April 24, 2006
@ 02:25 PM

I read a number of news stories last week about Microsoft hiring a former exec from Ask.com to run MSN. A number of these news sources and corresponding blog posts got the story wrong in one way or the other

In her news story entitled Former Ask.com president will join Microsoft Kim Peterson of the Seattle Times wrote

Microsoft has hired the former president of search rival Ask.com to run its online business group, overseeing the MSN and Windows Live units and playing a big role in the company's move to the Web.

In the Reuters news story entitled Microsoft hires CEO of Ask.com to head Web unit it states

Software giant Microsoft Corp. said on Friday it hired away Steve Berkowitz, the chief executive of rival Internet company Ask.com, to head Microsoft's own Internet business.

In her blog post entitled CEO of Ask.com moves to Microsoft Charlene Li of Forrester Research wrote

Most importantly, Microsoft is taking a very important step in putting ALL of the hot consumer products under one team. Live.com is at the core of Microsoft's turnaround -- it represents fast development cycles and a totally new approach to addressing the marketplace. At the same time, Microsoft can't turn its back on the advertising juggernaut of MSN.com. In the past year, there's been uncertainty about how MSN.com and Live.com will work together. Having them all come together under Steve will be a first step in addressing the concerns of the MSN.com group while maintaining Live.com's momentum.

Highlighted in red are statements which are at best misleading. I'm not singling out the above news publications and bloggers, almost every article or blog post I read about Steve Berkowitz being hired gave the same misleading impression.

Why are they misleading? That's easy. Let's go back to the Microsoft press release Microsoft Realigns Platforms & Services Division for Greater Growth and Agility which breaks out Microsoft's internet business into the following three pieces

Windows and Windows Live Group
With Sinofsky in charge, the Windows and Windows Live Group will have engineering teams focused on delivering Windows and engineering teams focused on delivering the Windows Live experiences. Sinofsky will work closely with Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie and Blake Irving to support Microsoft’s services strategy across the division and company.

Windows Live Platform Group
Blake Irving will lead the newly formed Windows Live Platform Group, which unites a number of MSN teams that have been building platform services and capabilities for Microsoft’s online offerings. This group provides the back-end infrastructure services, platform capabilities and global operational support for services being created in Windows Live, Office Live, and other Microsoft and third-party applications that use the Live platform. This includes the advertising and monetization platforms that support all Live service offerings.

Online Business Group
The new Online Business Group includes advertising sales, business development and marketing for Live Platforms, Windows Live and MSN — including MSN.com, MSNTV and MSN Internet Access. David Cole, senior vice president, will lead this group until his successor is named before his leave of absence at the end of April.

That's right, three pieces each with it's own corporate vice president. So Charlene Li isn't quite right when she says that MSN.com and Live.com are now aligned under Steve Berkowitz. Instead what's being aligned under him is the business development and marketing for both sites. The platform that powers Live.com should be under Blake Irving while the actual website development is under Steven Sinofsky.

I'm sure that makes as much sense to you as it does to me. However according to the press release, this organizational structure will increase Microsoft's agility in delivering innovation to customers.

I can't wait.


 

Monday, April 24, 2006 7:33:23 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Speaking of org fuckedupness - isn't anyone else bothered by the "steve" conspiracy? Now, besides the "Steve" (Liffick) who heads several Windows Live communications clients including Messenger & Spaces, two of our three divisions will be lead by "Steve"s (Sinofsky & Berkowitz), who both report to a VP who reports to another "Steve" (Ballmer). Speaking of famous CEO's we have another "Steve" (Jobs), and speaking of famous computer nerds, there's "Steve" (Urkle). I sure know what i'm naming my first-born. Convieniently, my dad will think i'm naming the kid in his honor, the slightly less-influential "Steve" Pearlman.
Thursday, April 27, 2006 6:20:19 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Hey, while describing a re-org a couple of years ago described an executive who'd been at the company for about 18 months as a "Microsoft veteran." Their fact checking is obviously just sloppy since the MS executive ranks are very far away from having the sort of attrition that makes one a veteran after only a year and a half.
anonymous
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