John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Former Powerset CEO Leaves Microsoft After Natural Language Job Search

Barney Pell, Microsoft’s Chief Architect for Local Search, has left the company for a new gig in the venture capital world. “Yesterday was my last day at Microsoft,” Pell said in a tweet earlier this week. “I’m now back to full-time angel investor and parallel entrepreneur!”

Pell, who joined Microsoft in 2008 — when it acquired Powerset, his natural language search start-up — spent the past three years leading its effort to add a better understanding of the intent and meaning behind words in searches and Web pages.

And now he’s moved on, becoming another name on a growing list of managerial departures from Microsoft that includes Simon Witts, head of the company’s enterprise and partner group, and Linda Zecher, its coprorate VP of the worldwide public sector.

Notably, all three defections occured in the last month. What’s going on? That’s tough to say, though ZDnet’s Mary Jo Foley has an interesting theory: Windows Division boss Steve Sinofsky’s growing influence on Microsoft’s management processes, and a culture that is beginning to favor specialists over generalists.


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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