Microsoft Live Labs Reorganization, Questioned by Many, Is Great for Innovation, Says Lazowska
(Page 2 of 2)
in Microsoft Research. The people from Live Labs who were doing development are now in development organizations. There’s a small Live Labs left, with some specific tasks. And we have a new and highly promising experiment in how to incorporate Ph.D.s into Microsoft product groups and build strong bridges to the research organization: put a guy like Harry Shum in charge.”
Shum is Microsoft’s vice president of search product development, and the former head of Microsoft Research Asia and the Internet Services Research Center. He heads up Microsoft’s Live Search product team—which is going head-to-head against Google and Yahoo in the search and online-advertising arena—and is absorbing about 20 staff members from Live Labs (about half have Ph.D.s).
“It’s important to note that there were no headcount reductions, and some of the people who left Live Labs moved to Microsoft Research, in addition to some moving to product groups,” Lazowska says. “The right way to view the change is as a re-org that clarified the roles of various organizations.”
“In my view, there’s a legitimate question about whether Live Labs was working as intended,” Lazowska continues. “Live Labs was largely an experiment in creating a structure that would facilitate hiring Ph.D.s into Microsoft product groups. Ph.D.s can contribute a huge amount to engineering organizations. For example, two Ph.D.s from Google’s engineering organization, Jeff Dean (Ph.D. from UW) and Sanjay Ghemawat (Ph.D. from MIT), were just elected to the National Academy of Engineering at incredibly young ages for their leadership in designing and building Google’s scalable infrastructure (e.g., MapReduce).”
“But Live Labs stopped being part of a product organization [about two] years ago, and started reporting directly to Ray Ozzie,” Lazowska says. “This ‘disconnect’ from the product organization effectively terminated the experiment. Live Labs also developed a considerable research flavor—but it wasn’t connected to Microsoft Research, which is arguably the world’s strongest computing research organization.” Shum’s position, he says, is effective in “creating a strong connection between the search business and Microsoft Research, and also making the search business an attractive place for Ph.D.s to work.”
In an internal e-mail sent to all Microsoft Live Search and Live Labs staff (several hundred people in total) last Monday, Shum thanked the Live Labs team “for their dedication and vision to research, technology and to search.” Shum continued, “In the past few years, we have had many opportunities to work closely with Live Labs colleagues on many challenging search problems, and in numerous brainstorming sessions. It is fantastic to now join forces and work even more closely with each other to create the world’s best search engine.”
Trending on Xconomy
By posting a comment, you agree to our terms and conditions.