Chinese Balloon Shot Down Galaxy S23 Ultra: Hands-On Netflix Password-Sharing Crackdown Super Bowl Ads Google's Answer to ChatGPT 'Knock at the Cabin' Review 'The Last of Us' Episode 4 Foods for Mental Health
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

Investors yawn at Microsoft CFO resignation

Investors barely react to the news that Microsoft chief financial officer Greg Maffei has resigned to become chief executive of start-up Worldwide Fiber.

Investors barely reacted this morning to yesterday's news that Microsoft chief financial officer Greg Maffei had resigned to become chief executive of Worldwide Fiber, a privately held firm that specializes in building fiber optic networks.

Shares of Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft dipped in after-hours trading yesterday but closed today at 117.44, down just 0.12.

Analysts said that the market did not react to Maffei's resignation because the decision did not take them by surprise, and that the company would easily navigate the waters with new CFO John Connors.

"Since I have covered Microsoft, there have been three CFOs," said Laura Lederman, an analyst at investment banking firm William Blair. "We have lived through this transition before and it's been a yawn."

The software giant yesterday said that the resignation is effective Jan. 7 and that Maffei will be replaced by Connors. Connors has been with the company 11 years and is currently the vice president of the worldwide enterprise group.

"Greg's contributions have been outstanding," Microsoft chief operating officer Bob Herbold said in a statement. "His strong financial management abilities have helped Microsoft's finance organization to be recognized as world-class."

Connors brings a vast range of experience to the position of CFO. In his first year as chief information officer he trimmed $58 million off Microsoft's technology budget by improving efficiency. He also streamlined how Microsoft negotiates contracts.

Microsoft's worldwide enterprise group will temporarily report to Jeff Raikes.

Maffei's resignation was announced on the same day the software giant's market capitalization surpassed $600 billion. The company's stock has risen steadily in recent days on optimism over Windows 2000, the company's new operating system for businesses that will be released next year.

Maffei has been widely recruited in the technology industry this year. Senior positions at Time Warner's Road Runner unit, which provides high-speed bandwidth services, and Apple Computer were among the posts for which he was considered a potential candidate.

His departure from Microsoft could have been inspired by a need to find a new challenge, said analysts.

"It seems that he has gotten bored with his job, become [rich] and went looking for other opportunities. A person at that level would be racking up stock options like crazy," said Technology Business Research analyst Jim Garden.

"We are very excited to have Greg on board," David Lede, chairman of Worldwide Fiber, said in a statement. "We were looking for a leading executive and an established deal-maker who understands the convergence of software applications, the Internet and telecommunications."

In the same statement, Maffei said, "This is a great opportunity. Worldwide Fiber is very well-positioned to capitalize on the amazing growth in Internet and data traffic. It is well funded with abundant international assets and a very strong management team."

Vancouver-based Worldwide Fiber provides high-speed fiber-optic network products and services to telephone companies and ISPs. The company is constructing a 22,000-mile fiber-optic network in North America. The company also recently announced deals with Qwest and Williams Communications.

Formerly a division of Ledcor Industries, a Canadian construction firm, Worldwide Fiber was spun out as an independent company in 1998.

Maffei leaves some accounting practices behind that his successor will have to deal with, analysts said.

"A lot of companies get in trouble for recognizing revenue that didn't happen," Garden said. "In this case, they're on the other side of the fence for not recognizing revenue for some of their products. In essence, they're putting away revenue for a rainy day. In essence, the business has been even better than they have reported."

While there is nothing illegal about the practice, the Securities and Exchange Commission has been "on Microsoft because the amount is so large, around $4 billion," Garden said.

Microsoft could justify having an "unrecognized revenue" section on its balance sheet because of upgrade offers for Office 2000 and other products that customers could redeem in the future, analysts said.

Before taking over as CIO, Connors was Microsoft's controller for two years, making him responsible for producing the company's quarterly financial results and working with financial analysts.

Among other decisions, he ended the company's in-house development of software for internal use, opting to buy off-the-shelf packages. He also streamlined procurement, saving enough on $4 billion in purchase goods in 1998 to pay for a worldwide SAP roll out.

Microsoft president Steve Ballmer said Connors "has been a key member of Microsoft's senior management team for many years and now steps into the CFO role with a strong track record in financial management, information technologies, sales and marketing, and customer service."

CNET's Joe Wilcox and Scott Ard contributed to this report.