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June 21, 2006

Time for some Martin Taylor departure theories

Posted by David Hunter at 10:16 AM ET.

Yesterday’s abrupt and puzzling departure of Martin Taylor, the Microsoft corporate VP in charge of marketing for the high profile Windows Live offerings, is fertile ground for speculation and the theories have already started to crop up. Parmy Olson at Forbes recounts Taylor’s puzzling disappearance and offers:

Not surprisingly, Taylor’s sudden departure has left many scratching their heads. Some observers believe Ray Ozzie, the man set to take over Bill Gates’ role as chairman in 2008, may have had a hand in trying prepare his own team of executives. With Windows Live still in its fledgling stages, this was perhaps a good a time as any to reshuffle the deck.

Either way, Taylor’s departure will likely be disruptive. Microsoft will be losing the executive just as Windows Live starts a roll-out of 20 more products and a big marketing blitz this summer.

Whew, that’s mighty hefty theorizing! While the possibility exists that Ozzie might become chairman, right now he’s chief software architect and one would expect marketing to be outside his purview.

As long as we are making stuff up though, I’m partial to a Pirates of the Caribbean theory myself – someone in Microsoft’s executive suite surely must have noticed that it was rather odd marketing to so intimately tie Tuesday’s announcement of the first real Windows Live product and a pillar of the Windows Live strategy to a sequel of an old Disney movie.

Update: Theories seem to be sparser than I anticipated, but there’s now the “Maybe he took Ballmer’s parking space” theory and Benjamin J. Romano at The Seattle Times observes that:

Taylor’s exit comes a month after his boss, David Cole, head of the online business group, began a yearlong leave of absence. Cole was replaced by Steve Berkowitz, former president of search company

Update 6/21: Todd Bishop delivers the best line – “Well, Martin Taylor wasn’t Mini-Microsoft, apparently.” The Mini-Microsoft commentary is here and, as always, check the comments.

Filed under Employee Retention, Executives, General Business, Marketing, Microsoft, Steve Berkowitz, Windows Live, Windows Live Messenger

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