Satya Nadella is in as CEO of Microsoft, and executives Tony Bates and Tami Reller are leaving. When Steve Ballmer announced that he would be leaving the company, there was a great deal of talk about where the company would be headed, and what that would mean for the management structure at Microsoft. The company had not been performing well by investor standards, nor making any strides in customer confidence. As the CEO search went on, the world watched and speculated about who would be at the wheel as Microsoft moved forward. That speculation was not just us looking in. The fever was even more pitched inside the company. With Ballmer gone, several key players in the company were on a list of potential candidates as CEO. Some were eager, others would just have been honored. Among those were Tony Bates and Tami Reller.
Bates, a 14 year veteran at Cisco, had told Voice on the Web in 2001 that one of his big ambitions in life had always been to be the CEO of a corporation. He had three in mind, and Skype was on the list. He was hired on as Skype's CEO in 2010, and only 6 months later Skype was purchased by Microsoft in 2011, leaving his tenure as a CEO short. But he had accomplished a great deal at Skype. So when Ballmer left, their was definitely a great deal of anticipation and hope in Bates' mind. His aspirations not realized, he informed Nadella he will be leaving. Given his talent, aspirations and drive, odds are good we will see more Bates news soon, as he get picked up to be CEO of some company, and a big one.
Reller however, has just been fighting the good fight for too long. Woody Leonhard over at InfoWorld puts it best: "Reller is in charge of marketing for all of Microsoft, but she's been at odds with Annointed Marketeer (and friend of Steve Ballmer) Mark Penn, who as EVP of advertising and strategy is supposed to be cooperating with her. Marketing and advertising turf wars aren't unusual anywhere, but they're particularly poisonous at Microsoft because "Scroogled" Penn is such a polarizing figure, and because both Reller and Penn sit in the inner circle (that "E" thing). It would've been interesting to sit in on the Marketing/Advertising meetings when the powers that be decided to run touchy-feely Super Bowl ads, instead of wallowing in recycled Scroogled dirt. Reller clearly won that round, but my guess is that she just tired of fighting the war."
What will follow here is going to be interesting to watch. As Microsoft shuffles around even more management in an attempt to keep thing running and find replacements. Industry speculation is that the departures are far from over. With the roller coaster of turmoil going on at Microsoft, there will be quite a few people predicting trouble. The fact of the matter is, Microsoft has been suffering and gasping for air since 2006. Apple's rise in market share and profitability had obvious and direct effect on Microsoft. $11 billion invested in Web Services including Bing search, and they still have nothing to show for it. To date, Microsoft maintains only 18% of search marketshare while Google maintains 67%. . Billions invested in Windows Phone, a platform that only commands 3% maketshare. PC sales continue to drop, Amazon Web services are spanking the pants off Azure, and venture capitalist investors have jumped ship due to a "decade of mismanagement".
However, the key thing to remember here is that this is the time for change. A complete changing of the guard is in order. Microsoft has been headed in the wrong direction for too long. They have too many powerful products with serious potential to surrender. With a new CEO, New management, and new thinking, they have an opportunity to change directions, to shift gears. Let's hope that these changes, are for the better..