Former Microsoft search leader resurfaces at eBay

Christopher Payne, Microsoft's former search chief, has sold his Seattle-based startup Positronic to eBay. Positronic was involved in machine-learning and data-mining.

Two years ago, when Microsoft's search and advertising unit was even more of a revolving door than now, two long-time managers, Christopher Pane and Dane Glasgow, parted ways with Microsoft.

(Payne was Microsoft's search chief -- when the company's search engine was known as "Windows Live Search" (not just Live Search); Glasgow was General Manager of Live Search.)

In January, Payne resurfaced -- as an eBay employee.

After leaving Microsoft Payne founded a Seattle startup known as Positronic Inc. Positronic is all about machine-learning and data-mining -- everything from natural-language processing and scalable databases, to cognitive algorithms and distributed grid computing/parallel computing.

Payne is listed, as of January 2009, on LinkedIn as a vice president with eBay. On Payne's profile, it says: "Positronic was acquired by eBay in December 2008."

Glasgow also was involved with Positronic and will be joining eBay, as well, according to my tipster. (I've been unable to verify this part of the tip so far.)

I've contacted eBay for more information on its plans for Positronic and its executives. I'll update this post if and when I hear back.

Update: Courtesy of a January 8 post to the eBay blog:

"I can confirm reports that Christopher Payne, co-founder of Positronic, Inc., has joined eBay as VP of Search. Additionally, Positronic co-founder Dane Glasgow has joined eBay as VP of Engineering. I can also confirm that eBay has acquired Positronic to help with efforts at leveraging machine learning to provide a more predictive and compelling customer experience."