Microsoft has confirmed that Richard Belluzzo, who quit as chief executive of Silicon Graphics (SGI) last week, will lead its online efforts.
Belluzzo's appointment as group vice president of Microsoft's consumer and commerce group (CCG) had been widely expected since his resignation from SGI (see Newswire, 24 August, 1999).
The focus of Microsoft's new group will be to expand Web operations, including WebTV, the Microsoft TV platform, MSN Mobile and MSN sites such as Hotmail, MSNBC and Expedia Travel.
Microsoft president Steve Ballmer praised Belluzzo as a "great leader, a focused and intense business manager," adding that, "he has an appreciation of technology, hardware and software." Ballmer also said Belluzzo's experience overseeing SGI's reorganisation earlier this year and his time as an Hewlett-Packard executive should add depth to the team.
Ballmer acknowledged that the group needed to be more efficient and even hinted that divestiture of certain service properties was a possibility. The example Ballmer gave was Microsoft's investment in technology that allows consumers to reach buying cars online.
"While that's important to us, in terms of future investments, I don't see it as fundamental to Microsoft," Ballmer said. "The key is to make sure we're running a very efficient business. We all share the passion for efficiency, but at the same time we won't be afraid to aggressively invest in acquiring customers."
Belluzzo declined to go into details about Microsoft's plans for MSN or WebTV. He did say he was excited to join the Redmond company. "I see my role as delivering a rich consumer experience to everything we do," he said.
As of June 1999, Media Metrix ranked MSN.com as the number three Web site for reach and Microsoft third in digital properties, based on the number of users. Microsoft trails behind leader America Online (AOL), and Yahoo which occupies the number two slot.
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