We hear Spencer Greene, long the right-hand man of Juniper Networks chairman Scott Kriens, is on his way out. Not entirely surprising, since Kriens was recently replaced as CEO by Kevin Johnson, a former top Microsoft executive. Our source tells us Greene is currently on a two-month "vacation" — the source used scare quotes — overseas.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his online services lieutenant Kevin Johnson couldn't finish the Yahoo merger negotiations they started on January 31. Microsoft's annual filings reveal the pair will pay for their failure with their bonuses. Johnson, who left the company in July, was promised a bonus between 97 percent and 100 percent of his salary and will earn only 97 percent. Ballmer, who was promised a bonus between 100 percent and 200 percent of his salary, earned a 109 percent bonus. Oh, to be a mediocre CEO and failed strategist at Microsoft: Though it's down a bit from last year, Johnson still earned $6.8 million in total compensation. Ballmer pulled a total of of $1.35 million on the year and still owns billions worth of Microsoft stock. (Photo by AP/Sarbach)
How much does one get for bungling an acquisition of Yahoo and leading a huge investment in Facebook at a questionable valuation? For former Microsoft VP and new Juniper Networks CEO Kevin Johnson, it's at least $8.2 million in salary and signing bonus, plus 1.6 million stock options and a shot at 350,000 shares in performance-tied stock grants over the course of four years.Not to mention thousands more in relocation assistance such as covering the closing costs and paying mortgage interest on a new home near the company's Sunnyvale headquarters. No longer having to report to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer? Priceless. (Photo by AP/Elaine Thompson)
Why did I let Jackson West take a vacation? While our associate editor was away, we actually wrote something nice about Gavin Newsom — and he only had to save San Francisco from a rogue IT guy to do it! Microsoft's Windows chief, Kevin Johnson, ended up in Sunnyvale, Calif. — but not, as he'd hoped, in the corner office at Yahoo HQ. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg flubbed more media interviews this week, prompting us to suggest he get help. Maybe he could take tips from the Internet-famous Julia Allison, who crashed his developers' conference?Allison's sort-of ex, Digg cofounder Kevin Rose, said he was buying Google. Surely not for Knol, Google's weak attempt at taking on Wikipedia — at launch, its search engine didn't even work. Jackson, come back and help us make sense of this crazy business! (Photo by Jason Calacanis)
Kevin Johnson, the former boss of Microsoft's former Platform and Services Division, had to have thought he'd be moving to Sunnyvale this fall under different circumstances. Instead of riding into Yahoo HQ as a conquering hero, Johnson will take over Juniper Networks, a maker of fine and very boring networking hardware. Conveniently, however, Juniper is just around the corner from Yahoo. One senior Yahoo exec tell us that Johnson should feel welcome to join them for a latte at Beantrees: "Juniper Networks HQ is located 2 blocks from Yahoo’s HQ in Sunnyvale. So he can eat at our cafeteria!" Above, we've provided a Yahoo Map with walking directions to make the trip that much easier. Welcome to Silicon Valley, Mr. Johnson.
Everyone wants a piece of beloved former AOL CEO Jon MIller, who was oh so unfairly fired, loyalists say, by Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes. First gossips suggested Miller as a fit to replace ineffectual Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang. Then, on Monday, Yang himself said Miller would fill one of Carl Icahn's new seats on the Yahoo board. Now, a source tells Kara Swisher that Miller is "one of the top outside candidates on the list" to head Microsoft's new Online Services division. Maybe everyone can stop moaning about the way Bewkes handled Miller's dismissal now?
Here are all the talking points you'll hear about Kevin Johnson's departure as the chief of Microsoft's sprawling Platform and Services Division — and what to say about them. The failed Yahoo bid killed his prospects of becoming Microsoft's CEO. Perhaps, but Steve Ballmer, who is more to blame for the Yahoo debacle, wasn't going anywhere, and Johnson may not have been prepared to wait. Johnson was charged with competing with Google in search and advertising, and he failed. And you would have done any better? Facebook took Microsoft for everything it's worth in striking its deal for Microsoft to invest and sell ads on the social network — and that's Johnson's fault. True enough, but Microsoft's $240 million investment is pocket change for the software giant. Enough with the cocktail-party chatter. Here's why I think Johnson really left.
"The departure of Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Division, will be combined with a reorganization of the business unit, which houses both the online services business and Windows software for personal computers," reports the Wall Street Journal. Johnson was a rarity in Microsoft's top ranks — a business guy who rose up through Microsoft's sales organization, not a technical whiz kid who served as a special assistant to Bill Gates. He was seen as a possible successor to CEO Steve Ballmer. Instead, he's joining Juniper Networks, a telecom equipment maker. (Photo by AP/Elaine Thompson)
Can a PR guy run an operating system? Silicon Valley's gut reaction: No way. And yet that's what Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has done in appointing Elliot Schrage, her handpicked flack, to run Facebook's platform. The platform, when it launched a year ago, was hailed as the world's next Windows; by opening up its friends lists and other features to outside developers, Facebook would surely become the next Microsoft, ran the standard line of punditry, in an age when the pundits were in love with Facebook. That, more than anything, surely stirred Microsoft to invest $240 million in the company. But in one very short year — or a very long one, rather — Facebook's platform has gone from selling point to PR headache.
Yahoo shares are almost below $20 in morning trading and as the company approaches its August 1 annual meeting, Yahoo's directors have finally begun to fear for their jobs and their reputations. They're negotiating with Yahoo's major shareholders and, along with agreeing to renew talks with Microsoft and approach AOL for acquisition, some on the board are offering to promote CEO Jerry Yang into a non-executive chairmanship and fire Yahoo president Sue Decker. Reporter's reporter Kara Swisher reports that shareholders and some board members have already come up with a wish list of names for the top jobs.
Despite all the reports to the contrary, Microsoft actually ended its bid to acquire Yahoo way back in April. At least, that's what Microsoft topper Kevin Johnson would have his underlings believe. "In a March 10th meeting in Palo Alto, we explained to Yahoo management the importance of reaching an agreement by the end of April," Johnson wrote in a memo.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer believes the online advertising market will reach $40 billion this year and grow to $80 billion by 2010. Last year, Microsoft earned only $2 billion from it. Google claimed $8 billion. This disparity upsets Ballmer and so he's put his man Kevin Johnson to the task of remedying the situation. Since most of Google's revenues come from search marketing, Johnson's first plan is to acquire more search queries for Microsoft. Hence the bid to acquire Yahoo, or at least its search business. But Johnson knows more search queries for Microsoft won't unseat Google alone, and so his second step is convince advertisers that Google's search advertising isn't worth all the money they spend on it. To make that argument, Johnson will rely on a tool Microsoft acquired when it purchased aQuantive last year: engagement mapping, a system that will tell vendors which ads consumers saw on the Web before they purchased a product.
Microsoft platforms and services president Kevin Johnson addressed employees in an internal memo over the weekend to discuss Yahoo and Microsoft's online strategy. The 11-word version : "We are not where we want to be. Hear more Wednesday." For the superfluous details, see our 100-word version, or, for the gluttons for repetition and passive voice among you, Johnson's entire email, both below:
Emails are flying out of Redmond with this speculation: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's botched $50 billion bid for Yahoo could mean the end of his career. While Microsoft's board reportedly gave the CEO considerable leeway in handling the deal, his dithering approach and his failure to sell the deal both to Yahoo's board and Microsoft's own executives don't reflect well on the sweaty screamer. The only problem: Microsoft has no obvious successor for Ballmer.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer heeded our advice and walked away from a bid for Yahoo. Did he dodge a potentially career-ending bullet? "The talks broke down this afternoon after a face to face meeting in the Seattle area that included Microsoft CEO Steve ballmer, Microsoft exec. kevin johnson, and Yahoo co-founders Jerry Yang and David Filo." [All Things Digital] (Photo by Yodel Anecdotal)
A tipster writes:
Microsoft has offered $44.6 billion to buy Yahoo in a cash-and-stock deal. Here are highlights from the conference call Microsoft is holding to discuss it.
5:35 a.m. Pacific: Steve Ballmer calls offer "significant." He called Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang last night to discuss it. A year ago, Yahoo management it "wasn't the right time" to discuss an acquisition.
5:37 a.m.: Kevin Johnson, who heads up Microsoft's Windows business and led its acquisition of aQuantive and the investment in Facebook, is talking about online-advertising industry economics. He describes it as a "scale" business in the areas of search advertising and ad serving. "Requires significant investments" in technology and infrastructure" leading to "a period of consolidation." The market is "dominated by one player" — he's obviously talking about Google. In other words, the antitrust argument has already begun.