Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell will become the vice chairman and chief financial officer of General Motors in 2010, with plans to step down from his position at Microsoft on Dec. 31. Liddell's title as vice chairman at General Motors will presumably give him more leverage in helping steer the battered automaker. Liddell enacted several cost-cutting measures at Microsoft in 2009 in an attempt to bolster the company's bottom line as the recession forced it into a pattern of declining revenues.
Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell will become the vice chairman and chief
financial officer of General Motors in 2010, according to a Dec. 21 statement
released by the auto company.
Liddell is leaving Microsoft on Dec. 31. As chief of Microsoft's finance
organization, he oversaw acquisitions, corporate strategy, treasury activities,
tax planning, accounting and reporting, internal audit, and investor relations.
Presumably, he will perform similar functions at General Motors, although the
statement did not delineate the particulars of his new position.
"Chris brings a depth and experience to this job that were unmatched in
our search for a new financial leader," Ed Whitacre, General Motors
chairman and CEO, said in the statement.
"Chris will lead our financial and accounting operations on a global basis
and will report directly to me. We're also looking to his experience and
insights in corporate strategy as a member of the senior leadership team in helping
our restructuring efforts."
Although Microsoft experienced a challenging year in 2009, its problems are
arguably eclipsed by those of General Motors, which has lately seen sales of
many of its vehicle lines fall precipitously along with its revenues and
The position of vice chairman, one can surmise, will give Liddell increased
boardroom leverage to enact any ideas about corporate restructuring. For some
executives, that could be worth a move from the Pacific Northwest
Liddell was named one of the "25
most influential people at Microsoft" in an eWEEK article,
described him as running "one of the fiscally tightest ships on the
planet" and continuing "Microsoft's long tradition of frugality while
embracing a new era of risk."
As the recession battered Microsoft's revenues throughout 2009, the company
enacted several cost-cutting measures under Liddell's watch, including laying
off 5,000 employees.
In an Oct. 23 earnings call, Microsoft reported revenues of $12.92 billion,
a 14 percent decline year-over-year from 2008, but nonetheless still stronger
than expected. Liddell said during the call that the company had maintained
cost discipline, "which allowed us to drive strong earnings performance
despite continued tough overall economic conditions."
But economic conditions don't get much tougher than at General Motors.