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Bob Muglia Leaves Microsoft

by Abel Avram on Jan 11, 2011 |

Bob Muglia, a Microsoft veteran and president, has decided to leave Microsoft after Steve Ballmer’s decision to change him from leading the STB division.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, has announced that Bob Muglia, President of the Server and Tools Business (STB), will leave the company. After mentioning the unit’s growth over the year, Ballmer talks about its future and the need to “accelerate our growth”, adding that this lead him to the decision to “put new leadership in place for STB”. It is unclear why Muglia could not lead the unit in the future, having lead it very successfully in the past, perhaps due to a different vision from Ballmer’s on what is to be done, especially regarding accelerated development in cloud computing which Microsoft’s CEO mentioned.

Following Ballmer’s decision to change the STB leadership, Muglia decided to “leave Microsoft this summer.” He will continue to fulfill the position’s responsibilities until Ballmer finds someone else to take charge of this important unit which includes Azure.

Bob Muglia is a Microsoft veteran who joined the company back in its youth when Microsoft was a “brilliant, yet awkward and aggressive adolescent riding a rocket ship”, as Muglia described it in an internal memo to the employees. He was the “founder and leader of our server business from its earliest inception”, said Steve Ballmer about Muglia in a public email sent to all Microsoft employees. He led “our Developer, Office, and Mobile Devices Divisions, and key parts of Windows NT and our Online Services business,” being promoted to president in January 2009.

Muglia lead the Server and Tools Business unit which grew over time. He seems confident there is nothing to be reproached to him:

As a leader at Microsoft, I have a responsibility for delivering results to our shareholders. STB has performed well - from $9.7B in 2006 before I took over, to $14.9B reported last July, and operating income climbing from $3B to $5.5B over the same period. That’s over a 50% increase in revenue with a near doubling in income. That growth continued during the first quarter of our FY11. There are few organizations in the industry who have demonstrated the same results.

Muglia also said he is not “afraid to admit a mistake and change a decision when it is wrong” and to “apologize when I have not lived up to these principles [integrity, honesty, admitting mistakes]”. He did so when he apologized for the “controversy and confusion” created at PDC 2010 when he said that Microsoft’s strategy regarding Silverlight "has shifted”. Many clients wondered what will be the future of Silverlight, but Microsoft came with clarifications that Silverlight would remain their main option for client development, and providing a roadmap for Silverlight 5. It is unknown if Muglia’s statement at PDC 2010 had any influence on Ballmer’s decision to remove him from a very high executive position inside Microsoft.

Muglia is yet another executive to leave Microsoft in the past year. Ray Ozzie, Microsoft Chief Software Architect, left Microsoft in October 2010. Stephen Elop, President of the Business Division, left Microsoft to become Nokia’s CEO in September 2010. Robbie Bach, head of the Entertainment and Devices unit, announced to leave Microsoft in May last year.  

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This is a concern by Mike Gale

I get the impression that Ballmer is a very different from Gates.

Gates apparently was quite happy to work with people who had different ideas to his as long as they had thought through thoroughly. Ballmer makes up his mind and tolerates few differing opinons.

Gates held a huge amount of technical detail in RAM. Ballmer can't.

Ozzie, Muglia... Are these signs of a decaying management ethos?

Re: This is a concern by Brian Edwards

This seems to be more of a Business Week story. Sounds like a good sales man though.

Pioneers get old and get tired. I imagine that working for a very large corporation such as MS only accelerates this..."Did you get the memo about TPS reports?"

Although I've lost hope in and pretty much abandoned anything MS produces (fool me once (Win95), fool me twice(Win98), fool me thrice(WinXP & Outlook), etc) I do respect Bill Gate's rise to dominance. He is obviously a tech and business genius. Mr. Gates, Mr. Jobs, Mr. Page & Mr. Brin each had a vision and executed it. I can't say I see Mr. Ballmer's vision. OK I'm just ranting now. Back to work.

Re: This is a concern by Mike Gale

To continue what seems off topic, but isn't.

Like you I had a low opinion of some of the consumer OS's. My solution was to go to server OS's for my work.

Now I've got a Windows 7 machine too. I must say that I'm impressed after keeping away from everything from XP forward.

Now that came about on Ballmer's watch, so the picture is more complex, than a simple comment can convey. (And this point is not unrelated, I think, to the Muglia situation!)

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