John Doerr: Microsoft might be the "fifth horseman"

By Richard Nieva , written on May 23, 2013

From The News Desk

Microsoft is everyone’s favorite punching bag these days. But there’s at least one person who doesn’t think the once-seemingly invincible tech giant is done: John Doerr.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt famously listed "the four horsemen" of the technology industry: Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook. But Doerr says there could easily be a fifth or sixth, and one candidate is Microsoft.

The company’s saving grace won’t necessarily be Windows 8, though Doerr is not counting it out. (For the record, he says it’s better than Windows 7 and likes the apps built on the platform.) But what he’s really excited about is Xbox.

“They are killing it with Xbox,” he said during PandoMonthly in San Francisco. He thinks the company has a winner with Xbox Live and the network around it. Earlier this week, the company announced the well-received newest generation of the console, Xbox One, which goes beyond just a gaming device and delves into the “smart television” category. Pando's Nathaniel Mott said just that recently.

But what else does Microsoft have to do to stay in the horserace? “They need to go win in mobile,” says Doerr. That means building great franchises that work along the web and smartphones and tablets, and leveraging their lead in productivity with the Office franchise. Translation: Don’t just let Google Docs win.

He gives credit to the company for making smart acquisitions like Skype, but he thinks Microsoft should do even more buying. “Microsoft has a lot of resources,” he said. “They are not going away.”