Microsoft Names Nadella To Head New Search And Ad Platform Group

In addition, Tami Reller, a Great Plains veteran and currently corporate vice president of MBS, will serve as acting leader of the Microsoft Dynamics group, reporting directly to Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division.

MBS, which fields ERP and CRM applications, is part of the overall Microsoft Business Division, which also includes Office applications.

Nadella is slated to transition into his new role by April 19, according to Microsoft.

The move stands to raise eyebrows among MBS watchers because Nadella was named to his MBS role just six months ago after a long and public executive search. Doug Burgum, senior vice president of MBS, is leaving at the end of the fiscal year in June.

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In his new role, Nadella, a corporate vice president, will report to Kevin Johnson, president of the Platform Services Division. Nadella will be assisted in his role by Harry Shum, which was named chief scientist of the new Search and Platform Group.

Search is a closely scrutinized category for Microsoft, which is battling an entrenched incumbent market leader in Google, with so-so results thus far. Microsoft said a key objective of the organizational move is to align search and ad platform efforts under one research-and-development leader. Despite a huge investment by Microsoft, Google has managed to keep growing its Web search market share. Google's share in the U.S. Web search segment climbed to 48.1 percent in February from 47.5 percent in January.

Christopher Payne, who had headed Microsoft Search, left for a startup earlier this month. That news broke just after Microsoft confirmed that Blake Irving, who led Windows Live, would leave this summer.

"We knew of [Payne's] plans for awhile and thought about the right way to take the investments we've made to a new level in search and commerce. Certainly, Christopher's career decision was a catalyst," Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, told CRN in an interview Wednesday.

Asked why the change in Nadella's status wasn't announced last week to thousands of MBS partners and customers at Convergence in San Diego, Reller said all the pieces weren't in place at the time.

"[MBS] has an incredibly strong bench, both in breadth and depth," Reller said. "We absolutely will miss Satya, but as a leadership team, we feel very good about the strategy and road map."