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5/12/2008
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Retiring Microsoft Exec Raikes Gets Gates Foundation Nod

While at Microsoft, Jeff Raikes oversaw the company's business products, including Office and its Dynamics ERP and CRM suites.

Outgoing Microsoft business division president Jeff Raikes will become CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation upon his retirement from the software company later this year, the Gates Foundation announced Monday.

"Joining the Gates Foundation is an honor and an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to focus on improving the lives of others," Raikes said in a statement. "I'm convinced that through strong partnerships, ambitious goals, and a commitment to impact, we can transform people's lives."

The Gates Foundation is one of the world's largest charitable foundations and is aimed at improving health care and education in the United States and around the world. Among its significant grants and work have been funding for the eradication of AIDS, Japanese encephalitis, and polio and money for agriculture in Africa. The Gates Foundation's work helped spur the selection of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, as Time magazine's 2005 Persons of the Year.

Raikes will replace the foundation's first CEO, Patty Stonesifer, herself a former Microsoft exec who guided the company's development of MSN and other long-lasting products. She announced in February that she'd be stepping down by the end of the year.

As former Microsoft business division president, Raikes, 50, will bring the experience of managing a multibillion-dollar enterprise to bear at the Gates Foundation. While at Microsoft, Raikes oversaw Microsoft's business products, including Office and the company's Dynamics ERP and CRM suites, almost doubling the division's revenue to more than $16 billion a year.

"We have chosen a leader who embodies the characteristics essential to continuing [the foundation's] work: an extraordinary mind and an uncompromising commitment to getting the job done," Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet, who serves on the Gates Foundation's board of trustees, said in a statement.

Raikes announced his plan to leave Microsoft after 27 years on the job in January. He's currently helping his replacement, former Macromedia CEO and Juniper Networks COO Stephen Elop, ease into Raikes' old job. During his long tenure with the company, he helped shape Microsoft Office into the dominant productivity suite it is today. Recently, he's helped turn Microsoft into a business intelligence powerhouse and has pushed the company into the burgeoning unified communications marketplace.

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