5 August 2005 Microsoft has poached a senior executive from retail giant Wal-Mart to become its third most important executive, as it looks to strengthen its service operations. Kevin Turner, the CEO of Wal-Mart’s warehousing division – Sam’s Club – will join Microsoft on 8 September 2005 as its new COO.
Turner will take on the responsibility for Microsoft’s sales and marketing divisions and its information technology and fulfillment operations.
While Turner is coming from a retailer business to a software vendor, he has experience in technology having previously held the position of CIO at Wal Mart. “We will benefit immensely from [Turner’s] experience, proven record of success and passion for technology,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.
Turner will be the first COO at Microsoft for three years, following the departure of Rick Belluzzo in 2002. Belluzzo had been responsible for driving initiative such as the Microsoft’s MSN portal, and its games console, the Xbox. Turner’s brief is more central to the company’s core activities.
At the time of Belluzzo’s departure Ballmer announced there was no need for a COO. The decision to re-evaluate that position indicates that Microsoft is looking to strengthen its services, sales and marketing operations.
In three years at Sam’s Club, Turner reversed the wholesaler’s revenue decline by targeting the wholesaler’s core business customers. In the 2005 fiscal year, Sam’s reported a sales increase of 17.1% since he became CEO.
“I’ve worked with Microsoft for years as a customer and when you look at the incredible line up of innovative products and technologies Microsoft is poised to deliver over the next couple of years, it is a very exciting place in which to contribute and work to change the world,” said Turner.