Microsoft VP Alex Gounares, Former Technology Assistant to Bill Gates, Leaving for AOL

5/7/10Follow @gthuang

One of Microsoft’s most respected executives announced today he is leaving the company. Alex Gounares, who was previously vice president of advertising research and development, has been hired as the chief technology officer of New York-based AOL and will be moving to the East Coast to take the job. The announcement was made internally at Microsoft, and was first reported by All Things Digital.

I’ve confirmed the news with an ex-Microsoft source close to Gounares, who says Microsoft is losing its “best technical mind” and a “great professional” who “works behind the scenes, like any good architect.” He’s also an avid sailor who seems to have strong relationships throughout the company.

Gounares is perhaps best known for being Microsoft chairman Bill Gates’s top technology assistant for three years during the 2000s. One of his many duties was to handpick papers for Gates’s famed “Think Week,” a biannual tradition dating back to the 1980s in which Gates would sequester himself for seven days to recharge, read papers and books, and brainstorm ideas.

Gounares, known to many as “AlexGo,” joined Microsoft in 1993 as a software developer, after having worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory and several small companies, according to his bio on Microsoft’s website. He rose through the ranks in Redmond, working on major products such as Microsoft Office and the Tablet PC operating system (including digital pen and ink technologies). He moved on from his role as technology assistant to Gates, becoming vice president for corporate strategy before taking on his most recent role of vice president of advertising research and development, and then chief technology officer of Microsoft’s online services division.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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