Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

MSN Changes Afoot?

According to several sources, more restructuring is about to hit Microsoft’s online division, as various departments are moved among and between its top execs, with changes to be announced as early as today.

While BoomTown is still gathering information, it looks like longtime Microsoft exec Yusuf Mehdi (pictured here), who is now in charge of marketing, online audience business development and product management for MSN and the search properties, will get more added to his portfolio, including overall business development for the online properties.

Mehdi, whose current title is SVP of the Online Audience Business, could also eventually get purview over programming for MSN too, said several sources.

Both those business units currently (and somewhat inexplicably) report to Satya Nadella, the SVP who heads engineering for Microsoft’s search, portal and advertising platform group.

Nadella and Mehdi are the two key execs who report to Qi Lu, a former Yahoo tech star who was recently hired as president of Microsoft’s online services group

What that means for MSN’s Corporate VP Erik Jorgensen and the GM of its Global Media Group, Greg Nelson, who report to Nadella, is unclear.

But it appears that the Microsoft (MSFT) online group is essentially being split into two clear parts: Engineering, and business and content operations.

Advertising sales, which had previously been under now-departed Microsoft exec Brian McAndrews, has been moved to Microsoft’s centralized Sales, Marketing and Services Group, led by chief operating officer Kevin Turner.

The changes are interesting, given all the behind-the-scenes talks that are now going on between Microsoft and Yahoo (YHOO) and Time Warner (TWX) online unit AOL over their search and search advertising businesses.

Microsoft has been seeking to take over search for both Yahoo and AOL, with its CEO Steve Ballmer recently in talks with both companies, in order to give it a decent market share in its ongoing quest to compete with Google (GOOG) in search.

Right now, Google dominates that market with an over 70 percent share, while Microsoft has just under 10 percent.

Microsoft is announcing its second-quarter earnings today, and many expect it to also announce layoffs, due to the tough economic environment.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google