Microsoft's Latest Hire Could Help 'Drive the Future of Commerce'

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A major e-commerce expert has jumped ship to another Seattle-area giant, as Microsoft (MSFT) has hired Iain Kennedy as its new Senior Director of Product Management on the company's Commerce Platform Strategy team. For the past six years, Kennedy had a similar position at Amazon (AMZN) as manager of that company's local consumer commerce team.

Pacific Crest Securities' analyst Brendan Barnicle thinks Kennedy's hiring by Microsoft is an "interesting move," noting his prior experience. "Kennedy is a payment guy and Microsoft hadn't done much with payments in the past," Barnicle said in a phone conversation. "But with Visa (V) , MasterCard (MC) and Apple (APPL) in the mix," Barnicle believes Microsoft is being spurred into action.

According to a new posting on his personal LinkedIn page Kennedy says simply he's now "Driving the future of commerce at Microsoft" and to "watch this space" for more information.

Kennedy is the second important payments expert to join Microsoft in the past few days. Last week, the company announced Visa CEO Charles W. Scharf is joining Microsoft's Board of Directors on October 1st.

Microsoft shares were down 0.80% to $47.14, while shares of Amazon were off nearly 3% to $322.11 in midday trading in New York.

Before leading the commerce team at Amazon, Kennedy managed that company's Global Payments teams including the Consumer Payments Marketing and and User Experience Design. In his previous job description, Kennedy wrote, "The Amazon Local Commerce team is charged with extending Amazon's value proposition (price, selection, and convenience) from e-commerce to commerce in general. I led the product team for Consumer Products in Seattle, WA and San Francisco, CA."

Before his stint at Amazon, Kennedy has spent three years at American Express (AXP) as Senior Marketing and Product Manager in charge of "customer experience" and "loyalty" strategies.

Daniel Ives, analyst with FBR Capital Markets believes the hiring shows what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella plans to do with the company and bring "new blood" into the mix.

In a phone interview, Ives said the move signals the fact that mobile and cloud projects are important to the company going forward. "Nadella needs to be aggressive with the company to fuel the next layer of growth for both enterprise and consumer products," he added.

-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.


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Gary Krakow is TheStreet's Senior Technology Correspondent.

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