Over the weekend, Kara Swisher at Re/code posted a blog that really shouldn't surprise anyone who's been watching. EVP of marketing Tami Reller is leaving her post in the near future, and EVP of business development Tony Bates already bumped his butt on the door out. (The "E" in "EVP" means "reports directly to Satya Nadella.")
As I said last week, "I'd be very surprised if Elop stayed much beyond his vesting period, and if Kevin Turner and Tony Bates now see much of a career path ahead of them in Redmond."
We're watching the first shoe drop.
Reller is in charge of marketing for all of Microsoft, but she's been at odds with Anointed Marketeer (and friend of Steve Ballmer) Mark Penn, who as EVP of advertising and strategy is supposed to be cooperating with her. Marketing and advertising turf wars aren't unusual anywhere, but they're particularly poisonous at Microsoft because "Scroogled" Penn is such a polarizing figure, and because both Reller and Penn sit in the inner circle (that "E" thing).
It would've been interesting to sit in on the marketing/advertising meetings when the powers that be decided to run touchy-feely Super Bowl ads, instead of wallowing in recycled Scroogled dirt. Reller clearly won that round, but my guess is that she's tired of fighting the war. Figure it'll take about 10 seconds for her to find a better job.
Bates is another story altogether. As Swisher says, Bates "apparently told Nadella he could not make a long-term commitment to the company." Easy to understand why -- people seem to forget that Bates was plucked from Cisco to lead Skype three-and-a-half years ago. When Microsoft bought Skype six months later, Bates pocketed $14 million for his shares in the company. If there's a list of "Most Eligible Tech CEOs" running around somewhere, Bates is certainly at or near the top of it. Bates will take about a month to find a better job -- as the head of something very important.
Microsoft marketing SVP Chris Capossela, a 20-year Microsoft veteran and former Office marketing head, will take over for Reller.
Eric Rudder, the highly respected former head of Microsoft R&D, who's been sitting on the sidelines twiddling his thumbs for the past three months, will take over Bates' spot in the org chart. Since Bates' old position was basically that of CEO-in-waiting, with few line responsibilities, Rudder's taking over the vacancy is largely ceremonial.
The most disturbing part of the announcement: What's going to happen to Penn. According to Swisher, he will continue reporting directly to Nadella, and "he will apparently look at new product areas and strategic investments for Microsoft." The blogs are awash with comments about how Penn was promoted, demoted, either, or both.
Here's how I read the tea leaves: Nadella's trying to ease him out but doesn't want to tick off Microsoft's soon-to-be-largest shareholder. I, for one, will relish the departure of Mr. Scroogled. His approach is beneath Microsoft.
Many more shoes are yet to drop. Stay tuned.
This story, "Tami Reller and Tony Bates are out at Microsoft -- stay tuned for more departures," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.