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Ray Ozzie: Bill Gates' Fifth Guy

When Microsoft formally acquires Groove Networks next quarter, Groove founder Ray Ozzie, an outspoken advocate of peer-to-peer virtual workspaces and a collaboration software pioneer, will join Bill Gates' personal stable of big thinkers.
Ray Ozzie, collaboration CTO
Ray Ozzie, founder of Groove Networks, steps into a CTO of collaboration role at Microsoft. Source: Microsoft.

Ozzie will become one of three chief technical officers reporting directly to Gates. In his role as chief software architect, Gates now has five direct reports: senior vice president of research Rick Rashid, senior vice president of engineering strategy Jon DeVaan and CTOs Ozzie, Craig Mundie and David Vaskevitch. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer also reports to Gates in the Microsoft co-founder's role as Microsoft chairman. All other high-level Microsoft executives report to Ballmer.

Ozzie founded Groove Networks, a Windows-centric and Office-focused collaboration company, in 1997. Before that, Ozzie helped create Lotus Notes. Microsoft has kept an eye on Ozzie for a long time, in 1994 naming him a Windows Pioneer, an honor bestowed on only seven outsiders.

"I look forward to working with Craig, David and the other top minds here at Microsoft to help shape the company's corporate-wide communication and collaboration offerings and associated platform infrastructure," Ozzie said in a statement. Collaboration will be Ozzie's official technology bucket as CTO. Mundie focuses on advanced strategies and policies, while Vaskevitch concentrates on the business platform.

He will continue to influence the direction of the Groove technology, but his higher perch will allow him to think more broadly about collaboration potential across the most widely deployed software stack in the world.

Direct responsibility for integrating Groove's products and 200 people into the Microsoft Office System falls to Jeff Raikes, group vice president for the information worker business. "Ray's innovation and leadership in the area of collaboration will prove invaluable as we bring Groove into the Office System and look for ways to apply Ray's thinking about the future of information work and collaboration to projects we are working on elsewhere at Microsoft," Raikes said. "We're equally excited about the team of incredible talent Ray brings with him -- including fellow Groove founders Eric Patey, Ken Moore and Ray's brother, Jack Ozzie."

Of that team of new Microsoft talent, Ozzie notes that in 15 years of working together at Groove, Lotus and IBM (which acquired Lotus), "We've discovered that collaboration technology is fairly tough to get right: It lives at the intersection of technology, social dynamics and organizational dynamics. We hope to apply that knowledge not only to Microsoft Office System productivity technologies but also, given the opportunity, across a range of Microsoft offerings."

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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