Microsoft Applications and Services chief Qi Lu leaves the company

Microsoft's head of Office and Bing is leaving the company. Here's CEO Satya Nadella's email to the troops on what's happening and what's next.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft Executive Vice President Qi Lu is leaving the company, and Microsoft is reorganizing his team, splitting it into new, separate business units.


Microsoft's Qi Lu

Lu has been heading up the Applications and Services Group -- the unit that has encompassed the Office applications team and the Bing search team.

In an email to employees on September 29, CEO Satya Nadella announced Lu was leaving so as to recover from "health conditions caused by a prior injury." (A couple of other reports, including the Wall Street Journal's, say Lu's injury was related to a biking accident.)

Lu will continue to act as a "personal advisor" to Nadella and Microsoft Founder Bill Gates after his recovery, but he won't be returning in his former role, Nadella said in his mail.

Microsoft hired Lu in 2008 from Yahoo to run the company's Online Services business. Lu seldom made public presentations, but was seen as a diligent confidant of Nadella's during his time at the company.

The Bing and Cortana pieces of the business formerly run by Lu will now be run by Executive Vice President Harry Shum. Shum is heading up a new AI and Research Group, Microsoft announced today.

The Office part of Lu's organization now will be headed by Executive Vice President Rajesh Jha, who will be reporting to Nadella and will become a new member of Microsoft's Senior Leadership Team. Jha also is taking over leading the Skype team. Current Skype chief Gurdeep Pall is moving to an as-now unspecified new role.

Here's Nadella's mail to the troops, which a Microsoft spokesperson verified is authentic.

From: Satya Nadella

Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2016 6:01 AM

Subject: Senior Leadership Team Update

Today, I want to share key senior leadership changes.

First, my friend and colleague Qi Lu has made a difficult and very personal decision to leave Microsoft to focus all his time on recovering from health conditions caused by a prior injury. Once Qi recovers, he will continue to serve as a personal advisor to Bill Gates and me. I wish Qi a full and fast recovery in the coming months, and want to thank him for all he has done for Microsoft.

Over the years, I've worked closely with Qi - first as an engineering leader within Bing, later as fellow members of the SLT, and most recently as he led ASG to new heights. The groundbreaking work Qi led during his eight years resulted in many product advances and built the foundation for future innovation across Microsoft. Qi exemplifies what it means to have a deep sense of mission, purpose and authenticity in everything one does. His greatest impact is the people he has inspired. I count myself among them.

As we look ahead, this week at Ignite I focused my keynote on democratizing AI for every person and every organization on the planet. We are on the cusp of a paradigm shift in computing that is unlike anything we have seen in decades. This will lead to artificial intelligence (AI) being infused broadly into our computing platforms and experiences. Advanced algorithms, hyper-scale compute capacity, and the ability to work across massive data sets are what enable us to drive this change in everything we do for customers.

To accelerate this vision, I have asked Harry Shum to lead the Microsoft AI and Research Group, bringing together for the first time our world-class research organization alongside all our AI product efforts. David Ku and the Information Platform Group along with Derrick Connell and the Bing and Cortana Engineering Group will now report to Harry. Vijay Mital and the Ambient Computing and Robotics Team will also be joining Harry's team.

Rajesh Jha will step into the role of leading the Office Product Group reporting directly to me and joining the SLT starting today. Julie Larson-Green and Eran Megiddo will continue in their current and existing charters, reporting to Rajesh. Gurdeep Singh Pall and I have decided this is the right time for him to transition to his next role. Gurdeep will transition the Skype team to Rajesh over the coming weeks.

We have great momentum with Office 365 in both our business results and product innovation and have made dramatic strides in our evolution to offer productivity and communications as a service. We have much to do in support of our ambition to reinvent productivity, and I am counting on this team to move forward with boldness and urgency.

We live in a time when digital technology is impacting, and indeed transforming, every human endeavor and each of our customers. Our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more continues to guide all we do. It is through our mission and activating a growth mindset culture that will enable us to accelerate digital transformation both within our own company and in partnership with our customers.

Finally, I hope you join me for a special Monthly Q&A today at 9:00 a.m. pt. Harry, Rajesh and I look forward to sharing more and taking your questions.


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