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Microsoft Executive Diaspora Grows

The big news late last week, of course, was that Eric Schmidt will soon step down as CEO of Google and turn the company back over to company cofounder Larry Page.

As news goes, though, that story was a little bit boring. The whole thing seemed pretty friendly -- Schmidt will stay on as an adviser and as executive chairman and will no doubt continue raking in loads of cash. Everybody wins.

That's not so much the case in Redmond these days, where the Execudus that has seen the departure of Bob Muglia, Robbie Bach, Jeff Raikes, Ray Ozzie and a bunch of other honchos added another name to its list last week.

This time, it's Brad Brooks, a key Windows 7 marketing figure, who is leaving for Juniper Networks. On top of that, a former 'Softie is headed for one of the company's biggest rivals: Matt Miszewski, a former Microsoft general manager and government strategist, is on his way to Salesforce.com.

There's some debate as to how valuable highly paid executives really are. In Microsoft's case, we're about to find out -- just not at Microsoft. No, instead we'll find out how much these guys are worth based on their performances at other companies, most of which compete with Microsoft. Of course, there will be a reciprocal effect in Redmond unless Steve Ballmer either does some stunning recruitment or gets really good at doing a bunch of different jobs himself.

It can take years, we figure, for these sorts of things to pan out. But if in 2015 or so Microsoft begins to really struggle, we'll have to look back at the Execudus of the last few years as a possible cause for the company's stagnation. And if it doesn't, well, we've probably written all of these hand-wringing blog entries for nothing. Stay tuned...

How much will the departures of big-name executives affect Microsoft? Sound off at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on January 24, 2011 at 11:57 AM


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