking to skyrocket.
If you're curious, the other top favorites were Intel, 20%; Apple, 19%, Amazon, 16%; and Cisco, 15%.