More Hat-Changing in Microsoft Executive Ranks
The high-level executive org chart at Microsoft begins looking less like a London road map.
- By Scott Bekker
- August 01, 2006
I don't envy the analysts at Directions on Microsoft who publish
those posters showing the names, titles and reporting lines of hundreds
of Microsoft executives. Even in a company notorious for constantly moving
people around, Microsoft's HR department has been exceptionally
busy in the last few months.
The headline item is, of course, Bill Gates' decision to hand over
his chief software architect title to Ray Ozzie immediately and recede
into a chairman-only position for now. He'll back away from being
a fully engaged chairman into the more traditional chairman's role
in July 2008. This is Gates we're talking about, so it won't
be all golf and sailing, or whatever it is semi-retired chairmen usually
do. He'll dedicate most of his time to giving away his and Warren
Buffett's vast fortunes in the pursuit of a healthier and better-educated
On the business side, having Gates hand over more of the everyday issues
to Steve Ballmer is a yawn for partners. Both of the Microsoft veterans
understand and value partners, and Ballmer's been more visibly associated
with improving partner relations than Gates has in recent years. On the
technical side, elevating Ozzie is just another sign that Software as
a Service is something real for which partners need to plan.
Nearer term, Microsoft is shuffling executives around to prepare for
the dozens of new products coming out over the next 18 months. Many of
these executive changes happened around the same time as Gates' big announcement,
but they're probably unrelated. Instead, they are some of the last throes
of the big departmental realignment of last fall.
In a set of moves relevant to many partners, Allison Watson got bumped
up from vice president to corporate vice president. As the head of the
Worldwide Partner Group, she'll still report to the vice president
in charge of Worldwide Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners (SMS&P),
but she gets a little more influence higher in the organization by sitting
on Kevin Turner's extended leadership team.
Having this formal, direct line to Microsoft's up-and-coming COO
should be good for the partner community. Turner, meanwhile, will inherit
the SMS&P from Business Division President Jeff Raikes. Earlier this
year, Microsoft also put the Enterprise Partner Group under Turner's
Moving SMS&P out of Raikes' group makes sense for the partner organization.
While Raikes oversaw some products critical to the channel, such as Office
and Dynamics, it was still a bit muddy for part of the partner organization
to be deep within a product division that didn't include Windows or the
infrastructure servers. Having partners under operations rather than a
product division is much cleaner. It should allow partner executives to
focus 100 percent on partner issues, rather than wearing multiple hats
within the Business Division.
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.