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Presidential Overload at Microsoft

Microsoft is going wild with the "president" title. Just last week, CEO Steve Ballmer took the opportunity presented by one departing president (Stephen Elop) to bestow the big title on three people. The new presidents are Don. Mattrick (Interactive Entertainment Business), Kurt DelBene (Microsoft Office Division) and Andy Lees (Mobile Communications Business). Congratulations are in order for all three of these executives, of course.

Call me old school, but, to me, president and CEO are basically one title. You pick one or the other and everybody else is some grade of VP. Microsoft's title conventions are starting to remind of the "but it goes to 11" bit from the movie Spinal Tap.

A cursory review of the Microsoft Executive Biographies page reveals seven presidents now. In addition to the three new ones, there's Steven Sinofsky (Windows & Windows Live Division), Bob Muglia (Server & Tools Business), Qi Lu (Online Services Division) and Jean-Philippe Courtois (Microsoft International).

That's not counting those who have president or CEO or chairman as some part of their titles, in many cases for the legitimate purposes of running a subsidiary. That category includes Robert Youngjohns, senior vice president and president, North America Sales & Marketing; Umberto Paolucci, senior chairman, Microsoft EMEA (he's also a corporate vice president); Yasuyuki Higuchi, president & CEO, Microsoft Co. Ltd., Japan (he's also a corporate vice president); and Simon Leung, corporate vice president and chairman and CEO, Microsoft Greater China Region.

On a more consequential note, the Microsoft Business Solutions (Dynamics) product group is being moved out of the Microsoft Office Division. CVP Kirill Tatarinov runs Dynamics and will report directly to Ballmer. Does this mean, we'll start to see hard figures for the Dynamics business in Microsoft's quarterly filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission? I'm keeping my fingers crossed for greater transparency, but I wouldn't be surprised if the results remain buried under other line items.

Posted by Scott Bekker on October 04, 2010 at 11:58 AM


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