Ask’s Berkowitz to Head MSN

Microsoft has poached Ask CEO Steve Berkowitz from InterActiveCorp (IAC) to head up its online business group, which encompasses Live Platforms, Windows Live and MSN. Berkowitz takes over for David Cole, who in February announced he was taking a sabbatical.

“The opportunity to work in the online space for a company like Microsoft, with its vision, capabilities and global reach, is truly exciting,” Berkowitz said in a statement.

Ask elevated Jim Lanzone, who had been senior vice president and general manager of Ask U.S., to take Berkowitz’ place.

The Berkowitz appointment comes at a time when Microsoft is retooling its online operations to take advantage of the search and display advertising boom. The Online Business Group itself is a recent invention, having been established just last month in a reorganization. That shakeup, which saw Yusuf Mehdi promoted to chief advertising strategist, followed the promotion of Joanne Bradford to oversee global ad sales and trade marketing.

On the product side, Microsoft has been developing the Windows Live portal, an initiative at the center of a plan to make more of its products ad-supported. The company has also been working on its adCenter ad management and tracking platform, currently in beta in the U.S. AdCenter will eventually serve ads across those ad-supported properties.

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