Microsoft Loses Two More Longtime Vets From Developer Evangelist Team


Microsoft, which saw popular developer evangelist Jeff Sandquist jump ship to Twitter last month, has lost two more members of its Developer and Platform Evangelism (DPE) unit, CRN has learned.

Eric Schmidt, senior director of consumer applications evangelism at Microsoft, left last week after 15 years at the company, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Scott Kerfoot, senior director of technology evangelism and a 12-year Microsoft veteran, followed him to the exits this week, sources told CRN.

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Microsoft formed DPE in 2001 with a goal of getting software developers excited about building apps using Microsoft tools. DPE has played an important role over the years, and it's seen as a key part of Microsoft's transition to devices and services. With Schmidt and Kerfoot gone, DPE now has some holes to fill.

"These are pretty heavy hitters who've been down in the trenches with developers. They're not C-levels, but there is a lot of talent that just got scattered to different companies," Scott Stanfield, CEO of Vertigo Software, a Richmond, Calif.-based Microsoft partner, told CRN Thursday.

Microsoft would not confirm or comment on Schmidt and Kerfoot's departures when contacted by CRN Thursday. It's not clear where Schmidt and Kerfoot are headed.

Schmidt, on his LinkedIn profile, says his role includes "managing the technical architecture and development of Microsoft's strategic consumer application partners for media & entertainment, social and gaming verticals."

In May, Schmidt was named to DPE's "deep tech" team, which was tasked with recruiting non-Microsoft developers to build next-generation apps using Microsoft tools. Schmidt told ZDNet in May that one of his goals was to recruit iOS and Android developers to build Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps.

Schmidt was also the public face for Microsoft Silverlight technology, which was used to stream video online for the Beijing Olympics and the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Since then, however, Microsoft has effectively killed off Silverlight in favor of HTML5.

Kerfoot, a field DPE rep based in Southern California, describes himself on his LinkedIn profile as a manager of "the best technology evangelists in the world focusing on Microsoft's core developer and infrastructure technologies."

Sandquist, Microsoft's senior director of developer relationships and a 16-year company veteran, left last month to become Twitter's director of platform partnerships.

People leave technology vendors all the time. But, the DPE departures are notable because Microsoft has always been a developer-focused company, and it needs developers to build Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps. Microsoft is also courting cloud developers for its Windows Azure platform-as-a-service.

While it's not clear why these three well-known DPE figures decided to leave, the massive organizational changes going on at Microsoft, and uncertainty over who's going to be taking over for the departing Steve Ballmer, probably had something to do with it.

PUBLISHED OCT. 10, 2013