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Thursday, October 30, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

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MSN division revamped to reflect its new focus

By Brier Dudley
Seattle Times technology reporter

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Microsoft is reorganizing its MSN division, in part, to reflect its growing emphasis on communications, Internet search and premium services.

The changes also reflect Microsoft's evolving vision for the collection of services and advertising vehicles that carry the MSN banner.

MSN shifted its focus in recent years away from amassing Internet service subscribers with costly giveaways and rebates. Now it's trying to make more money per subscriber by emphasizing premium services, a strategy that helped the division turn its first operating profit last quarter.

Details of the reorganization are still being sorted out, but the division will be organized in two groups focusing on communication services and information services.

Senior Vice President David Cole, who told employees about the changes Tuesday night, will continue to oversee MSN, but he assigned vice presidents to lead the groups.

Yusuf Mehdi will lead the information-services group, which includes the MSN portal and the growing search technologies team. Mehdi previously was in charge of MSN business development, but those responsibilities have shifted to recently hired sales and business development directors.

Blake Irving will lead the communication and subscription-services platform group. It includes MSN Messenger, e-mail services such as Hotmail, the Passport authentication services and forthcoming communication services now under development.

Vice presidents Brian Arbogast and Ted Kummert, who led core services such as Passport and subscription services, continue to report to Cole while the reorganization is being sorted out, said spokeswoman Lisa Gurry.

"Really what today is about is defining that top level structure."

Gurry said the changes better align teams so everyone at MSN working on e-mail technologies, for example, is in the same group.

Microsoft also announced it hired Paul Ryan from Overture Services, the company that provides online search advertising for MSN. Ryan was Overture's chief technology officer; now he's "general manager of MSN monetization."

Brier Dudley: 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com


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