Microsoft has tapped Yahoo executive Qi Lu to run its online services division. Lu served as vp of engineering in Yahoo’s search and ad technology group.
Another top candidate for the job, former aQuantive CEO Brian McAndrews, is leaving the company.
The choice of Lu to replace to Kevin Johnson, who left in July, was much discussed in Silicon Valley and ad circles. Microsoft opted to go with Lu’s heavy tech expertise over alternate choices like McAndrews with more experience in the media and advertising worlds.
McAndrews ran Microsoft’s advertiser and publisher services group. Scott Howe, another aQuantive veteran, will replace him there. Howe reports to Lu, along with audience lead Yusuf Mehdi and research and development exec Satya Nardella.
Microsoft said McAndrews would leave the company after “several months” of consulting on the transition.
As a sign that Microsoft is focused on technology and competing with Google in search, it is moving its field sales group from the online services unit to its sales, marketing and services group headed by Kevin Turner.
Lu was perceived as a star at Yahoo, which has hemorrhaged executives and top talent over the past year, particularly in the aftermath of its bloody fight to fend off a Microsoft takeover. The companies have traded top executives, in fact. Joanne Bradford, formerly the top sales executive at Microsoft, now fills a similar role at Yahoo.
Lu’s tech credibility should hold him in good stead in Microsoft’s engineer-driven culture. He has a Phd from Carnegie Mellon and has authored 20 patents.
“Dr. Lu’s deep technical expertise, leadership capabilities and hard-working mentality are well-known in the technology industry, and Microsoft will benefit from his addition to our executive management team,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in a statement.