by Shane O'Neill

Microsoft Exodus: 10 Execs Who Have Left the Company (2007-2012)

Nov 16, 20125 mins
IT Leadership

Windows chief Steven Sinofsky is the latest talented executive to quit or be forced out at Microsoft. Some of the departed have gone on to high-profile positions elsewhere, and others just disappear. Here's a list of Microsoft's most recent executive exits.

Microsoft Brain Drain

The departure of Windows chief Steven Sinofsky just two weeks after the launch of Windows 8 accentuates Microsoft’s recent inability to hold on to talent. The real reasons for Sinofsky’s exit remain a mystery, but he follows an executive exodus from Redmond that has accelerated over the past five years, arguably the most challenging time span in the company’s history. Here’s a look at Microsoft’s dearly departed from 2007 – 2012 and where they all landed.

Vic Gundotra: Departed in 2006 to … nemesis Google

Vic Gundotra

Gundotra, a general manager of developer evangelism at Microsoft and a Redmond employee for 15 years, technically left the company six years ago. But he makes it onto this list because of the company he migrated to: archrival Google. Talk about sleeping with the enemy. But things have worked out famously for Gundotra. He has been a Googleite since June 2007 and is now the VP of Engineering and the man behind Google+.

Kevin Johnson: Departed in 2008 to … become Juniper CEO

Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson joined Microsoft in 1992 where he served admirably in various executive roles. He became co-president (with Jim Allchin) of the Windows and Online Services Division in 2005 and became sole president when Allchin left in 2006. Unfortunately that was smack dab in the middle of the Windows Vista development cycle. In 2008, as Windows 7 development was ramping up, Johnson made his exit to become CEO of Juniper Networks.

Bill Gates: Departed in 2008 to … save the world

Bill Gates

Recognize this guy? Bill Gates remains the Chairman of Microsoft’s board of directors, but for all intents and purposes he has left the building. Gates relinquished the CEO throne to Steve Ballmer way back in 2000 and hasn’t been a day-to-day Microsoftie since 2008. These days, Gates spends his days and his money fighting poverty and improving education and healthcare through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Chris Liddell: Departed in 2009 to … be the CFO of GM for two years

Chris Liddell

Chris Liddell became Microsoft’s chief financial officer in 2005 and served in that role through some financially rocky times until the end of 2009. As CFO, Liddell oversaw corporate strategy, acquisitions, treasury activities, tax planning, accounting and reporting, internal audits and investor relations. Liddell joined General Motors in January 2010 in the same role, and led the company’s global finance operations until March 2011.

Bill Veghte: Departed in 2010 to … become VP and now COO at Hewlett-Packard

Bill Veghte

After being at Microsoft for 20 years, Bill Veghte left his role as a senior vice president of the Windows Business group in 2010 for a job leading Hewlett-Packard’s software business. Veghte’s departure coincided with Sinofsky taking over his group, so draw your own conclusions from that. Last May, Veghte was named HP’s chief operating officer.

Stephen Elop: Departed in 2010 to … become Nokia CEO

Stephen Elop

Elop came to Microsoft in January of 2008 after stints at Adobe and Juniper Networks. He stayed in Redmond for almost three years as head of the Business Division, which includes the whole Microsoft Office ecosystem. Elop took advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime when he ditched Microsoft to become CEO of struggling Finnish phone-maker, Nokia, in Sept. 2010. He remains there now and last year spearheaded an exclusive partnership with Microsoft that stated Nokia smartphones would only run the Windows Phone OS.

Robbie Bach: Departed in 2010 to … ????

Robbie Bach

Bach joined Microsoft in 1988 and was with the company until 2010. Along the way he held executive positions during the early lean years of Microsoft Office and with Microsoft Europe. But he’s best known as the president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices division, which included Xbox, Windows Phone and Zune. He left Microsoft in the fall of 2010 and joined the boards of the Boys & Girls Club of America, the U.S. Olympic Committee and wireless digital music systems maker, Sonos.

Ray Ozzie: Departed in 2010 to … start a company called Cocomo

Ray Ozzie

Brainiac Ray Ozzie was supposed to fill Bill Gates’ shoes as Microsoft’s chief software architect, but that never came to fruition. Ozzie, the original inventor of Lotus Notes, joined Microsoft in 2005 when it acquired his company, Groove Networks. Maybe he was too cerebral to fit in with the dog-eat-dog culture at Microsoft or maybe his exit was completely amicable. Either way, Ozzie did spearhead Windows Live, Xbox Live, Office 365 and the Windows Azure cloud platform and I’m sure convinced CEO Steve Ballmer to go “All In” for the cloud.

Bob Muglia: Departed in 2011 to … ?????

Bob Muglia

Bob Muglia, former president of Microsoft’s Server and Tools division, parted ways with Microsoft in early 2011. Muglia’s exit came soon after the departures of Ozzie, Bach and Elop, but it took many by surprise considering he had been in charge of one of the company’s most profitable divisions, Server and Tools, which accounted for 24 percent of Microsoft’s revenue in fiscal 2010. Not much has been heard from Muglia since his exit.

Steven Sinofsky: Departed in 2012 to … Pending

Steven Sinofsky

Steven Sinofsky was at Microsoft for more than 20 years and he was running Windows and Windows Live divisions when he left (or was ousted, we’re not sure which). He was the man in charge of bringing Windows 8 to market and was considered a top choice to succeed Steve Ballmer as Microsoft CEO. We don’t know what Sinofsky will do next but one thing’s for certain: he won’t be Microsoft CEO.