By Jessica Mintz
Thursday, July 24, 2008
SEATTLE, July 23 -- Microsoft on Wednesday said Kevin Johnson, the executive in charge of its Windows and Web operations and an instrumental player in the company's failed $47.5 billion bid to buy Yahoo, is leaving the company.
After a short transition, Johnson will step into the role of chief executive at Juniper Networks, a networking hardware maker, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Juniper had not yet announced Johnson's appointment.
Johnson has served since 2005 as president of Microsoft's platforms and services division, which included the Windows operating system and Windows Live programs such as Web e-mail and instant messaging. The division also included online advertising, search and Microsoft's MSN sites.
Johnson, who joined Microsoft in 1992, has been the public face for the company's search and online advertising strategy, meant to help the company catch market leader Google.
It was Johnson who laid out Microsoft's aggressive goals last November that included capturing 30 percent of U.S. search queries.
Over the past year, as it became clear that Microsoft's internal search and advertising efforts were not propelling the company forward fast enough, Johnson was at chief executive Steve Ballmer's side while Microsoft attempted to buy Yahoo outright and, when that failed, to buy the Internet portal's search operations.
He also led the $6 billion acquisition of online advertising company aQuantive in 2007. Incorporating aQuantive has boosted Microsoft's Web ad revenue, but not enough to put the software maker in league with Google.
Last week, Microsoft said its online business lost $488 million in the quarter, more than double its year-ago loss, and announced hundreds of millions of new spending to try to turn the operations around.
Microsoft says the platforms and services division will be split in two, with heads of the groups reporting directly to Ballmer. The newly formed Windows/Windows Live division will be led by senior vice presidents Steven Sinofsky, Jon DeVaan and Bill Veghte.
Microsoft said it will search for a new leader for its online services business. In the interim, senior vice presidents Satya Nadella and Brian McAndrews will remain in charge of engineering and advertiser and publisher solutions.