Microsoft is revamping its sales and marketing operations in the wake of the resignation of COO Kevin Turner, a former Walmart executive who was a holdover from the Steve Ballmer era. As he becomes CEO of Citadel Securities, a Chicago-based “market maker” trading firm, Microsoft is eliminating his position and will elevate five executives into “one unified senior leadership team,” CEO Satya Nadella reveals in an email to employees.
Turner, 51, who will stay through the end of the month to help in the transition, is “considered by a number of current and former Microsoft employees as one of the most polarizing figures at Microsoft,” Mary Jo Foley writes in her lede for ZDNet. Others would say “voluble.” Whichever, he oversaw more than 51,000 employees in 191 countries as the head of the organization’s sales, field, marketing and services organizations, as well as its partner channel.
“His role was less that of a typical COO and more that of sales chief,” observes Ina Fried for Recode. “ He was responsible for the sales of every Microsoft product, from its dominant Windows personal computer operating system to its Xbox game console to its Web-based, on-demand Azure service used by corporate customers,” writes Jay Greene for the Wall Street Journal.
Turner “was known for fiery pep talks at events like the company’s annual worldwide partner conference where he incited Microsoft’s army of resellers to help the company beat Google, Amazon and other rivals in the field,” Fortune’s Barb Darrow points out, reminding us that he also was also Microsoft’s highest paid executive for years.
“He built the sales force into the strategic asset it is today with incredible talent while at the same time more than doubling our revenue and driving customer satisfaction scores to the highest in company history,” is Nadella’s assessment.
Under the new configuration:
Judson Althoff will lead the worldwide commercial business, which will focus on commercial segments including EPG, public sector, SMS&P, DX and services.
Jean-Philippe Courtois will lead global sales, marketing and operations, which span all of Microsoft’s 13 areas across its North America and international businesses as well as the global marketing and operations organization.
Chris Capossela will lead the worldwide marketing and consumer business, which includes CCG, MSA and PSM, OEM, and Microsoft retail stores, in addition to his current worldwide marketing team.
Kurt DelBene will now also lead IT and operations, in addition to corporate strategy.
Amy Hood will now also lead the current SMSG finance team.
Althoff and Courtois will report directly to Nadella.
“They have yet to figure out how the worldwide marketing and operations team will report, given that they will share responsibility for it in future,” Peter Sayer writes for PC World. “Nadella hinted that Microsoft’s subsidiaries around the world might be granted more autonomy in the way they do business.”
“I only see it as being a good thing for the channel,” Rick Jordan, director of mobility sales at Toronto-based Tenet Computer Group, tellsCRN’s Kyle Alspach and Lindsey O'Donnell about the reorganization. “At the end of the day, it’s five people laser-focused on various segments of the partner program. I’m hoping from a partner standpoint they’ll do a good job listening to partners. I think they’ll be able to achieve actions quicker within Microsoft.”
Indeed, “it’s very important to have ‘one feedback loop’ across all parts of the company with customer value and satisfaction at the center. This means we must operate, learn and continuously improve collectively,” Nadella says in explaining his decision to “deeply integrate the current SMSG organization into the rest of Microsoft and form one unified senior leadership team.
Turner, who joined Microsoft in 2005, was among those seen as a potential successor to Ballmer, who left the company in 2014.
“He was not chosen as Ballmer’s successor, and it’s interesting that it has been this long that he chose to leave,” Forrester analyst Frank Gillett tells the New York Times’ Nick Wingfield and Alexandra Stevenson.
Turner’s appointment at Citadel comes as it’s “building up market positions in equities and fixed income markets once occupied by banks,” writes Philip Stafford for Financial Times. “Many banks, hit by more stringent regulatory capital rules, have been focusing a narrower set of business lines. In their place, non-bank market makers have emerged, using computers to automatically price trades at lightning speed.”
Citadel is the largest among them. Turner is out of selling the cloud and into automated rainmaking.