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Raikes tapped as Gates Foundation CEO

Longtime Microsoft executive, who earlier this year announced plans to retire from the software giant, calls new post "truly a dream job."

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said on Monday that longtime Microsoft executive Jeff Raikes will be the organization's next chief executive.

Raikes announced in January he would be stepping down as president of Microsoft's Business Division, the unit that includes Office. In an interview with CNET at the time, he had said he expected his next job would be outside the technology arena.

Jeff Raikes
Jeff Raikes will become the CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in September. Microsoft

"This is truly a dream job," Raikes said in a conference call with reporters. Although Raikes is known for his work at Microsoft, he has also been active in charitable efforts in the Seattle area, particularly the United Way. "I certainly have much to learn, but being able to work with such a tremendous team will be exciting for me."

Raikes, who will start September 2, succeeds Patty Stonesifer, who also once worked for Microsoft. The foundation announced in February that Stonesifer would be shifting to a new role.

Asked about the thinking in naming another Microsoft executive to head the foundation, co-chair Melinda Gates said that was something she and Bill Gates spent a lot of time thinking about. She noted that the foundation used an executive search firm and looked at 150 candidates before settling on Raikes.

"Microsoft and the foundation are clearly two separate entities," Melinda Gates said. But in the end, she said, they decided that what the foundation needed was a strong leader with ambition and a proven track record of handling complex projects.

Raikes said he sees a lot of common ground between his work at Microsoft and what he will do at the foundation.

"At Microsoft (we use) the magic of software to take on interesting challenges," Raikes said. "Here you have a similar situation where the use of science and technology and systems thinking is applied to take on very tough problems in society."

While he said he has some getting up to speed to do in terms of the subject area, Raikes said the foundation is in a high-growth mode, looking to grow substantially beyond its current 500-person workforce. He said he learned something about managing large and fast-growing entities during his time at Microsoft.