Todd Bishop at the Seattle P-I:
Microsoft Corp. is looking for a new leader for its MSN division, the group at the center of the company’s online efforts.
David Cole, the senior vice president in charge of the division, told employees in an e-mail message Friday that he plans to take a one-year leave of absence from the company at the end of April, leaving it unclear if he will return to Microsoft.
In the message, obtained by the Seattle P-I, Cole described the decision as personal, made on his own. He said he wasn’t asked to leave by Chief Executive Steve Ballmer or by Kevin Johnson, co-president of the company’s Platforms, Products & Services Division, under which MSN was placed during a company-wide restructuring last year.
Bishop has the full text of the email on his blog.
A former money-loser, MSN has become consistently profitable, posting $405 million in operating profit in the company’s last fiscal year. It’s also the key player in Microsoft’s Windows Live initiative, through which the company is trying to make more money through online advertising and by offering software through subscriptions.
But MSN Search isn’t getting traction and adCenter is slow off the mark, yadda, yadda. All of which leads to tongues wagging that Cole was pushed out. Gossip aside, the key question is: if Windows Live is so important to Microsoft, who’s in charge? So far, no one. This is likely another step in the organizational rationalization of Windows Live and the current odd status of its progenitor, MSN.