Microsoft TV, aiming to crack the U.S. cable market as much as it can, added a high-profile name to its executive lineup last week, snaring Cox Communications Inc.'s Lynne Elander as general manager of marketing.
Elander spent 15 years at Cox, and was most recently vice president of video product development, a perch that landed her in the middle of developing Cox's VOD, HDTV and digital video recorder plans. All three services are key to cable operators' video growth plans, and those three services play a central role in the guide products Microsoft TV is developing.
"I am excited to bring Lynne on board as a key member of the Microsoft TV executive team, bringing even more cable experience to the division," Microsoft TV corporate vice president Moshe Lichtman.
Word of her departure surfaced last Tuesday at the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit in Seattle, after friends among Cox vendors began forwarding an e-mail message from Elander, in which she said she'd made the "very difficult" decision to leave.
Elander, who won a 2003 Vanguard Award for young leadership in cable, was very popular at Cox. An executive there said last Thursday that Elander's boss, senior vice president of strategy and development Dallas Clement, opened a staff meeting last Thursday by asking who in the room was sad that Elander was leaving, and that every hand was raised.
She's expected to bring more credibility to Microsoft's cable efforts. Earlier iterations of guide products and software met with technical problems and stiff resistance from U.S. cable operators. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledged as much at the CTAM Summit, saying the software giant didn't fully account for the legacy box issues cable faced when first designing guide and interactive products years ago — products that exceeded the firepower of what lower-level boxes could handle.
Microsoft TV's new IPG and TV Foundation Edition has picked up some early support, with both Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable agreeing to test the product on Motorola Inc.'s DCT-2000 series platform.
Elander will be responsible for worldwide marketing, but past history suggests Microsoft needs the most help here in the U.S.
Elander will be based in Redmond, Wash., and will begin work Aug. 11. Microsoft TV said Elander's hiring raised the cable-experience quotient of Microsoft TV's executive to 90 years.
Cox has not yet named a replacement yet.