Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

The Entire MSN Rejiggering Memo

Why settle for less, when you can have the whole enchilada?

Thus, here is the entire MSN rejiggering internal memo BoomTown wrote about earlier today.

It was penned by Greg Nelson, head of the MSN Global Media Group, who reveals in it–interestingly–that he has not yet filled the job of U.S. Executive Producer of Microsoft’s consumer online service.

But it does outline a series of chair-changings at the unit, which has struggled over the years to make a dent in the consumer online space.

Also, a note to “note taker” at the Town Hall meeting next Tuesday at Microsoft (MSFT) HQ to discuss the changes, who is mentioned below: You can email me those meeting notes you are apparently taking here at kara@allthings.com and I promise not to tell anyone (well, to tell you the truth, I will tell everyone).

In any case, here is the whole memo:

From: Greg Nelson (MSN)
Sent: Friday, November 21, 2008 1:57 PM
To: Global Media Group Leadership Team; Worldwide EP Team; MSN Leadership Team; Online Audience Business Group FTE; Bill Shaughnessy Extended Directs; MSN US Media ALL
Cc: Erik Jorgensen’s Direct Reports; Satya Nadella; Yusuf Mehdi
Subject: MSN US Team


I am pleased to announce a new organizational structure for the US Media Group as well as the leaders who will fill these roles. I have spent considerable time with the US leaders over the past few months to hear their views on how to meet the challenges and opportunities we have, and I believe this leadership structure positions us for success in our near-term goals as well as our long-term strategy.

MSN US Media Leadership Team

The US Media Leadership Team will be structured as follows:

The group will be led by the US Executive Producer. I am evaluating a very strong field of both internal and external candidates for this role; until the role is filled I will continue to act as the interim US EP. Each of the leaders and teams in the structure share the overall network goal to grow network audience, engagement and revenue. But each has a unique commitment and responsibility toward that goal, as follows:

  • Network Programming, led by Rob Bennett–This group will prioritize investments against Network priorities, shape audience strategy, set Network standards, and sponsor cross-network initiatives.
  • Network Entry Points, led by Steve Cvengros–This group will focus on increasing exposure, distribution and discoverability of assets by optimizing and expanding entry points to the Network.
  • Vertical Programming, led by Sandy Henson–This group will create content experiences to deeply engage the audience and grow Network value in vertical areas. All channels will move into this group.
  • Monetization and Analytics, led by Dell Wilkinson–This group will focus on improving yield by making MSN easier for advertisers to buy and APS to sell through inventory insights and APS engagement.
  • Chief of Staff, Eva Corets–This role is responsible for driving team processes and business rhythm, and assisting with prioritization of network projects and interaction with cross-division and cross-Microsoft teams.

In addition, Charles Tillinghast (President and Publisher of MSNBC.com) will continue to report directly to the US Executive Producer. The US Media Group will also have a close “dotted-line” partnership with Javier De Lucas and the US Planning Team and a new US R&D leader in the Global Market Delivery Team (to be hired). In addition to running the Global Business Development team for MSN, James McClamroch will also be a member of the US Media Group Leadership Team.

As I mentioned above, all of the channels will move into the Vertical Programming Team. I want to thank Lisa Tiedt, Mark Schnitzer and Scott Ehlers for their leadership of their respective teams, and for their contribution to the US Senior Leadership Team over the past 18 months. They remain an integral part of our organization and will continue to work with their teams and the new US Leads to ensure a smooth transition.

Next steps:

Each of the new network leaders will send follow-on mail soon to give more detail about their groups.

We will be holding an informal Town Hall meeting on Tuesday at 9:00 am in C/1089 to discuss these changes, for the leads to provide more details on their group priorities, and to give you a chance to ask any questions you may have. For those of you who are not able to attend, we will have a note taker and will distribute a recap after the meeting. In the meantime, please feel free to connect with your current manager, or any of the new leaders, to discuss any ideas and comments, or a specific interest you have in these newly defined areas.

Our goal is to finalize the new organizational structure quickly, while allowing enough time for the new leaders to sort out the remaining issues on how their teams work together and ensuring that each employee can be thoughtfully considered for new roles. I have asked the new leaders to make these design and employee discussions their top priority for the next two weeks, and we will send an update on our progress on December 17.

We plan to enter this new org structure in January (at which time we hope that office moves will be kept to a minimum). In the meantime, you will continue to report to your current manager and should keep driving toward your existing commitments. If you change managers in January, your current manager will be responsible for providing input to your mid-year career discussion and ensuring a smooth transition.

The US leaders and I believe this organizational structure will help us to deliver the best results for our business and offer great opportunities for our people. Even in our current challenging environment, it’s important to remember that Microsoft’s resource investment in MSN has never been greater than it is today. I’m inspired by the talent, passion and vision of the US team, and I want to thank you for your commitment to MSN.

Please join me in congratulating Rob, Steve, Sandy, and Dell in their new roles!

Thanks –

greg nelson . general manager global media group

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik