Arik Hesseldahl

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Head Of Microsoft's Servers And Business Unit Leaving This Summer

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced today in an email to employees that Bob Muglia, the company’s head of its Servers and Tools Business Bob Muglia will be leaving this summer. No replacement has been named. And I’m told by a source familiar that Muglia is not leaving for another job.

Muglia is a 22-year Microsoft veteran who joined from Rolm in 1988 and was the first product manager for SQL Server. The news comes as Microsoft announced a preview of its next generation Enterprise Resource Planning, Dynamics AX 6. I’m told there’s no connection between the timing of the two.

Muglia would be the third division head to leave Microsoft in recent memory. The others are Stephen Elop who left to run Nokia last year, and Robbie Bach, who ran Microsoft’s entertainment division.

Muglia only been elevated to the job two years ago, nearly to the day. The Server and Tools Business is at $14.9 billion in annual revenue (fiscal 2010) Microsoft’s third largest division behind the Windows/Windows Live Division and and the Microsoft Business Division, both of which reported revenues north of $18 billion in 2010. On Muglia’s watch sales at STB grew more than 12 percent, and its operating margins went from 31 percent in 2008 to 37 percent in 2010. However, STB is nowhere near as profitable as the other two divisions: Business Division reported operating margins of 63 percent in 2010 while Windows saw 70 percent. Ballmer says in his memo that he’s eager to see stronger growth from STB.

Muglia is described by people I’ve talked to as a capable, well-respected manager who has over the years weathered the various corporate storms that have hit him, and usually come out on top. In 2002 for instance, he was replaced as the head of Microsoft’s .Net initiative. Reports at the time said he had requested the change out of frustration with the business model. By 2003 he was running the Windows Server Division and in 2005 was tapped to run STB as a senior vice president. He’s also been the key executive on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform.

Ballmer’s memo to Microsoft employees is below.

From: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2011
To: Microsoft – All Employees
Subject: STB – Building on Success, Moving Forward

There are very few $15B businesses in the software industry, and Microsoft is the only company that has built three of them. While Windows and Office are household words, our Server and Tools Business has quietly and steadily grown to be the unquestioned leader in server computing. We have driven the industry forward and established the foundation for an entire generation of business applications. We have overcome significant competitive challenges. Over the past twenty years, the outstanding leadership from everyone involved in STB has made it a $15B business today.

We are now ready to build on our success and move forward into the era of cloud computing. Once again, Microsoft and our STB team are defining the future of business computing. In October, we completed an incredibly successful PDC where we detailed the future of the cloud, outlining Platform as a Service and demonstrating the rapid advancement of Windows Azure.

The best time to think about change is when you are in a position of strength, and that’s where we are today with STB – leading the server business, successful with our developer tools, and poised to lead the rapidly emerging cloud future. Bob Muglia and I have been talking about the overall business and what is needed to accelerate our growth. In this context, I have decided that now is the time to put new leadership in place for STB. This is simply recognition that all businesses go through cycles and need new and different talent to manage through those cycles. Bob has been a phenomenal partner throughout this process, and he and his leadership team have the right strategy in place.

In conjunction with this leadership change, Bob has decided to leave Microsoft this summer. He will continue to actively run STB as I conduct an internal and external search for the new leader. Bob will onboard the new leader and will also complete additional projects for me.

Bob has been a founder and leader of our server business from its earliest inception. He has led our Developer, Office, and Mobile Devices Divisions, and key parts of Windows NT and our Online Services business. I’ve worked with him in many capacities over the years and I’ve always appreciated his customer focus, technical depth, people leadership skills, and his positive energy. I want to thank Bob for his hard work, many accomplishments, and his focus on putting Microsoft first for 23 years.

We enter this new decade with STB providing the platform for today’s business solutions, and uniquely well-positioned to drive the future of cloud computing. I believe STB will continue to lead the industry with outstanding products and services for our customers and exceptional results for our business.


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