RealTime IT News

Microsoft Loses a 'Chairman'

Microsoft won't have Doug Burgum to kick back and forth onto airplanes anymore.

Burgum said today he would leave at the end of Microsoft's fiscal year, in June 2007, instead of taking on the title of chairman of Microsoft's Business Solutions (MBS) division.

Burgum's replacement will be Satya Nadella, a 14-year veteran who was already a vice president in the Business Solutions division, Microsoft said..

Burgum announced last year that he was stepping away from his position as senior vice president of the Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) division.

At the time, he said he would kick himself upstairs, remaining with the company in the newly-created role of "chairman," where he was to continue championing the Dynamics product line he helped fashion.

Burgum lives with his three children in Fargo, North Dakota, and apparently could no longer stomach the commute to Redmond, Washington.

Burgum said he came to this decision last week and discussed it with CEO Steve Ballmer and Microsoft Business Division president Jeff Raikes on Friday.

"But that doesn't change how I expect to spend my time over the next nine months," he said.

The change may not go over well with MBS partners and customers.

Joe Wilcox, an analyst with JupiterKagan, described Burgum as a passionate, Steve Jobs-like figure who represented his division in a way that other group leaders don't.

"Customers and partners have a more emotional relationship to him," Wilcox told internetnews.com.

Burgum came to Microsoft in 2001 when it acquired mid-market software company Great Plains, where he was chairman and CEO.

In 2002, he spearheaded MBS's acquisition of Danish mid-market software vendor Navision and then oversaw the development of the Dynamics line of business applications.

After several difficult years, the division seems to have turned a corner.

It reported that revenues grew 17 percent to $920 million, and that it turned a profit for the first time in 2006.

Laura DiDio, who follows Microsoft for the Yankee Group, applauded the choice of Nadella, as Burgum's replacement.

She noted that Microsoft needs to provide a balance of stability and career growth opportunities in order to retain strong executives, she noted.

"This is exactly the type of person that Microsoft needs to promote," she told internetnews.com.

Raikes said that Nadella's background in hosted solutions makes him a good fit to follow through on the division's on-demand strategy.

Nadella said that under his leadership, MBS will focus on providing customers and partners with a choice of on-premise and on-demand solutions.

"One of the key challenges we're going to have to take on is to provide symmetry between the architecture of these two products so that you can have migration from Live to on-premise and provide that flexibility to the IT community and to customers," he told internetnews.com during a conference call this morning.