Microsoft Hires Former Google Exec as Chief Economist

Microsoft has tapped former Google director Preston McAfee to be its chief economist effective immediately, the company announced Monday.

McAfee was most recently the director of strategic technologies at Google, and has also served as chief economist and a research fellow at Yahoo.

In his new role at Microsoft, McAfee will report directly to Harry Shum, Microsoft's executive vice president of technology and research, and will work closely with Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood, according to Microsoft's announcement.

As part of his duties, McAfee will head a team of economists at Microsoft and develop "new business models and metrics, designing marketplaces for advertising and apps, assisting with government relations and policy, and developing an economic strategy for the company."

A Microsoft spokesperson said McAfee will be Microsoft's first full-time chief economist, as the position is a new one for the company. Previously, Microsoft had outsourced the role to consultants. The move to make the position a permanent one within Microsoft is a response to CEO Satya Nadella's vision of fostering a "data-driven culture" at the company, wrote Shum in a blog post.

"[A]s a company we need to make fewer decisions on intuition and more based on market and other data," he said. "In a post last month, Satya discussed the need for companies to create a data-driven culture, and we want to be leaders as we explore creative, diverse strategies to create greater value for our customers and greater value from our product/service data exhaust."

McAfee's hiring is "one demonstration of our intent to lead," Shum wrote.

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