Chief Steve Berkowitz Jumps Ship To Microsoft's MSN

Steve Berkowitz, head of and the man who has helped steered that service to new successes, has been hired by Microsoft to run its online business group.

Steve will be senior vice president of MSN's Online Business Group. Microsoft says:

He will be responsible for running the Online Business group, which includes include, MSNTV and MSN Internet Access programming, advertising sales, business development, and marketing for Live Platforms, MSN and Windows Live. This team?s mission is to deliver world-class go to market leadership, that wins customers to our services and builds a world leading advertising business. The responsibility for the monetization of our Live Platform, MSN and Windows Live assets is owned by this team, and includes end-to-end management of the online P&L.

Steve is currently CEO of IAC Search & Media, which encompasses Ask. His start date with MSN is May 8. The New York Times reports that Steve's job at Ask is now being assumed by IAC Search & Media president Doug Lebda.

The news of Steve's hire was sent out to MSN employees on Friday with this announcement from Kevin Johnson, Microsoft's copresident of the platforms & services division:

I am pleased to announce that Steve Berkowitz will be joining the Platforms and Services Division (PSD) as Senior Vice President, Online Business Group, reporting to me. Steve succeeds David Cole, who will begin his leave of absence in May.

Most recently, Steve was the CEO of, a division of IAC/InterActiveCorp. At Ask, Steve is credited with building the management team that orchestrated the turnaround of, grew their user base, increased customer satisfaction, and gained share in the search market over the last year.

Steve is an accomplished senior executive with a rich skill set, including consumer brand building, media, marketing, operations, people management, finance, and technology. He also brings a great blend of start-up and high growth business experiences. Prior to joining Ask, Steve was the President and COO of IDG Books, where he successfully built a consumer brand by expanding the "Dummies" series of books to cover topics ranging from C++ to pet care.

Steve?s management experience, deep functional knowledge of the search and Internet space, and understanding of both the offline and online publishing worlds make him a great choice to lead the Online Business Group. He is a proven leader, and is excited by the opportunity to take the assets we?ve built in MSN and drive our software + services vision forward.

Steve will start this assignment on May 8th. David Cole and I will work together to ensure a smooth transition to Steve.

Please join me in welcoming Steve to Microsoft, and thanking David for his contribution to the company and to MSN.

Kevin Johnson
Co-President Platforms & Services Division

I won't go into more depth on the move right now as it's the weekend, and I almost never work weekends. But I had to check my email today, saw the news from Microsoft and wanted to get something up quickly.

In short, I think it's a great win for Microsoft. Steve knows what it's like to be an underdog in the search space and fight your way back onto the radar screen. My main reaction really is why stop at Steve? Microsoft should have bought Ask long ago.

As I wrote before about the current search wars, Microsoft entered the battle against Google and Yahoo from square one. When it took on Netscape (and other players), it at least acquired technology rather than try to start from scratch.

Want to comment or discuss? Visit our Search Engine Watch Forums thread, Chief Berkowitz Heads To MSN.