Jessica Heygate
Oct 29, 2023

Microsoft’s longtime CMO Chris Capossela to depart

CEO Satya Nadella said ‘this is the right time’ for a new CMO to shepherd the company through its AI evolution.

Chris Capossela is exiting Microsoft after more than three decades. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
Chris Capossela is exiting Microsoft after more than three decades. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Microsoft’s longtime chief marketing officer Chris Capossela is leaving the company after more than three decades to make room for a new leader to shepherd the company through its artificial intelligence (AI) evolution.

CEO Satya Nadella announced the news on Thursday, writing in a blog post that Capossela’s succession plan had been in the works “for some time.”

“As this new era of AI is upon us, we’ve decided this is the right time to put that plan into action,” he wrote.

Capossela will be replaced by Takeshi Numoto, also a long-serving staffer who has been Microsoft’s commercial chief marketing officer since 2020, responsible for marketing the company's commercial offerings. He previously oversaw marketing for Microsoft’s cloud products and Office 365.

Nadella called Numoto a “fantastic systems thinker who works end-to-end across all functions from engineering to finance to operations to sales.”

In other changes, Yusuf Mehdi has been promoted to the senior leadership team as EVP, consumer CMO, reporting to Numoto. He will lead marketing of the company’s Copilot AI assistant. Mehdi was previously a corporate VP and has served with Microsoft for more than 30 years.

Capossela said in a thread on X he will support Numoto and Mehdi’s transitions into their new roles “in the short term.”

“Looking ahead, I’m excited to figure out the next chapter of my life,” he said.

Capossela departs after nearly 10 years overseeing worldwide marketing for Microsoft’s consumer and commercial businesses.

In his more than 32 years at the company, he has helped steer Microsoft’s brand through various evolutions, including its foray into social networking with its purchase of LinkedIn and its transition from on-premises to the cloud.

Under his stewardship, Microsoft has catapulted to become one of the top three most valuable brands in the world, with a brand value somewhere between $278 billion and $502 billion, according to Interbrand and Kantar’s valuations.

For his contribution, Capossela was featured on Campaign US’ CMO 50 this year.

Yet the evolution that Microsoft has embarked upon this year is perhaps its biggest to date, as it transforms its software and search engine into conversational interfaces thanks to its early investments in OpenAI.

At the same time, Microsoft recently closed one of the tech industry’s largest acquisitions ever with its $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard — significantly expanding its gaming empire.

Nadella said on Thursday he had shifted Microsoft’s consumer sales organization to report to gaming CEO Phil Spencer to “realize our growth potential” in the gaming business.

Microsoft’s chief brand officer Kathleen Hall recently discussed with Campaign US the “exponential scope” of the company’s gaming empire as well as the applications of its generative AI tools, which are transforming not only the user experience of its software products but also its internal processes, including how it conceptualizes marketing.

Microsoft’s chief product officer Panos Panay left last month to lead Amazon’s devices and services business.

Campaign US

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