Microsoft loses three more cloud-savvy heavy hitters

Brain drain in Redmond turns into outright hemorrhage, as three more key players depart -- including the head of Office 365

Keeping track of the revolving doors to Redmond's executive washrooms is turning into a full-time pursuit.

Cloud visionary Ray Ozzie announced his departure in October (see "Ray Ozzie's leaving Microsoft: What took him so long?"). Cloud-savvy Bob Muglia announced his retirement as president of the Server and Tools Division -- including the Azure effort -- a couple of weeks ago (see "With Muglia gone, who will succeed Ballmer?"). Last May, Robbie Bach left as president of the Entertainment Division. Xbox and Zune tech luminary J Allard left at the same time. Last September, Stephen Elop left as president of the Business Division, including Office. Brad Brooks, the head of Windows marketing to consumers, left last week.

Now in the past 24 hours we've seen details about the defections of three more heavy hitters.

First came news that Microsoft filed a lawsuit, then sought and received a restraining order, against Matt Miszewski. He's the former general manager of worldwide government in the Microsoft Dynamics group, where he guided "the business, technical, and architectural structure of Microsoft's offerings in the government industry." He left Microsoft at the end of December.

Last week, announced that Miszewski was their new senior VP of global public sector, where he "will lead's global public sector initiatives to help governments make their citizens more successful through the power of cloud computing." Microsoft claims that Miszewski violated his noncompete and confidentiality agreements by taking this new job, bringing with him detailed knowledge about Microsoft's Dynamics CRM products, and the future direction of Azure.

Then we heard that Dave Thompson, corporate VP of online services, the guy who's in charge of Office 365 and Microsoft's business foray into the cloud, will be leaving after Office 365 launches. Thompson's been with Microsoft for 21 years. He started with NT networking, moved over to Server, then Exchange, and finally led the effort to create BPOS, Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite -- a for-hire amalgam of Exchange, SharePoint, Live Meeting, and Lync (formerly Office Communications) that will grow up to be Office 365. The move's been in the works for a couple of months, according to Microsoft.

Rounding out the dearly or nearly departed, the ReadWriteWeb site announced that it had discovered a picture of Alek Kolcz on the Twitter employee page (hint: he's at row 26, column 11). That doesn't quite rate as a press release, much less a restraining order, but it seems entirely plausible that Alek has quietly left Redmond for the Bay Area. Alek's a computer science type, with a long list of scholarly publications. As the sole Principal Scientist at Bing, he's considered to be one of the key tech guys.

With 90,000 employees or so, Microsoft's loss of a handful of executives and techies isn't statistically significant. But the turnover among cloud-savvy senior executives -- Ozzie, Muglia, arguably Brooks, notably Thompson -- has to hurt.

This article, "Microsoft loses three more cloud-savvy heavy hitters," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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