Bill Gates, meet David Brent
The creators of The Office satirized Microsoft, with the company's permission. Now it's on Google.
NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Want to test drive Microsoft's new Windows Live Search engine, which launches with great fanfare Tuesday? Run a search for "Microsoft" and "Ricky Gervais" and see what you get.
For the moment, at least, you'll come across two satirical training videos made for Microsoft's (Charts) UK employees in which British comedian Gervais, co-creator and star of BBC smash hit The Office, plays David Brent, the insufferable boss he made famous during the show's two-year run.
Gervais and his creative partner Stephen Merchant - who plays a flummoxed Microsoft employee in the farce - created the videos back in 2003, but they recently made their way onto YouTube and Google Video, to the dismay of the powers that be up in Redmond. At Microsoft's behest, they have been removed from YouTube, but can still be viewed on Google here.
The twin videos - one called "Office Values" and one dubbed "Realizing Potential" - cleverly satirize the often hollow corporate paeans to "values" and display Brent at his boorish best, at one point referring to Microsoft chairman Bill Gates as "Sir William of Gates" and not so subtly trying to weasel his way into a job interview while at the same time mocking the Microsoft employees as "dweebs" who live with their mothers and watch "Deep Space Nine."
Here are some choice nuggets of Brent's workplace wisdom:
On sharing ideas: "If you do have good ideas, keep still. Don't give them away. Keep those ideas to yourself, and set up a rival company. I don't think Gates made his millions by putting up his hand in the early days and saying, 'Duh, boss, I've got a brilliant idea. I'd like to see every home and office with a computer.' Oh gee, thanks Gates - ka-ching - now get back to work you little dweeb."
On equal opportunity: "It's a bit annoying if you give a woman a job and she leaves right away to have a baby. I don't want to think of her and her husband going at it when I'm interviewing her."
On honesty: "Don't trust anyone in business. It's dangerous."
On loyalty: "Always be looking for a better job."
A Microsoft spokesman in the UK said that the videos were "a light-hearted way of getting our staff to think about the values they attach to working at Microsoft and, through the character of David Brent, illustrate what not to do in the workplace."
The spokesperson would not say how much Gervais and Merchant were paid for their appearance, but the London Times has reported it was a six-figure sum. Coincidentally, Microsoft's UK headquarters is in Reading, Berkshire, which is Gervais' hometown.
Whatever the terms of the deal, Microsoft assumed - naively, perhaps - that the videos wouldn't eventually find their way onto popular file-sharing sites. "The agreement was for the videos to be used for internal purposes only," the spokesperson said. "We have taken steps to ensure the videos are taken out of the public domain."
The spokesperson would not comment as to why the videos were still up on Google. A YouTube spokeswoman declined to comment about their removal, as did representatives for Gervais.
Since the U.K. version of the show ended in 2003, it has spawned an Emmy-Award winning American remake starring Steve Carell, as well as French (Le Bureau) and French-Canadian (La Job) adaptations. Gervais and Merchant have penned an episode for the U.S. show's upcoming third season.