It was just over a year ago that Microsoft's search team was wrestling with back-to-back executive departures. Now it's the end of 2008 and here we are again in the midst of more Live Search shake-ups.
In just the past the three weeks:
- MSN has gone through a major reorg
- Microsoft appointed former Yahoo Qi Lu as its new head of Online Services
- Brian McAndrews -- former head of aQuantive and an alleged candidate for Lu's new job -- announced his resignation
- Bill Shaughnessy, head of global advertising sales (and a reported buddy of McAndrews) announced he'll be quitting Microsoft in March
- Brad Goldberg, Live Search General Manager, has quit and is joining Peak6, an invesment firm. (Welcome to the fire, frying pan.)
As other pundits have noted, Microsoft needs to try something -- anything -- new to fix its Online Services business.
Microsoft's query share is stagnating, in spite of the company's continued attempts to tweak business models with programs like Live Search Cashback. And its decision to focus on a handful of key verticals hasn't done a whole lot to improve Microsoft's search mindshare or marketshare, either. And there is still no deal with Yahoo Search after a year of on-again/off-again courtship. (I still wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft and Yahoo consumate some kind of search arrangement before the end of this calendar year, however.)
What else do you think Microsoft could and should do to try to shore up its search business? Do you think throwing technology at the search problem ("we'll have the best search algorithm and APIs, ever!") is the best approach? Will rebranding Live Search to Kumo help fix what ails Live Search?