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The software giant recruits from the best talent and it gets spread around when they leave
Microsoft didn't become the industry giant it is today by hiring slackers, and that's proven by taking a quick look at some of its alumni and where they have wound up. Some went on to start their own companies, some went into nonprofit work, some became leaders of rival companies and one on our list -- so far at least -- seems to be just taking it easy.
A 23-year veteran of Microsoft, Steven Sinofsky helped make Microsoft Office the success it is and eventually became the president of the company's Windows and Windows Live division and the mastermind behind Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface tablet. He abruptly left the company in November 2012 just weeks after the Windows 8 and Surface launches to pursue other opportunities that he didn't specify.
A real heavy hitter, Greg Maffei has served as president and CFO of Oracle, CEO of 360networks and chairman of Expedia, in addition to serving as CFO of Microsoft. Now he's president and CEO of Liberty Media, a conglomeration of media, entertainment and communications companies.
After a long run at Microsoft, from 1986 to 2000, Paul Maritz finished up as the executive vice president of the company's platforms strategy and development group and sat on the company's executive management team where he was regarded as No. 3 in the corporate hierarchy. He is now chairman of VMware, having turned over the reins as CEO in September 2012. Fun fact: He is credited with creating the term "eating your own dog food" to express the practice of vendors using their own products in production.
Ray Ozzie served as chief software architect at Microsoft, replacing Microsoft founder Bill Gates in that role. He left in 2010, and after sitting out a one-year non-compete agreement is coming back with a startup named Cocomo that seems to be focused on mobile communication for iOS and Android devices. Of course as the developer of Lotus Notes, he did pretty well for himself before joining Microsoft.
Kevin Johnson is the former head of the Windows division at Microsoft, but he's moved on from software to some pretty heavy hardware. He's now CEO of Juniper Networks.
Once a senior director of Microsoft's Server division, Steven VanRoekel left the company in 2009 to become managing director of the Federal Communications Commission. In August 2011 he was appointed the nation's second CIO by President Obama, managing the federal government's IT spending.
John J. Wood
Once the director of businesss development in China for Microsoft, John J. Wood left the company to found Room to Read, a nonprofit with the goal of worldwide literacy and gender equality. He's also the author of "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children," as well as "Zak the Yak with Books on His Back," a children's book.
The former head of Office and Microsoft sales for Microsoft, Jeff Raikes has close ties to Microsoft Founder Bill Gates. How close? He's now CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dennis Durkin has gone from Xbox to World of Warcraft. He served as corporate vice president, COO and CFO of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business before moving on to become CFO of Activision, which also makes the massively multi-player online role-playing game Call of Duty.
Robbie Bach was the president of Entertainment and Devices at Microsoft, which oversees Xbox, Xbox 360, Zune, Windows Games, Windows Mobile and Microsoft TV. He retired in 2010 and is now the interim chairman for the Entertainment Software Association, the trade group representing the U.S. video gaming industry.
While at Microsoft J Allard served as the chief experience officer, but in more concrete terms he helped launch Xbox and pushed for supporting TCP/IP in Windows 95 as well as helping to create the first Windows Sockets API. Now he's an adviser to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and a director of The Clymb, an online outdoor-equipment sales site offering deals for members only.
Once the CFO for Skype then corporate vice president at Microsoft after it bought Skype, Jonathan Chadwick has shifted over to a Microsoft rival in the realm of virtualization, VMware. He was named VMware's CFO in November 2012.
Once the CTO of Microsoft, Nathan Myhrvold is founder and CEO of a firm called Intellectual Ventures, which he set up to create inventions that solve big problems. For example, the intensity of hurricanes is fed by the storms moving over warm ocean water. But since deeper water is cooler, the solution to taming the storms is simple, he says: Stir the water.
After serving as CEO of Microsoft's largest foreign business unit, Microsoft Japan, and then as corporate vice president of the company's consumer and online division, Darren Huston left the company in September 2011 and signed on as CEO of Booking.com, an online hotel reservation service.
Starting at Microsoft's U.K. division, Mich Mathews rose to become vice president of the company's central marketing, which put her in charge of communications to consumers using advertising, PR, events and product packaging. She retired in 2011 and so far hasn't resurfaced in a full-time job. However in June 2012, The Wall Street Journal reported she bought an $11.5 million, seven-bedroom, 12,000-square-foot home in Los Angeles.