Who Else Will Terry Myerson Force Out of Microsoft?

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Close observers of Microsoft saw Jon DeVaan’s exit from Redmond software giant as no surprise.  In late September we reported Terry Myerson forced him out of his position as head of CSOD (Windows Core Operating System Division):

Myerson has removed some of Sinofsky’s other lieutenants from power including Grant George, Antoine Leblond and Jon DeVaan.

(see: Terry Myerson Flexes His Muscle, Removes Sinofsky’s Lieutenants From Power)

Devaan was a mentor to Steven Sinofsky and many other high profile employees at Microsoft.  DeVaan had been with the company since 1984 and became a multi-millionaire after the Microsoft’s IPO in 1986.  Many of the standard engineering practices within Microsoft were created by DeVaan after he was charged with the task by Bill Gates himself.  See our post from yesterday: Veteran Microsoft Engineering Leader Jon DeVaan Leaving The Company After 30 Years

Just as an aside, for our readers in Seattle, you may recall Jon’s wife, Stephanie is a prominent abortion rights activist. She is the founder of the Washington Women for Choice, a Seattle-based PAC working to preserve women’s rights with the help of her Microsoft millions she made while during her five years at the company. Suzan DelBele, another former Microsoft executive and current congresswoman, also retired Microsoft Office executive Kurt DelBene’s wife, received $5000 from Stephanie’s PAC.

If I recall correctly at the time Sinofsky was promoted, DeVaan and him were essentially equals leading the Windows 7 efforts.   Sinofsky was among four individuals given the president title in 2009.  Steven Elop, head of Microsoft’s Business Division; Bob Muglia, head of Server and Tools; Qi Lu, head of Online Services; Robbie Bach, head of the Entertainment Division.  Muglia was later fired after refusing to take a demotion and Bach along with J Allard left the company after the failure of the Zune/Courier initiatives.  Tami Reller was promoted at this time forcing out Bill Veghte and reporting directly to Sinofsky.  Veghte went on to become COO of HP.

Sinofsky took direct control of devices and media while relegating the kernel and VM team under DeVaan.  In some ways this caused the Server team to be subservient to the client team.  Sinofsky organized his groups under features, so there are the core groups of development, test, and program management, working on a particular technology area.

If we look at Sinofsky’s old structure he had nine principle people that reported directly to him.  Dean Hachamovitch – IE, Jon DeVaan – CSOD, Julie-Larson Green – UX, Panos Panay – Surface, Chris Jones – Windows Live, CVP Antoine Leblond (Michael Angiulo previously head of  Windows Client and Ecosystem Team), Tami Reller – marketing, Ted Dworkin – Director Windows Store, and Jensen Harris – UX.  After Sinofsky left Office, the reins were handed off to Kurt DelBene who was close friend of Sinofsky and DeVaan.

In many ways, Myerson’s structure is quite similar, just with different people.  The functional triumvirate still remains, meaning there will be heads of program management, test and development.  Myerson will have 7 individuals reporting directly to him, we know a few of them:

  • Leaders for the development
    • Heading development will be Henry Sander, previously worked on Windows Phone
    • David Treadwell from the Xbox team will lead product management for the OS group
  • Test and program-management positions,
    • Mike Fortin from Windows will head up test and quality
  • Individuals heading the company’s phone/tablet/PC
    • Joe Belfiore
  • Xbox and services departments
    • Marc Whitten
  • Another in charge of “future special projects”
    • Unknown at this time
  • Windows Store
    •  Todd Brix was promoted by Myerson when Ted Dworkin was ousted

Sanders, Fortin, and Treadwell all worked in CSOD at one time, but went on to different positions in the company.  Treadwell headed up Mesh until Sinofsky killed it in favor of SkyDrive.  Chris Jones is still in charge of SkyDrive with Omar Shaine and Mona Akmal reporting directly to him.

Of course a number of people left and were forced out during Sinofksy’s reign, and in many ways history is repeating itself.  We had a group of people come up and rise to power from the Office Division at Microsoft.  Now we have a group of people who rose to power through the Windows Phone division.  But we won’t see this being reported objectively by the Microsoft tech media, because they hate Sinofsky, and of course whatever he did was evil.  If Myerson implements his “Shut-up and ship” philosophy to Windows too, we’ll seen everyone turn on Myerson too.  “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

The only battle I have seen Myerson lose is control over Outlook.com, Windows Mail and Calendar app teams which were initially part of the unified OS group are now part of the Applications and Services (Bing) group under Qi Lu. Qi Lu has put them under them under the Outlook team group.  In fact former members of the Windows team & Sinofsky lieutenants have gone to hide in the Bing team including Ted Dworkin and Jensen Harris.

Since Ballmer has announced his retirement and Myerson we have seen a number of employees leave the company.  Surupa Biswas and Lenn Pryor have left for Facebook.  Jeff Sandquist left to go to twitter.  Charlie Kindel went to Amazon (before the re-org).  Ted Dworkin and Jensen Harris are now hiding in Bing.  Jon DeVaan has retired after being forced out of role as head of CSOD.  DeVaan released a statement after the news broke of his retirement:

“I am spending time with my family and holding space open to see what opportunities develop.”

Kurt DelBene and Craig Mundie announced their retirements as part of the re-org.  I suspect Grant George and Antoine LeBlond, who were forced out of their leadership positions, may leave the company after the new CEO is announced.  I also think Myerson will force out Chris Jones along with Omar Shaine and Mona Akmal.  Shaine and Akmal are big iPhone users, ever wonder why SkyDrive support is so great on iOS?  I doubt this will go over well with Myerson.  Another two high profile employees who may be on their way out may be Eric Rudder and Harry Shum.  Both held senior executive positions overseeing MSR.  Myerson now oversees some aspects of MSR.  I gotten some tips he is looking at killing some projects and putting in his own lieutenant.  Joe Duffy starts talking after remaining silent for over 4.5 years, coincidence right?

Whether Elop becomes CEO or not, he is bringing with him his own executive team from Nokia.  This means more people will likely be forced out of the company.  Julie Larson-Green’s time at Microsoft may be limited.  The new CEO will also put his own people in place when the time comes.

I think we are going to see many Microsoft employees leaving the company in the coming months.

“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”

This is likely my final post of 2013.  Happy New Year!



About Author

Suril is a scientist, journalist and obsessive Microsoft observer. He holds an advanced degree in Biotechnology with minors in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology. Send him tips on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/surilamin

  • SategB

    This is what happens when you announce a CEO departure with out first developing a succession plan. Cancer like Myerson and the supreme phonie hipster Belfiore runs unchecked and politics become more important the product.

    In short bad for the company and another Ballmer failure.

    Good article…just sad news

    • Joe_HTH

      I’m not sure if you’re serious or not. How is Myerson and Belfiore a cancer? Steven Sinofsky and his group was a far bigger cancer than Myerson and Belfiore could ever be. Sinofsky and his group were front and center of the politics within the company. I’d suggest you educate yourself, because your comments are ignorant.

      Sinofsky was the one who refused to work with other teams and divisions within Microsoft. He also is largely credited with killing off the Courier because it didn’t run Windows.

      You should actually watch Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley talk about Sinofsky.

      • Bugbog

        Whilst I don’t agree with what SategB is saying, neither would I take anything Paul Thurrott says as gospel! Whilst he doesn’t specifically lie, he does view everything through the prism of his own wants and desires.
        (I.e. If he has access and they are doing things the way he’d like, then everything is good. But should they decide to be a little secretive or don’t divulge information to him as he wants it? Then you can be assured that he will rant and rage against them till things ‘improve’ for him!
        So, a pinch of salt is required)

      • Emi the Strange

        lol so you are saying the person above you is wrong but you mention PAUL THURROTT and MAR

      • SategB

        The game that is now being played is the same as you complain about but with different characters. But you miss a bigger truth.

        Ballmer MSFT created a cultural where game playing was produced rather then great products being produce. People competed with with each other rather then collaborating. People would put themselves first and customers second.

        All a result of poor management, stack ranking and no succession planning. When rotaten culture is cultivated, rotten humans succeed.

    • saqrkh

      Cancer? Last I checked Windows Phone is garnering more new developer attention and support than Windows Metro and Desktop! If Terry Myerson can bring that magic to Windows Metro/Modern, it’d be amazing.

  • HoppITUp

    Nailed it with the Who song, nice listening for the end of the day.

  • Pingback: Microsoft News | Terry Myerson’s Wrath Continues: Microsoft Confirms George Grant Leaving the Company()

  • johala02

    In my opinion Myerson and Belfiore have implemeted the Metro style best in Windows Phone 7. Sinofsky and his team not listen to them all when they make Windows 8.
    So I am not suprised they will be forced out.