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Microsoft hires former Uber exec to lead a new consumer apps effort

Microsoft is hiring Manik Gupta, the former head of product at Uber, in a renewed effort to boost Microsoft’s consumer apps. Gupta will be responsible for Microsoft Teams consumer, Skype, and GroupMe, and he will report directly to Jeff Teper, Microsoft’s head of Microsoft 365 collaboration.

Gupta spent four years at Uber running the various teams that contribute to the Uber app, and he also oversaw product management for Google Maps for seven years. While Gupta has a lot of experience in maps, that’s not why he’s joining Microsoft. The software giant appears to be keen to tap into his wealth of experience in consumer-focused apps.

“Manik’s experience… will be invaluable to us building world-class consumer experiences across all of Microsoft,” says Teper in an internal memo, obtained by The Verge. Teper’s memo makes it clear that Microsoft has big ambitions for getting consumers into using Teams, and other opportunities to create communities or apps focused on consumers.

Microsoft has been trying to acquire popular communities recently, including TikTok, Pinterest, and Discord. While all three services are very different, they all share a common community element which, outside of Xbox, Microsoft lacks. Rivals like Google, Amazon, Facebook have all acquired big consumer apps like YouTube, Twitch, and Instagram, and Microsoft knows it needs something similar.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella seems focused on creators and communities, and how best to leverage the cloud to have a consumer-focused app or community. “Creation, creation, creation — the next 10 years is going to be as much about creation as it is about consumption and about the community around it, so it’s not creating alone,” said Nadella in an interview with Bloomberg earlier this year.

It’s a shift that has been years in the making at Microsoft, after the company killed off its Groove Music service, gave up on Mixer, officially discontinued Kinect, scrapped its Microsoft Band fitness device, and finally admitted Windows Phone was dead. With the exception of Xbox, Microsoft has had a tough time with consumers, and Microsoft has been trying to alter that over the past few years.

In an internal memo today, Nadella makes it clear Microsoft is focused on consumer products again. “I want us to go after these new opportunities with both ambition and clarity of long-term product vision. Building new capability inside our organization to drive ‘consumer-grade’ product ethos will be key to our success.”

Although Teper’s memo doesn’t directly mention it, Gupta’s role means he’ll have to tackle the delicate balance of Teams for consumers, Skype, and GroupMe, and whether Microsoft will combine these services into a single effort or not. It increasingly looks like Microsoft is more focused on Teams than Skype for consumers, and it’s easy to forget that Microsoft still runs GroupMe.

Windows 11, which should arrive in October, includes Microsoft Teams integration in what Teper describes as “one of the most important milestones for us to delight users and grow our consumer business.” This type of Teams integration looks like an early hint at where Microsoft will focus most of its consumer efforts in the future.

Here’s the full internal memo from Jeff Teper, head of Microsoft 365 collaboration:
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