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Go2Net tabs Microsoft exec CFO

Go2Net Inc. (Nasdaq: GNET) said Wednesday that it hired Microsoft Corp. executive Rick Thompson to be its chief financial officer.

Russell Horowitz, Go2Net's CEO, had been pulling double duty as CEO and CFO.

Thompson, who has been with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) for more than 12 years, will play a big role Go2Net's operational, financial and strategic activities, including investments, acquisitions, and partnerships, the company said.

In addition to running sites such as MetaCrawler search engine and the Silicon Investor, Go2Net also licenses its technology and takes a slice of transaction revenue from e-commerce partners. Thompson will be expected to help integrate Go2Net's various strategic goals.

Thompson will also have a lot of work to do on the acquisition front. Horowitz said following Go2Net's earnings Monday that the company is stepping up its acquisition strategy.

After market close Monday, Go2Net reported fiscal second quarter net income of $8.3 million, or 18 cents per share, not counting goodwill writedowns. First Call's survey of six analysts predicted a profit of 11 cents per share.

Thompson had been the vice president of Microsoft's Hardware Group, where he had responsibility for the company's $600 million peripherals business.

Thompson's most recent credits included getting Microsoft into the game console business, Go2Net said. In March, Microsoft announced its X-box videogame console that is designed to compete with market leaders Sony and Nintendo.

As for Microsoft, Thompson is the latest in a long line of defections. Microsoft has publicly downplayed employee retention concerns, but has reportedly stepped up its recruiting efforts.

When asked if Microsoft was concerned about employee retention as shares slip and the antitrust tussle drags on, CEO Steve Ballmer said, "I've never known a Microsoft employee who was unhappy with their stock options."

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