By Richard Koman / Top Tech News. Updated November 07, 2007.
Microsoft has fired its CIO, Stuart Scott, the company announced Tuesday. "We can confirm that Stuart Scott's employment with Microsoft has been terminated after an investigation for violation of company policies," a Microsoft spokesperson said.
The company said the firing came after an internal investigation, but wouldn't say what policies Scott violated. General manager Shahla Aly and Corporate Vice President Alain Crozier will temporarily take over Scott's duties, the company said.
Rob Helm, director of research at Directions on Microsoft, said the "pattern indicates some sort of HR violation."
What Did He Do?
The CIO position is "very important not just to Microsoft's internal I.T. but also to how Microsoft tests products," Helm said in a telephone interview. "The CIO is supposed to be Microsoft's first and best customer. So it's important that Microsoft get somebody into that position," he said.
It's not the first time that Microsoft has cut loose top executives. Ken DiPietro, once Microsoft's human relations director, and Martin Taylor, formerly the head of online services marketing, both "dropped out of sight" after years of service, Helm noted.
"So it's not unusual," he said. "If anything, what's unusual is that it's not unusual." Redmond's willingness to cut loose top talent might say more about its "aversion to lawsuits" than about its executive culture, Helm said.
Even so, employees at Microsoft called the firing "unprecedented," according to the British newspaper The Times, which suggested Scott's breach may have centered on some conflict of interest. The Times quoted a long-term employee as saying, "I can't recall anything like this having happened before."
Last week, Scott was behaving as normal, press reports noted, attending I.T. conferences and giving speeches. On its Web site, Microsoft added the word "former" to Scott's bio and noted that his "employment at Microsoft ended in early November 2007."
Scott's job included both internal-facing I.T., where he was "responsible for security, infrastructure, messaging, and business applications for all of Microsoft," according to the bio, as well as prerelease product testing. Microsoft I.T. "deploys prerelease versions of Microsoft products throughout the company," Microsoft said, improving quality, enhancing products, and identifying new market opportunities.
Combining both roles in Scott's job as CIO was a change for Microsoft, he said in a recent interview with Computerworld. "Prior CIOs have always run the corporate systems and infrastructure for the employees. What we've added is the direct line-of-business systems. It's all part of Microsoft learning how to be a big company but still remain innovative and agile," he was quoted as saying.
"Everyone seems to have input into everyone else's job," he said in that interview. "It keeps you sharp. Certainly, there are people at Microsoft that think they can do my job, but they really don't want to do my job. I think that just goes with the territory of any CIO."
Scott came to Microsoft from GE in 2005, where he served for 17 years as CIO of several divisions. He was recognized by CIO Magazine in 2003 as one of the top 100 CIOs.