The man that has Microsoft’s future in his hands — Andy Lees, SVP mobile communication at Microsoft — is a “good manager,” but is “not a product person,” according to one of his former direct reports.
Andy is not the kind of person that’s going to figure out how to beat the iPhone, this person says. However, he thinks Andy could recruit the kind of person that could do that.
“He could definitely get along with a product person. He could give them freedom to operate,” our source says. (Our source left Redmond a few years ago to launch a startup. He still has friends at Microsoft now, and occasionally works with Microsoft.)
Because Andy has been at Microsoft for 20 years, he has “credibility with Ballmer.” If Ballmer is being too meddlesome, Andy has a strong-enough standing in the company to tell him to back off.
Microsoft reorganized its operations earlier this week when long-time Microsoft employee Robbie Bach — who was head of the Entertainment & Devices division — announced his retirement. Andy Lees leads the mobile operation, and was reporting to Robbie. Now he’ll be reporting directly to CEO Steve Ballmer, who is very interested in making sure mobile is a success.
While Andy could provide breathing room for a great product person at Microsoft, our source did caution that it would be challenging. Achieving autonomy to work on a product at Microsoft is tough. In mobile, especially so.
The problem is that Microsoft’s various divisions all think they deserve input into products. If a mobile person designed a killer operating system, s/he would have to deal with people from Windows, Office, and Bing. Each division would want to have input into how it looks and works.
Despite these challenges, our ex-Microsoftie thought Andy Lees could recruit the right person to be a mobile product chief. The only question: “Who is it going to be?”
If you have any ideas about who it should be, or if you’ve worked with Andy, please email me at [email protected] Anonymity guaranteed.