Behind Departure of Top Microsoft Sales Guy, a Longing for Products

Bill Shaughnessy, Microsoft’s global sales VP, will soon step down after nearly 15 years with the company. The move was first reported by AdAge, but the reason for his departure wasn’t clear.

It now appears Shaughnessy’s plan is to steer his career back toward product management, where he cut his teeth, and away from the sales leadership positions that have occupied his attention in recent years.

“From the outset, Bill was a product person,” said a Microsoft source familiar with Shaughnessy’s plans. “This business is going to get crazy big, and his passion has never been sales.”

The source, who asked not to be identified, said Shaughnessy’s decision had nothing to do with the looming departure of former aQuantive CEO Brian McAndrews, as some have speculated. Rather he feels he’s completed his mission of realigning the company’s sales organization.

A big step in that process was the hire of Time Inc. vet Robin Domeniconi as VP U.S., Microsoft Advertising. With Domeniconi about to start and other changes in full swing, Shaughnessy decided the time was right to make a change. He is expected to step down in March, and plans to take about a year off before returning to a product role.

With his departure Corporate VP Darren Huston will oversee global and U.S. sales for the online business. Domeniconi, who starts next month, will report directly to Huston, managing U.S. sales. Meanwhile, the online services group field sales organization has been moved to Microsoft’s sales, marketing, and services group, which is run by COO Kevin Turner.

In a memo to staff, Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group SVP McAndrews called Shaughnessy a “trusted partner” during the integration of aQuantive.

“In addition to providing me with valuable insights about Microsoft, Bill did a great job of building his organization from the ground up when we re-organized early in this calendar year,” he wrote.

Previously at Microsoft, Shaughnessy was with MSN as general manager of ad product management and ad operations. Before joining MSN in 1998, he was in the Windows OS marketing group.

Shaughnessy is reportedly weighing his next move, but ClickZ’s source speculates he may wind up back in Redmond.

“I wouldn’t put it past him to come back to Microsoft,” he said. “There’s a ton more work to do on products.”

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