What We Can Learn from the Flight of Microsoft Execs to Amazon, AOL, GM, Nokia, Yahoo…and Micro VC

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for Yahoo (whose search partnership with Bing seems to be doing fine), I have no idea. Does anyone know what Yahoo’s strategy is these days?

—Alex Gounares to AOL (chief technology officer)

This might be the most interesting move of all. Whatever happened to AOL (NYSE: AOL)? The Internet company that Steve Case built (and Marc Andreessen and Jason Calacanis used to work for) has been in decline for most of the past decade. If anyone can help turn around its technology and business, it’s “AlexGo,” the former Microsoft vice president and technology advisor to Bill Gates who switched companies this summer. Look for New York-based AOL to start innovating again in online services, right the ship, and possibly even get acquired by Microsoft.

—Chris Liddell to General Motors (chief financial officer)

Microsoft’s former chief financial officer has been at his new post since the beginning of 2010. So far, so good. Last month, Detroit-based GM (NYSE: GM) reported its second straight quarterly profit. As the auto industry tries to rebound, and as automotive software systems become increasingly sophisticated, look for car companies to start being run a bit more like software companies—and to form more technology partnerships like Ford has done with Microsoft in areas like energy efficiency. Liddell, who reportedly drove a Ferrari to work in Redmond, could help spearhead the effort to streamline automotive business processes.

—Reed Sturtevant to Project 11 Ventures (co-founder with Katie Rae)

Closer to my home in Cambridge, MA, tech startup veteran Sturtevant, the former head of Microsoft Startup Labs (and previously with Eons and Idealab), has moved on since last year. Just last week, he announced his first investment with Project 11, a new Boston-area “accelerator program” and Web startup fund (currently being raised). Project 11 isn’t being billed as “micro VC” per se, but it’s part of that emerging sector of small, early-stage investment funds that blur the line between angel investing and venture capital. As for Sturtevant, this seems to be a case of once a startup guy, always a startup guy—big companies aren’t a good fit. But it’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, he brings to this new sector from his Microsoft experience.

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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