Microsoft Confirms Executive Changes With Reller, Bates Out The Door

Today Microsoft confirmed the raft of executive changes that leaked yesterday. Senior executives Tony Bates and Tami Reller will exit the company, Mark Penn will move to a more ‘strategic’ role away from advertising, and the company’s ad efforts will be headed by Chris Capossela, who will be the executive vice president of marketing. Eric Rudder will take Bates’ job on an interim basis.

Head spinning? Let me help: Bates was passed over for the CEO role and wants to go run something of his own. Mark Penn is a divisive figure who just lost control of Microsoft’s advertising budget. So, Scroogled might finally be dead. Microsoft is bringing all its advertising work into a single role, so, to quote CEO Satya Nadella: “Tami Reller agrees with the go-forward approach of a single marketing leader and will support Chris through his transition into his new role. She will then take time off and pursue other interests outside the company.”

It would appear that she became internally redundant. For more context on the moves, what it means for Microsoft and the like, head here.

The missive from Nadella, given his new title, is worthy of scrutiny. He begins with a call for complete dedication:

I have discussed this point in various forms with the SLT and have asked for their “all in” commitment as we embark on the next chapter for the company. We need to drive clarity, alignment and intensity across all our work.

And concludes with a paean to teamwork:

Lastly, I wanted to share a final thought from a book I recently finished about the University of Washington rowing team that won the Olympics in 1936 that was written by Daniel James Brown, who worked at Microsoft for over a decade. It’s a great story of how commitment, determination, and optimism among groups can create history. There is a very evocative description in the book about a team of rowers working together at the highest level – he calls it “the swing of the boat”:

“There is a thing that sometimes happens in rowing that is hard to achieve and hard to define. Many crews, even winning crews, never really find it. Others find it but can’t sustain it. It’s called ‘swing.’ It only happens when all eight oarsmen are rowing in such perfect unison that no single action by any one is out of synch with those of all the others….Poetry, that’s what a good swing looks like.”

As a company, as a leadership team, as individuals, that is our goal – to find our swing. As an SLT and across the company we are on our way.

Microsoft working together in harmony? Sacrebleu, what an idea.