Sometimes all you need to do is look at where former Microsoft
In recent months, a number of high-profile leaders from very different divisions of the Redmond, WA-based software firm have departed. This might be true in any given year at a company with roughly 90,000 employees, of course, but what's interesting here is where these execs are going -- and what their moves say about their respective industries. (Also noticeably absent are any publicized moves to hated competitors like Apple, Google, or Oracle.)
I posit that the following six personnel moves say more about the near-term future of industries like mobile, gaming, online services, and automotive than about Microsoft itself, although there might be some intriguing partnerships with Redmond in the works:
Stephen Elop to Nokia (CEO)
The former president of Microsoft's business division (and member of Steve Ballmer's senior leadership team) officially starts as chief executive of Finland-based Nokia
Andre Vrignaud to Amazon (gaming exec)
Microsoft's former director of game platform strategy, who helped build Xbox Live, is taking on a new, unspecified role at Seattle-based Amazon.com
John Matheny to Yahoo! (senior VP, communication products and communities)
The former general manager of Windows Phone App Studio (he worked on the ill-fated Kin) has moved on to become senior vice president of Yahoo!'s
Alex Gounares to AOL (chief technology officer)
This might be the most interesting move of all. Whatever happened to AOL? The Internet company that Steve Case built (and Marc Andreessen and Jason Calacanis used to work for) has been in decline for most of the past decade. If anyone can help turn around its technology and business, it's "AlexGo," the former Microsoft vice president and technology advisor to Bill Gates, who switched companies this summer. Look for New York-based AOL to start innovating again in online services, right the ship, and possibly even get acquired by Microsoft.
Chris Liddell to General Motors (chief financial officer)
Microsoft's former chief financial officer has been at his new post since the beginning of 2010. So far, so good. Last month, Detroit-based GM
Reed Sturtevant to Project 11 Ventures (co-founder with Katie Rae)
Closer to my home in Cambridge, MA, tech start-up veteran Sturtevant, the former head of Microsoft Start-up Labs (and previously with Eons and Idealab), has moved on since last year. Just last week, he announced his first investment with Project 11, a new Boston-area "accelerator program" and Web start-up fund (currently being raised). Project 11 isn't being billed as "micro VC" per se, but it's part of that emerging sector of small, early-stage investment funds that blur the line between angel investing and venture capital. As for Sturtevant, this seems to be a case of once a start-up guy, always a start-up guy -- big companies aren't a good fit. But it'll be interesting to see what, if anything, he brings to this new sector from his Microsoft experience.
More from Xconomy.com:
- Startup School: Round Two: The 2010 Xconomy Guide to Venture Incubators
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- Kendall Square Wants an Entrepreneurial Walk of Fame and So Should Every Innovation Hub
Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's National IT Editor and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, call him at 617-252-7323, or follow him at twitter.com/gthuang.
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