Is Microsoft Second-Tier?

The message below just showed up my inbox. I’m not sure TEALS is “teal” in the Integral sense, but this is a nice practical counter-point to the anti-racism discussion in a parallel thread. My integral anti-racism practice, such as is it, is based on involvement with programs like this.

Technology Education and Learning Support (TEALS) is a Microsoft Philanthropies program that brings computer science (CS) to high school students all over the country.

Since 2009, the TEALS Program has helped over 100,000 students to receive CS education , and we are looking to make this number even bigger – that’s where you come in!
The TEALS Program is only possible because of volunteers with skills like yours. Tech industry volunteers make a lasting impact on the next generation of innovators by helping students build their CS foundation. So, why not join?
• Empower students with access to critical skills

• Use your tech knowledge to help high school teachers teach CS

• Help increase access to CS education

Together we can make a difference for an inclusive future workforce and ensure all students have access to digital skills.
People love volunteering with TEALS. Watch their testimonial video here.
Learn more about how to become a TEALS volunteer, sign up for an info session.
Best regards,
Microsoft TEALS Program Team

Yeah a couple weeks ago I was talking with Marty Behrens, a member here and someone who I’ve been working with a lot recently organizing in-person events in the Sacramento area. He used to work for Microsoft and said there might possibly be a way to persuade them to contribute resources to our initiatives. I suppose this is similar to your idea of trying to get Amazon/AWS to contribute. I’m wondering if this is greenwashing or maybe there is this new corporate trend that we might call tealwashing. I mean, because these organizations are pretty much solidly orange and they only sometimes give the impression that they care about greater causes when many of their customers, employees, and other associates put pressure on them.

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Thanks for nibbling at the bait!

The pun potential of the TEALS program and Integral “teal” was too much to resist! That being said, though, there may well be some substance here. Microsoft, Amazon, and the others clearly run orange organizationally (with a certain amount of green washing), but what about the employees in those organizations? That would include a lot of my former students, who I’m generally proud of for various reasons.

My thinking is the tech sector is probably ripe with people who are getting burned out on code and wanting to think more comprehensively about life and meaning. And yes, some of them have capital to spare for worthy causes. So providing meta-model ideas to technical seekers seems like a potentially fruitful approach.


Well, obviously a person or organization can have Computer Technology as a skill set or branch of their business and also be second Tier. Second Tier includes all Tier 1. The question would be the degree to which Computer Science and the business of Computer Science dominates their own individual lives and business operations.

An extreme example might be useful here. If I go out and murder a hundred people and this has occupied the vast majority of my time and effort, but then I give ten million dollars to a charity to feed starving children, would that establish TEAL credentials? I would say no.

So back to students and companies focused on Computer Science - the question I have is: “Can you observe 2nd Tier motivations and results in the vast majority of their activities?” The degree to which the answer is yes or no gives an indication of the answer to the OP question.

Now back to Microsoft. When Bill Gates was building the company I would say he dipped deeply into Amber. He actively tried to destroy any competition, including open source. He would give free software to governments and large organizations with the overt intent to at some time in the future raise the price on them once they were “hooked” and it would cost more to change than pay the increased fees. Yes, other software companies were also doing the same, but that does not suddenly make it any less predatory.

Later Bill Gates separated himself somewhat from Microsoft and at this point there may be an argument that Bill Gates the person is moving more into Teal - but then again it could also be just a set up for his next predatory grab of resources. The proof will be in the future. Microsoft, on the other hand has continued to be more or less the same company. Their goal is to make vast sums of money at the expense of public mental health. They do not want people to live a well balanced and emotionally healthy life and develop products for that - they make a product and try to trick people into making their lives “less” by using it.