Two Top Acquisitions Execs Leaving Microsoft

Two key merger and acquisition executives are leaving Microsoft, but is it problems with the company's strategy or greener grasses that are at fault?

Two senior executives involved in Microsoft's mergers and acquisitions are saying goodbye to the software giant, according to published reports.

However, one knowledgeable analyst said he views the departures from Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) acquisitions group as part of a natural business cycle, rather than a major strategic shift for the software giant.

On Monday, TechCrunch reported that Fritz Lanman, Microsoft senior director of corporate strategy and acquisitions, left the company a few weeks ago to build a startup.

Additionally, on Tuesday, the All Things Digital news site reported that sources say that general manager of corporate strategy Charles Songhurst is also leaving the company.

In fact, Microsoft has made a few large acquisitions in recent years -- but most of the company's purchases have been smaller in targeted technologies.

Not all of its purchases have gone through, though, particularly in the case of Microsoft's attempted buyout of Yahoo in 2008.

Songhurst reportedly was involved in the attempted takeover of Yahoo.

Then there was the $6 billion purchase of online advertising giant aQuantive in 2007.

Microsoft's shopping list has been much more conservative of late, however. For instance, at the end of 2010, the company bought out chip maker Canesta. The details of that deal were not disclosed, and the buy barely caught the media's attention when the acquisition was announced in November.

In fact, Microsoft's purchases did not even place the company on's list of the top acquisitions in 2010.

That didn't stop a spike in Adobe's stock in October when it was revealed that the CEOs of the two firms had met for an hour, starting a rumor that Microsoft may have suggested buying out the graphics firm.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, suggested it might be too soon to diagnose problems in Microsoft's acquisitions strategy.

"Microsoft goes hot and cold. Their big acquisitions are over for the time being," Enderle told Under those types of circumstances, it's possible the two executives were just bored.

"It's what these guys love to do [acquisitions], and that's where the real money is. Even in a consolidation phase in the market, good acquisitions talent is going to be hot," Enderle said.

Indeed, two years ago this month, Bruce Jaffe, then vice president of corporate development, the executive largely responsible for the aQuantive acquisition, resigned after 12 years with the software maker.

Meanwhile, Microsoft was noncommittal.

"Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail to

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

Tags: Microsoft, enterprise software, IT managers, Yahoo, mergers and acquisitions

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