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February 19, 2006

MSN head David Cole announces leave of absence

Posted by David Hunter at 10:00 AM ET.

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.

Filed under Executives, Kevin Johnson, MSN, MSN Search, Steve Ballmer, adCenter

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3 Responses to “MSN head David Cole announces leave of absence”

  1. Another leaked “Live” memo -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] The last time, the leaked memos were from Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie. This time the leaked memo is from David Cole, the Senior VP in charge of MSN who is about to go on a leave of absence. Olga Kharif has the story at BusinessWeek Online: David Cole, a Microsoft senior vice-president, outlined progress and key objectives for Windows Live in a memo obtained by BusinessWeek Online. “We’ve made incredible progress on various Windows Live initiatives,” he writes in the Mar. 7 note. [...]

  2. Microsoft nabs CEO to run online businesses -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Effective May 8, Berkowitz succeeds David Cole, a 20-year Microsoft veteran, who is set to begin a one-year leave of absence, Microsoft said in a statement. He had outlined his plans in a memo to employees in February. We mentioned the Cole LOA when it was announced. Berkowitz was named the senior vice president of Microsoft’s recently formed Online Business Group, which brings together the operations of Microsoft’s MSN Internet business unit with other consumer businesses within Microsoft. [...]

  3. Bradford to head MSN? -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] MSN has lacked an executive since David Cole took a leave of absence in February although technically he was replaced in April by former executive Steve Berkowitz who runs the Online Business Group created in March which includes MSN. [...]

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