The search world was in for a surprise this morning when it was formally announced the Jim Lanzone will replace Steve Berkowitz as Senior Vice President of Microsoft Online Services which includes the Live.com search engine. Berkowitz had previously announced that he would be stepping down in August of 2008, but last week he indicated he would be leaving earlier for personal reasons and would announce a successor. Berkowitz quickly announced Jim Lanzone as his formal successor early this morning. Many have speculated recently that Lanzone and Berkowitz had been co-horting for sometime to eventually bring Lanzone over to Microsoft. Both men had previously held the position as CEO of Ask and it was not hard for both of their names to be mentioned in the same sentence over the last few years. Berkowitz had been known to criticize Google in the past with comments that Google was the model T of search and needed to evolve. It's expected Jim Lanzone will follow suit with similar Google colloquialisms once he takes Berkowitz's place in the next few weeks.
Lanzone who recently left Ask.com had been replaced by Jim Safka in January 2008. Ask embarked on a new course in March that included the layoff of 40 employees and a refocusing of its' search engine towards 30-something women, a decision many were not happy about. Lanzone will have some big shoes to fill replacing Berkowitz at such an important time in Microsofts steady advance on Yahoo and its' grab on the search business it feels it deserves.