Industry Moves: Microsoft’s Search Guru Brad Goldberg Turns VC

And another one bites the dust. Brad Goldberg, Microsoft’s GM for Live Search, is leaving to head up the online business at Peak6, a Chicago-based investment firm. TechFlash confirmed the news with a Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) exec who said the departure was “amicable.” The company will replace Goldberg with Mike Nichols (who has experience working with online services exec Yusuf Mehdi).

Still, Goldberg is leaving on the heels of two other key executive departures: Brian McAndrews, who oversaw a large portion of Microsoft’s online division, and Bill Shaughnessy, who’s resigning as global VP of sales — meaning the company’s online services, overall sales and now search divisions will all be under new management. The changes may be part of a stealthy reorg in the wake of Microsoft’s appointment of Qi Lu as head of digital, as none of these new departures were mentioned in the release that detailed the realignment of several teams.

During his stint as Live Search’s GM, Goldberg launched a number of unique initiatives aimed at helping Microsoft gain search market share, including the casual game-based Live Search Club, and the Cashback and Search Perks programs. But Live Search still lags far behind both Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) in terms of market share (it owned just 8.5 percent of all queries in October, compared to Google’s 63 percent and Yahoo’s 20 percent, per comScore), so even with the search- and engineering-savvy Lu’s guidance, Goldberg’s successor Nichols will have his work cut out for him.

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