Duane Forrester, the senior product manager in charge of webmaster outreach for Bing, has lost his job as part of the recently announced layoffs at Microsoft. The move leaves Bing without one of its longest-serving and recognizable faces to the SEO and publisher community.
Forrester posted the news on his blog today, saying he’s not upset with Microsoft over the change and happy that he’s made a positive contribution to companies and SEOs. From some of his post:
Microsoft announced changes within the structures of several groups in the company. My group was affected, and while I have natural concerns for my own future, I am now faced with saying goodbye to some talented friends and coworkers. It has been a pleasure to work beside, and learn from, these people. They are smart, dedicated and creative…not to mention a barrel of laughs!
I am confident in my own abilities and hopeful for each of those affected by yesterday’s layoffs. It happens. Companies make decisions every day. And while it may seem easy to quarterback things like this from a distance, I can state I feel no enmity. Not an ounce.
The last 7 years of work with Microsoft have been a gift. I have learned, made new friends, traveled, helped build successful products and in some small way, I think, helped make a difference, a positive difference, for businesses, consultants and SEOs worldwide. Tough to be bitter with anyone who enabled THAT in your life.
Forrester was the longest-serving publisher outreach spokesperson that Bing ever had, for nearly four years. He stepped into his role in January 2011, after previously having worked to oversee SEO at Microsoft.
In his time, Forrester — in my opinion — effectively stepped up to become the “Matt Cutts” of Bing. Cutts is the head of search quality for Google and who has served as the face to publishers and SEOs both online and in person at events for Google.
Cutts is well known for the crowds of people who would gather around whenever he would make a live appearance. Forrester never drew the same large crowds, which makes sense given Bing’s smaller marketshare compared to Bing. But he was definitely an attraction and easily held his own to promote and defend Bing, as well as poke at Google, during the times he and Cutts shared a stage.
As another sign of his popularity, Forrester was just named US Search Personality of the year earlier this month in the US Search Awards (the picture below from Forrester’s Flickr account shows him at the ceremony. He’s on the right; Stephan Spencer is on the left):
Microsoft had no comment about who would be taking over Forrester’s role or if there’s a broader impact on the Bing Webmaster Tools service. Forrester’s cut is part of the 3,000 layoffs Microsoft announced yesterday.
Forrester’s departure means both Bing and Google have lost their most visible faces for publishers and SEO this year. Matt Cutts went on leave from Google earlier this year and remains on that at least through the end of October. It’s unclear when exactly or if he’ll be returning.
All the best going forward, Duane, from those of us at Search Engine Land.
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