Microsoft hired a former exec from Barry Diller's IAC/InterActive Corp. to head its MSN business, replacing David Cole, who will take a leave of absence from the software company next month.
Steve Berkowitz will start May 8 as Microsoft's senior VP in charge of its Internet business, the company said Friday. Berkowitz, 47, had served as CEO of IAC's search business, Ask.com. He will report to Kevin Johnson, co-president of Microsoft's platforms and services division.
The management change comes as Microsoft is trying to compete with Google and other Web companies for new streams of revenue derived from selling advertisements pegged to the use of software on the Web. Google this week reported first quarter profits increased 60%, to $592 million, and revenues soared 79% to $2.25 billion. During Microsoft's second quarter ended Dec. 31, its MSN division earned $58 million on revenues of $593 million. Market research also shows Microsoft's share of Web search queries well behind Google's. Microsoft is scheduled to report results for its third quarter ended March 31 next week.
In an e-mail to his staff, Johnson said Berkowitz built up Ask.com's management team, expanded its audience, and increased its market share of Web searches. Johnson added that Berkowitz, who had also been an exec at the "Dummies" brand at IDG Books, understands "both the offline and online publishing worlds." Microsoft had previously said that Cole would take a leave of absence starting next month.
IAC, run by CEO Diller, also owns dating site Match.com, Ticketmaster, and the home shopping network HSN. IAC acquired search engine site Ask Jeeves last year, and has invested in the business under its new name of Ask.com.