I first met Robert Scoble almost two years ago at a Barney’s in Noe Valley at a Geek dinner that he put on. Although I’d met him online this was the first time I’d met him face to face. Subsequently I’ve seen him many times face to face and equally online. He may be the best evangelist I’ve ever met for a company. And he really gets blogging.
The thing about Robert is that when he really genuinely likes something he can’t just help but to gush about it. I remember at that Barney’s where he brought out his tablet PC and was showing off his RSS reader in it and you could tell that this guy *really* liked his tablet PC. Oh yeah, and it was running Microsoft software. Big, bad, Microsoft embodied by this friendly loveable guy who really really loved his tablet PC. And a guy who also obviously really really loves his son (which is one of the reasons why he is moving down here to take this job). Patrick, his son, by the way was at that dinner at Barney’s. The shot above is of Robert and Patrick from the Maker’s Faire earlier this year.
But beyond my initial enthusiasm for my first meeting with Robert Scoble he continued to impress me. I had a little blog at the time (which has gotten a bit larger but is still very much a little blog), and Robert showed genuine interest in what I was blogging. I was one of the few bloggers blogging a lot about Microsoft’s Media Center Edition software, something that I really loved. Robert helped provide me significant access to people at Microsoft that I would not have had otherwise. Even though I didn’t always say good things about Microsoft or their products, I think he understood that my heart was in the right place about wanting a richer digital media experience for my living room. I’m certain that I blogged more about Microsoft than I would have otherwise because of Robert Scoble.
Scoble was an accessible person that you could go to who would help you track down information that you needed as a blogger from Microsoft. And all along the way he ran around the country having fun, meeting new people, saying great things about Microsoft, and occasionally chiding Microsoft as well, but promoting the brand everywhere he went. He took blogging seriously and was a friendly face for every blogger he met. He wrote a book along with Shel Israel about blogging.
Microsoft is losing a great evangelist with Robert’s departure. But hopefully they learned a few things while he was there. Robert worked closely with Waggener Edstrom (Microsoft’s PR agency). Hopefully they or Microsoft find some new bloggers to try and pick up where Robert left off.
The Media Center team has some great bloggers at Microsoft (Sean Alexander, Matt Goyer, Charlie Owen) and I’m sure that Scoble’s popularity made many at Microsoft consider blogging that might not have otherwise.
So Scoble says that he is going to lose his audience. “You will unsubscribe if I don’t give you a payoff. For many of you Microsoft was that payoff. Yes, Microsoft is still an interesting company for many many people in the world. When I was at my mom’s funeral, what did we end up talking about at lunch afterward? Microsoft. Everyone had an opinion about Microsoft. Everyone knew who it was. What it did.”
This is where I think he is wrong. Digital Media may be in it’s infancy but it’s where things are headed. People may not be as excited to talk about podcasting today as Microsoft, but they will be tomorrow. Digital music. Digital photographs. Digital video. PVRs. RSS. VOD. Digital media will change the way we interact with the world in so many ways in the next 10 years. This will be exciting and Robert will not have any loss of things to talk to people about and I suspect he will talk about these technologies with the same enthusiasm as he talked about that tablet PC the first time I met him face to face.
Good luck to you Robert and I’m sure you are going to do great.