- Wikimedia Commons
When Microsoft bought the tiny startup Acompli in 2014, it didn’t just get the app that would become Outlook for iPhone and Android – it got Javier Soltero, the former Acompli CEO who’s now one of Microsoft’s biggest agents of internal cultural change.
At Microsoft, Soltero has worked to bring a more Silicon Valley mentality of adding new features and iterating on apps quickly, making him a key player in CEO Satya Nadella’s master plan to reform the company’s culture to stay relevant in the post-iPhone world.
Not everyone at Microsoft is so receptive to that message, though. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Jay Greene, Soltero says that sometimes his new colleagues at the company just wouldn’t accept that Microsoft needs to stay strategically nimble or risk falling behind.
About a year after joining Microsoft, Soltero told The Journal, he gave an internal presentation warning that Microsoft was resting on its laurels in the email space, and that an increasing number of customers were moving away from its Exchange and Outlook programs and into web equivalents like Google’s G Suite.
Soltero said that without drastic action to improve its own email products, Microsoft could slide into irrelevancy like Lotus Notes, once a major player in corporate email software but now a footnote to history.
At least some employees were unreceptive. Soltero says he got emails accusing him of being “disrespectful of the legacy” of Microsoft and its email business.
- REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
“I think the suggestion that we weren’t winning was a painful one for them to hear,” Soltero told The Journal.
Soltero is a rising star at Microsoft. While he was originally tasked with leading Outlook on mobile devices, it took less than a year before he was put in charge of Outlook on all platforms. In November, he was promoted to oversee strategy for Microsoft Office overall.
In general, and as The Journal reports in a broader sense, Nadella and his executive team have turned to the talent that Microsoft has gotten from acquisitions to bring an outside voice to insider decision-making. An as part of that effort, Microsoft has been pushing talent like Soltero up through the ranks faster than usual.