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News: Berkowitz to Microsoft

By - April 21, 2006

Steve B

(image credit) Rumors have been flying for some time, and I was not posting them. But now I have confirmation. Steve Berkowitz, head of Ask and someone I’ve worked with indirectly in the past (he was at IDG Books when I was at The Standard, an IDG property), is going to run MSFT’s online MSN.

Wow.

Will take some time to digest this. I had just asked him to speak at Web 2. Now I REALLY want him to speak at Web 2.

An email I just got from MSFT PR, which includes an email from Kevin Johnson, a group president over MSN at MSFT:

Microsoft has hired Steve Berkowitz as SVP of the Online Business Group. He will be responsible for running the Online Business group, which includes include MSN.com, MSNTV and MSN Internet Access programming, advertising sales, business development, and marketing for Live Platforms, MSN and Windows Live. This team’s mission is to deliver world-class go to market leadership, that wins customers to our services and builds a world leading advertising business. The responsibility for the monetization of our Live Platform, MSN and Windows Live assets is owned by this team, and includes end-to-end management of the online P&L.

As you know, Steve is an accomplished senior executive with a rich skill set, including brand building, marketing operations, people management, finance and tech. Please know that PressPass will be updated shortly with additional information, so please check back shortly. Feel free to call if you have any questions.

MAIL FROM KEVIN JOHNSON

I am pleased to announce that Steve Berkowitz will be joining the Platforms and Services Division (PSD) as Senior Vice President, Online Business Group, reporting to me. Steve succeeds David Cole, who will begin his leave of absence in May.

Most recently, Steve was the CEO of Ask.com, a division of IAC/InterActiveCorp. At Ask, Steve is credited with building the management team that orchestrated the turnaround of Ask.com, grew their user base, increased customer satisfaction, and gained share in the search market over the last year.

Steve is an accomplished senior executive with a rich skill set, including consumer brand building, media, marketing, operations, people management, finance, and technology. He also brings a great blend of start-up and high growth business experiences. Prior to joining Ask, Steve was the President and COO of IDG Books, where he successfully built a consumer brand by expanding the “Dummies” series of books to cover topics ranging from C++ to pet care.

Steve’s management experience, deep functional knowledge of the search and Internet space, and understanding of both the offline and online publishing worlds make him a great choice to lead the Online Business Group. He is a proven leader, and is excited by the opportunity to take the assets we’ve built in MSN and drive our software + services vision forward.

Steve will start this assignment on May 8th. David Cole and I will work together to ensure a smooth transition to Steve.


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8 thoughts on “News: Berkowitz to Microsoft

  1. doug says:

    I second your one-word reaction: Wow.

    This is an uber-coup for Microsoft.

  2. What a fun and wide open gig! Good for Microsoft and good for Steve. Should be fun to watch them hoist the colors.

  3. Decipho says:

    Wow, this is big news. First time Microsoft that I know of is stealing away search talent from another company.

  4. Tom says:

    Terrible career move. He was better off where he was. And ask.com is set to explode as people look for alternative search engines to avoid pages “stacked” with results catering specifically to google.

    But then who am I to throw stones at someone selling his soul to the devil for a bag of pop rocks? Kudos… I guess.

  5. John, this is big news. Another example of a top-drawer punch-out following a Diller acquisition. He just can’t seem to keep strong people after a purchase, can he?

    Does this not potentially make for a legal battle for MSFT vs. IACI?

    Also, where does all this leave Yussuf at msn, do you know? I seem to recall a recent change there, too, no?

    Best,
    Stuart

  6. Remember the Expedia sale to IAC? That was a deal going to other direction (MS to IAC… well, from MS to publicly traded to IAC) and nearly the whole management staff at Expedia left over the course of the first year.

    IAC just has a different culture than most are accustomed. Not bad. Just different.

    I think Steve’s going to find a fantastic new home at Microsoft. A lot of creative latitude to do new things in new ways with access to so much more resources. On the whole a good move for him and the industry at large.

    Now, what will Barry do with top management at Ask? I’d put my money on Gardi getting tapped to lead Ask. Seems to have the chops to do the job.

  7. Doug says:

    I think this looks like a positive move for both MSN and Berkowitz. In reference to the earlier post about it being a “bad career move”, I just don’t see that. MSN has the focus of upper management, is still one of the most visited properties online, and has the muscle of Microsoft resources behind it. Imagine if Berkowitz could engineer a big uptick in MSN Search share and what that would do for his career! He would be the savior of Microsoft’s online inititiative – no small feather in his cap! Ask is always going to be a smaller player. Good luck Steve!

  8. Read this latest Search Engines Search Share and Trends released by nielsen-netratings – There are a few suprises regarding MSN Search Share

    nielsen-netratings.com/pr/pr_060424.pdf