Another online executive leaves Microsoft

As the year comes to a close, Microsoft is losing yet another executive in its online business -- Brad Goldberg, general manager of Live Search.

As another difficult year for Microsoft's online business approaches its close, the company is losing yet another executive on that team -- Brad Goldberg, general manager of Live Search.

Microsoft confirmed through its public relations firm Wednesday that Goldberg is leaving the company to pursue other interests, and that the company wished him well.

Goldberg follows another executive from Microsoft's online business out the door in the wake of the announcement of former Yahoo executive Qi Lu as the new leader of the beleaguered Online Services Group (OSG), which is the division generating the least revenue at Microsoft.

The TechFlash blog first reported Goldberg's move late Tuesday, saying he was leaving to become chief executive of the online business for venture capital firm Peak6. Peak6 did not immediately return a request Wednesday to confirm that Goldberg is joining the firm.

Earlier this month Microsoft said Lu will take over as president of OSG on Jan. 5, but that Brian McAndrews, senior vice president of Microsoft's Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group, will transition out of Microsoft in the next several months. McAndrews was CEO of digital advertising and services firm aQuantive, which Microsoft acquired for US$6 billion in 2007.

Microsoft did confirm that Mike Nichols, a Microsoft veteran who was most recently on the strategic partnerships team in OSG and before that worked in search engineering, would replace Goldberg as GM of Live Search effective Jan. 1.

Prior to his role running Microsoft's Live Search business, Goldberg was a manager on the Windows client team. While he led the search business, Microsoft initiated key strategies to build out its online advertising strategy to compete with Google, which continues to take the lion's share of the search-driven online advertising market.

Among those initiatives is Live Search Cashback, a way to give consumers discounts for products purchased online if they discover those products using Live Search.

Goldberg also led the team as it planned a rebranding of Live Search to the name "Kumo," something that Microsoft has not confirmed but that is widely expected to take place next year. Microsoft has filed to trademark the Kumo name in the U.S. for its search engine and other software and services, and also has purchased kumo.com and related domain names.

However, despite significant investment in its search and online business, and a rebranding and revamping of its online services strategy about three years ago, Microsoft's OSG still has made only incremental gains in revenue in fiscal 2008 and early 2009. Microsoft's fiscal year begins on July 1.

In addition to departures in OSG, Microsoft also confirmed earlier this week that James Hamilton, a key architect of its expanding data-center strategy, has left to become a vice president and distinguished engineer at rival Amazon Web Services.

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