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Microsoft Loses Online Advertising VP to Priceline Subsidiary

The corporate vice president of Microsoft's Consumer & Online (C&O) business, Darren Huston, is leaving the company to become CEO of Priceline subsidiary Booking.com, Microsoft confirmed on Monday.

Huston began his eight-year tenure at Microsoft as the corporate vice president of the Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners Group. In 2005, he became president and CEO of Microsoft Japan -- the company's "second-largest subsidiary," according to his Microsoft executive bio.

Most recently, Huston served as corporate vice president of Microsoft's C&O group, where he oversaw the online sales and marketing efforts for Microsoft's consumer products, including Windows, Bing and Windows Phone. Huston led a team that comprised about 3,000 employees in over 40 countries.

Inklings of Huston's departure from Microsoft may have been evident since April, when a reorganization of Microsoft's online advertising units effectively dissolved the C&O group that Huston led. During that reorganization, 13-year Microsoft veteran Frank Holland was named head of the newly formed Advertising & Online organization, while 17-year Microsoft veteran Chris Capossela was appointed senior vice president of Microsoft's Consumer Channels and Central Marketing Group.

As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported at the time, Microsoft was unclear about where Holland's and Capossela's appointments left Huston. One spokesperson told the Seattle P-I that Huston would be exiting the company, while another said, "Huston may not leave Microsoft and could move to another role." At any rate, the Seattle P-I reported the spokesperson as saying "[Huston] will help Holland with the transition until the end of Microsoft's fiscal year."

The spokesperson later confirmed to the Seattle P-I that Microsoft was dissolving the C&O group.

Booking.com, Huston's new company, is a major online hotel-reservation service. In a prepared statement, Priceline President and CEO Jeffery H. Boyd said, "[Huston] is extremely familiar with the online marketing landscape and the strategies that work in different markets around the world. And his leadership of business activities in Japan and 40 other countries position him to understand the global landscape, market conditions, and growth opportunities facing Booking.com."

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.