Thursday, January 10, 2008

And then there was one...

Jeff Raikes retires from MSFT.

My initial reaction - "Wow!". Didn't see this one coming. Gates, Ballmer, and Raikes have effectively been the top echelon of the company for as long as I can remember. With Gates having already announced his retirement this year, and now Raikes as well, that leaves just Ballmer from the original troika.

The [external] choice for Raikes' replacement seems to have the right pedigree. There is also a fairly decent transition period - so hopefully no balls get dropped in the process. But Raikes did a solid job with Office and was widely seen as the leading candidate to succeed Ballmer. So combine that with some other recent high level departures, and I don't think the market is going to respond positively to the news tomorrow.

Some coverage:


Update: Made some additions/deletions.

Update #2 (1/11/08): Additional coverage that caught my eye:

As someone who has been calling for leadership change for some time, I guess I'm overall happy to see it possibly occurring in earnest. But if it is (and the departure of Gates and Raikes make it unique regardless), it's almost inevitable that there will be those you didn't want to lose along the way - and ones that don't go who should. Let's hope both are minimized. It would also be nice if these announcements weren't landing so close to earnings and dribbling out piecemeal, with reports of still more departures to come. As this level, as reported, these things don't normally come as a surprise, at least for Ballmer. So make the announcements - all of them - and let employees and the market move on. That way it sounds like planned change, not musical chairs at the top or - worse - abandon ship.


  • Right pedigree? Are you nuts?
    When Elop was CEO of Macromedia, they had 1,500 employees and 400 million in revenue. That's 15 days of revenue in the office business.

    Not to mention his experience is selling tools for a mostly graphic design,web centric world. Not process and productivity apps. Silverlight doesnt sit in MBD.

    As office faces it's greatest threat ever in the multiheaded monster of IBM, Google, SAP, Oracle, Open Source, they reached out and got the former CIO of Boston Chicken?

    MSFT couldnt have found someone better? Has the company truly lost it ability to attract talent even at this level? It's a dream job. Instead we'll see this guy flounder like most external hires (Ray, guy 'phantom exec', etc) Not a good move at all.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:06 AM  

  • "Right pedigree? Are you nuts?
    When Elop was CEO of Macromedia, they had 1,500 employees and 400 million in revenue. That's 15 days of revenue in the office business."

    And what did he sell Macromedia for? Ans: $3.4B. That's pretty serious money even by MSFT standards. More recently at JNPR, he was COO for a company doing $600M+/Q. Before that, he ran Adobe's global sales organization - another plus given MSFT's competitive battle there. Then you have the computer engineering degree, the CIO experience (I don't care where it was - it's the appreciation for the customer side of things and how organizations view technology purchases that counts), etc. WRT facing competitive threats, his track record suggests he's been successfully fighting as the underdog against the best in the industry for most of his career. Being the leader should be easier by comparison.

    The simple reality is that at $10B+/year for Office, you have less than 4 companies to poach from if you insist on experience with software at the same scale. And those folks are all in line for CEO where they are, not being #2 to Ballmer for the next 9 years (assuming you can weather MSFT's notorious politics). Then you have the flat stock, and that's hardly making the overall package more appealing. At the end of the day it's about what skills the candidate brings to the table. As you suggest, just coming from another big company doesn't guarantee success. From my vantage, all I can say is what I did: his pedigree seems right. Whether that translates into success at MSFT is TBD. And of course Ballmer vetted him much more thoroughly than I, so he must be right, right?

    By Blogger MSFTextrememakeover, at 9:27 AM  

  • On thing I would note: being inside Macromedia and Adobe, he may have a great insight/view of them - as Office/Silverlight division major competitors... may be a 'under the hood' skill he birngs to the table at the end of the day :) know and be next to your friends, know better and be closer to your enemies, someone says...

    By Anonymous mescwb, at 3:04 PM  

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