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Originally published Friday, January 11, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Elop brings strong skills to take on competitors

Stephen Elop, who will replace Jeff Raikes at the head of one of Microsoft's most profitable and efficient units, has a reputation for "making...

Stephen Elop, who will replace Jeff Raikes at the head of one of Microsoft's most profitable and efficient units, has a reputation for "making the trains run on time," as one former employee put it.

Elop, 44, will succeed Raikes as president of the Microsoft Business Division. He starts at the end of the month. Raikes is scheduled to retire in September.

Elop resigned Thursday as chief operating officer at Juniper Networks, the Sunnyvale, Calif., network-equipment maker.

That experience will help Microsoft compete in the unified-communications business, where its chief rival is Cisco Systems, a Juniper competitor, said Sid Parakh, analyst with McAdams Wright Ragen.

Microsoft is also trying to build its Office software into a stronger platform for developers, said Rob Helm, director of research at Directions on Microsoft.

It will thus benefit from Elop's previous experience at Macromedia, whose Flash media player became a developer platform "on par with Microsoft" in terms of developers and users, if not dollars, Helm said.

In seven years at Macromedia, Elop headed worldwide sales (a title Raikes himself once held at Microsoft) before becoming CEO and orchestrating the company's acquisition by Adobe for $3.4 billion in 2005. He spent a year at Adobe before shifting to Juniper.

Chris Swenson, director of software-industry analysis at The NPD Group, worked at Macromedia during Elop's tenure and said Elop knew how to inspire and motivate those working under him.

"He had the nickname 'the general' and had a reputation for making the trains run on time," Swenson said in an e-mail.

— Benjamin J. Romano

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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