Microsoft today announced that they had persuaded Yahoo’s Dr. Qi Lu to sit in the hot seat at the head of their Online Services Group which had been glaringly empty since the departure of Kevin Johnson in July:
Microsoft Corp. today announced that Dr. Qi Lu will join the company as president of the Online Services Group. Dr. Lu will lead Microsoft’s efforts in search and online advertising and all the company’s online information and communications services. Dr. Lu will report to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer.
Lu, 47, most recently served as executive vice president of Engineering for the Search and Advertising Technology Group at Yahoo!, where he was responsible for development efforts around Yahoo!’s Web search and monetization platforms. Dr. Lu left Yahoo! in August 2008 after 10 years of service.
Without trying to allocate blame, I can’t help but observe that if Yahoo had a decent "Web search and monetization platform" they wouldn’t be in the difficult situation that they currently find themselves where selling some of their search keywords to Google looked like a good deal..
Lu’s first day at Microsoft will be Jan. 5, 2009. In his role running the Online Services Group, he will oversee several groups including the Advertiser & Publisher Solutions business, managed by Scott Howe who was promoted to corporate vice president; the Online Audience business, managed by Senior Vice President Yusuf Mehdi; OSG Research & Development, managed by Senior Vice President Satya Nadella; and OSG Finance, managed by Rik van der Kooi who was promoted to corporate vice president.
The Advertiser & Publisher Solutions business had been run by Brian McAndrews who came to Microsoft with the acquisition of aQuantive and had been rumored to be moving up in the Microsoft hierarchy, but he didn’t get to be head honcho and is now moving on:
With the successful integration of aQuantive now complete, Brian McAndrews, former CEO of aQuantive and senior vice president of Microsoft’s Advertiser & Publisher Solutions Group, has decided to transition out of Microsoft, and will do so over the next several months, serving in a consultative capacity to Steve Ballmer and Qi Lu during that time.
One interesting tidbit is that the advertising salesmen so beloved of previous Microsoft online executives have been shifted:
As part of today’s announcement, several teams will move to further align resources. The field sales organizations in the Online Services Group will move to Microsoft’s centralized Sales, Marketing and Services Group led by chief operating officer Kevin Turner. This group, called Consumer & Online, will be led by Corporate Vice President Darren Huston and will include the Global Advertising Sales and Services organization, led by vice president Bill Shaughnessy.
So Dr. Lu will not be distracted by mundane commercial considerations which is fine given his engineering background and presumably he has made that distinction clear to CEO Steve Ballmer. However, eventually it will come down to the bottom line no matter how much the Microsoft online properties glitter from a technical perspective.
Microsoft’s online deck chairs have been in disarray since the departure in July of Kevin Johnson, but they got a new arrangement this week with veteran SVP Yusuf Mehdi picking up responsibility for MSN and Microsoft’s search properties. The best line award goes to Angela Gunn at BetaNews who opines:
Yusuf Mehdi is the new number-two for Microsoft’s Online Services division — but, as The Prisoner would be the first to ask, who is Number One?
A curious question, but par for the course of Microsoft’s online efforts.
Medhi, formerly Senior VP of Strategic Partnerships, has shifted his responsibilities from mergers and acquisitions to MSN and Microsoft’s search properties. He takes most of the job’s marketing and search tasks off the plate of Bill Veghte, the senior VP now focusing mainly on the Windows and Windows Live groups; Veghte picks up a new title, Senior Vice President for the Windows Business.
But Medhi isn’t stepping into the top spot for the online properties group, leaderless since Kevin Johnson jumped for Juniper Networks in the wake of the failed Yahoo acquisition. That leader will be…
…announced at some later date, says Microsoft. For now, Mehdi joins two senior VPs tasked with interim division leadership: Brian McAndrews, who manages the Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group, and Satya Nadella, head of the Search, Portal, and Advertising Platform Group.
Until a new Online Audience Business head is hired, the three will report to CEO Steve Ballmer, who’s said to be still seeking a high-profile “get” — internal or external — for the top spot. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to BetaNews Tuesday afternoon that the search is still most definitely on for that person.
Mr. Ballmer is apparently asking volunteers to step forward and everyone is taking one step back. I’d suggest an immense signing bonus and a similar golden parachute.