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What is going on with the executive table at Microsoft.  With the recent changes in the executive team (Phil Sorgen, Eric Martorano, David Willis,  and now Gavriella Schuster) some have come to wonder what is going on at Microsoft and what is next for these individuals.  We chat with Howard Cohen to get his thoughts on the changes.

Video Transcription

Harry Brelsford  0:02 Hey Nation Nation, Harry here, I’m feeling festive and put on a sort of tropical shirt. That’s because I’m back with my main man, Howard Cohen. and Howard. How are you doing today?

Howard Cohen  0:12  I’m dazzled by that shirt. Whoa, there we go. Let me get my sunglasses and stuff. There we go.

Harry Brelsford  0:19 Good, man. Good man. Oh, look at that with the wrap. Oh, much better. I like it. So for those audience members that don’t know, Howard as the column, the Evolving MSP over Redmond channel, partner magazine, you’ve had a long relationship with them. And recently, you wrote about some change over the Microsoft Partner Program. And that was executive level changes. And that was interesting. Because Howard, I’m used to typically seeing those changes occur in early July at what used to be the worldwide partner conference and the beginning of the fiscal year. That’s when Alison Watson stepped down the year it was in DC. So I’m used to a particular cadence around mid year in the new fiscal, but this would have been q4 for their current fiscal year. So the question is very simple. What’s going on over there with the executive table?

Howard Cohen  1:14 Yeah, I don’t think anybody knows Harry. And I’ve been trying to figure it out for quite some time. Obviously, when a while back, there was a huge Exodus I’m talking about several years ago, there was a huge, huge exodus of talented people out of the organization. That was unfortunate, and a lot of good friends actually found themselves in much more entrepreneurial careers. But it happens. Allison, in particular, was an interesting transition. What they did was they told Allison, they gave Alison Jon Roskill skills job, they gave Jon Roskill Allison’s job. And they told both of them, they’ve just gotten a promotion. I’m not sure how that works. But John was an interesting channel chief in his time. More recently, we’ve seen Phil Sorgen  leave. Yep. And become CRO at ringcentral. We’ve seen Eric Martorano leave some CRO at Nextiva. It does. It’s interesting that several of the maybe second tier executives, yep. Um, although they’re still, you know, high up in the food chain. They’re moving over into the telecom channel to some extent, or at least, yes, yeah, that is, and I’m not sure you know what that means. But both of them seem to be thriving. David Willis was a different story altogether. David’s been there for 28 years. Okay. And I think that he was reached at a place where he wanted to do something else. With him, I talked about the fact that he wasn’t exactly sure what he was doing. Other than showing up on some people’s board, which was interesting. He’s serving on the board of several different companies now. Um, and Tyler, of course came in to replace him. Gavriella  is even in a more interesting departure. You met him Gavriella Schuster ? Yep. Yep. Um, usually they did just before inspire or the worldwide partner conference, make that change. Blah, whatever. Gavriella is not leaving until mid to late July. She’s seeing out this quarter. She’s leading the charge this quarter. And I think it’s the smartest thing they’ve ever done giving her a chance to hand off to Rodney Clark  and convey information to him and transit the whole operation to him. You know, I said this in the article, or somewhere recently that, you know, people think oh, my God, Gavriella assisters, leaving the gentle cheese roll. When Alison left. She was in the role for eight years and people thought she had way overstayed her time in that role. Gavriella has been in for over seven.

Harry Brelsford  4:07 Oh, wow. I didn’t realize I’ve been that long. Good lord.

Howard Cohen  4:10 Yep. Yep. Then I think a lot of people didn’t realize I didn’t realize that until I took a look at the bit that the dates, but um, I think that this is something they try to cycle on a fairly frequent basis to bring new ideas and fresh energy and whatnot. I don’t think that I don’t think there’s anything negative about this. You know, when Jenni Flinders  left, everybody was shocked. You know, a lot of these a lot of those people moved on to great opportunities. And they’ve all you know, certainly landed extremely, extremely well. I think the culture at Microsoft is definitely changing. Personally, this is just HMC Talking and Nobody else I think slowly but surely, Microsoft is making that sea change away from the channel. I think the channels role with Microsoft is changing. I think Microsoft realizes that transactional partners are not as important as they used to be. They don’t need the transaction as much as they need the business. that’s been true for decades. They recognize that as somebody influences a Microsoft based project, that’s great. That’s all they could ask for. And they have always promoted that they’ve always supported that they’ve always pulled over themselves. To help partners with that. I think at this point, we’re going to see Finally, the point in time when the transaction is not the issue. The project is, and that’s to me, that’s good. Because that speaks to the partners intellectual property. You know, if the partner brings great intellectual property to the mix, then that’s a great partner. That’s a partner, we want to talk to why I’ve said that ISV’s have become the partner of choice. Yeah. partners have gone away.

Harry Brelsford  6:12 Yeah, two final thoughts. One is to insiders who obviously wouldn’t name but well, over a decade ago, they said, in their own way, but they said, you know, in 20 years, there may not be a Microsoft partner program. And I kind of scratch my head at the time. And, and so the storytelling you’re doing, it brings back some of those thoughts now, you know, times change, and the partners change and the motion changes. So that might have been going a little bit too far. But that little bit of food for thought. And then finally, Howard, Any word on the street, where Gavriella is is going to end up, stay inside Microsoft, when the announcement came down? It wasn’t very clear what she’s going to do.

Howard Cohen  6:55 I have asked her that question. And she’s not prepared to answer it. Yeah, with her in July. To talk more about it. I don’t know that I’ll get that information that Yeah, um, as with Sorgen and Martorano, and Jenni, each one of them. And Dave Willis. I mean, I think that they are entertaining, multiple opportunities.

Harry Brelsford  7:23  I’m sure they are,

Howard Cohen  7:24 you know, and I don’t think any of them made the decision before they left. I think they took the time to make the best decision for themselves and for the industry. And I celebrate that. I think that that’s great. You know, so,

Harry Brelsford  7:38  alright, Howard. Well, we’ll end on a high note. We’ll see you next month. Thanks for being one of her analysts and keeping it real. Keep up the good work.

Howard Cohen  7:45 Good to see you. Very Good to see you. Alright, thanks.

Harry Brelsford  7:51 Thanks to Jennifer Hallmark. Over in the radio control room, folks. We’re over and out by now. All right.