Juniper Networks exec to succeed Microsoft Business Division President Raikes

Juniper Networks exec to succeed Microsoft Business Division President Raikes

Summary: In what I consider surprising timing, Microsoft announced on January 10 that one of its three corporate presidents, Jeff Raikes, is retiring in September 2008. Raikes will be succeeded by Stephen Elop, who until today was chief operating officer at Juniper Networks.


In what I consider surprising timing, Microsoft announced on January 10 that one of its three corporate presidents, Jeff Raikes, is retiring in September 2008.

Juniper Networks exec to succeed Microsoft Business Division President RaikesRaikes will be succeeded by Stephen Elop, who until today was chief operating officer at Juniper Networks, according to a Microsoft statement. Elop will oversee the Microsoft Business Division, the group Raikes currently leads, which includes the Information Worker (Microsoft Office), Unified Communications and Microsoft Business Solutions (ERP/CRM) groups.

Why do I consider the announcement about Raikes surprising? If I were Microsoft, I wouldn't want a lot of churn during the year that Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates is discontinuing his day-to-day duties at the company as of July 1.  hanging up his CSA hat and remaining Chairman only

(My mistake: Even though Gates still is quite involved in product/strategy decisions, he hasn't been Chief Software Architect on paper since 2006. )

Another reason I consider the Raikes announcement timing odd: Why announce Raikes' departure a day after acknowledging the defection of your mergers and acquisitions chief Bruce Jaffe? You could make the argument that Microsoft wants to get all its defection/churn announcements out of the way at once. But I'm not sure I'd look at things the same way, if I were one of the company's "image makers"....

Microsoft also announced on January 10 that Bob Muglia, the Senior Vice President in charge of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business, is going to move out of the Business Division and report directly to CEO Steve Ballmer.

One Microsoft watcher, Robert Helm of Kirkland, Wash.-based Directions on Microsoft, was upbeat about the news. Helm's opinion on the Raikes announcement:

"This is a good time for (Raikes) to move on -- the business is doing well, there's time for the new guy to influence the future direction of Office, and the Bill Gates transition is done. Raikes gets credit for keeping the Office business moving along, diversifying it into servers, and handling Server & Tools (along with Bob Muglia) so that Kevin Johnson could focus on the online strategy.

"The new hire (Elop) seems to have the right background to pull off one of the big strategic efforts in Raikes' business: Positioning Office and SharePoint not just as products that are used out of the box, but as platforms for application development."

Raikes has been emphasizing over the past few months the extent to which Microsoft is betting on unified communications as what will drive the company's business-productivity unit in the coming years. Given that emphasis, the company's decision to go outside in choosing Raikes' successor makes makes more sense.

Microsoft explains Elop's qualifications this way:

"With his experience and record of success at Juniper, Adobe, Macromedia, and other leading companies, Stephen Elop is uniquely qualified to step in for Jeff (Raikes) and lead MBD (Microsoft Business Division). Stephen’s experience spanning collaboration tools, digital media, and most recently, network infrastructure fit extremely well with the charter of the Microsoft Business Division which focuses on the key areas of focus in business solutions and services for productivity, unified communications, and more."

What's your take? Surprised Microsoft went outside for one of its inner circle rather than naming one of Raikes' lieutenants to the role? Or do you think it makes sense for Microsoft to look to a networking powerhouse for a new president?

Topics: Software, Collaboration, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Will it bring forward movement?

    Maybe the Microsoft Business Solutions division will finally get integrated into the Microsoft culture. The GP team, after almost eight years, still feels like a separate company using separate tools, people, processes, etc. What ever happend to GP being the premier .NET business application? It's far from that today with the latest release being nothing more than lipstick on a pig.
  • Only the press cares...

    You know, the average user really doesn't care about who works at MS. In fact very, very few IT people care. I would bet you that if you asked 100 people "in the business" to name just the division presidents and the MS VPs they wouldn't get 10% of them.

    All this really amounts to is foder for the press on a slow day...
  • Mr. Raikes, a true visionary....

    My rep broke the news to me over a fine lunch at Yarrow's. I was well into the salad course when he said Mr. Raikes was retiring. Immediately, my chilled fork hit the plate with a resounding chime. My rep told me not to worry, the next MBD head would be out of this world, from another planet. At a time of such innovation, when the world is under siege from Macs, Linux and the enter *pod culture, we need leaders like Mr. Raikes to bring us "killer" applications. I will never forget when I met "good ole JR" (as I used to call him!). He once took me to the side at a TechEd and said to me "he who laughs last uses Word!".
    Mike Cox
    • If you use Word you will be last

      Just venting my frustration with Word. It is such a pain.
    • Bravo! I call that

      a perfect "10"!
    • Classic Cox - bravo !

      "Immediately my chilled fork hit the plate"...

      Genius, sheer genius :-). Thanks Mike !

    • 9.5...Not a "10" But Close Enuff

      Had to deduct .5 points for glaring omission of the WORD "first" from your Witty Bitty Word Diatribe:

      " he who laughs last uses Word!"

      Could've read:

      " he who laughs last uses Word first!"
  • Message has been deleted.

  • Message has been deleted.

  • What a revelation. Thanks for such great reporting. (omg!)

    There is turnover in every company. I guess, again, there was nothing really for M-JO to write so she picks yet another no-topic topic.
  • Microsoft has "image makers"?

    Wow! I wouldn't have guessed it. Maybe THEY'RE the ones who should be replaced.
    • So That's What The MS Paintbrush Application Was For!

      Seems all ya gotta do is over-paint by the numbers huh?
      Who'da thunk it?!
  • Rats abandoning a sinking ship?

    With mediocre Vista sales, bad decisions and the publicity to go with those bad decisions, maybe some see trouble ahead and are moving to safer waters.

    In any case, Microsoft needs to re-examine their product line, and how they do business.
    linux for me
    • That is a stretch

      Then Red Hat's CEO stepping down would be considered the same thing? How about the news that some of the upper Google heads have left to run other companies? Big trouble ahead for Google? Maybe day to day operations of running a company a large as Microsoft is something a 50 year old with money does not need to do anymore?
  • The real scoop...

    This is not about bringing in external management for a new focus on "unified messaging". What a load. This is internal fallout for huge missteps in recent products, most notable Vista. No, Raikes is not in charge of Windows...*but*...the timing of releases was off this last cycle - and usually they cross-sell each other. I imagine Raikes doled out some heat across the hall for those who bungled the Vista product - and the timing of product releases - thereby making his ability to sell Office harder.

    Think about it...people associate Windows *XP* and Office *XP*...that was fine when M$ wanted to cross-sell back then...but *now*, it'll be a hard time to disassociate and tell them that even though they are fine with staying on Windows *XP*, they should upgrade off Office *XP* to the next version.

    Furthermore...this acrimony has not been uni-directional: the dung has been flung back at the Office team for not getting a compelling upgrade ready in time for releasing near the Vista release, to help give a (much-needed) reason to update to Vista.

    Folks...what you are seeing here is classic internal finger-pointing all around the executive table...and along with it, disagreement about how to move forward to rectify things for the future.
    • PFFT...

      Your crystal ball has a dingle-berry hanging off it.

      Office 2007 has been hugely successful, especially when compared against Vista. Makes no sense to fire Raikes when he had nothing to do with Vista.

      Go buy a clue.
    • Nah, but there is something else

      I don't associate Office XP with Windows XP. But I do associate turning off backward compatibility with trying to squash the online threat from Google Docs and compatible suites like OpenOffice. And I would say that MSoft is not where they want to be in terms of the next version of Office, if they want releases every 18 months and online functionality in the successor to Ofc 2007.
  • leaving the sinking ship

    Folks, the oficcers are leaving the ship!
    I'm wondering if cpt. Ballmer will be the last, or he would pass the command to some other sucker.
    It looks like Gate$ is using the cover of a non profit for its illicit activities because it works better than being the face of M$.
    Linux has prevailed!
    Linux Geek
    • "Linux has prevailed!"

      I'm positive I read this exact message here back in the late 90s quite a few times.

      Must be copy/paste job. Always good times.
  • Past time to Replace Ballmer

    Now would seem the ideal time to allow Ballmer to go off and revive his vaudeville act as a monkey replacement in yellow pants and blue shirt.

    Give his disasterous reign at MSFT (Xbox, WM, Vista, Zune) it is time to find someone who can actually deliver the Wow instead of marketing a shadow.

    The Redmond Bloatfarm needs MORE rather than less change, real change rather than paper-over change.

    The fortress defense problems at MSFT will not go away until the Bleatmeister is replaced.
    Jeremy W