Javier Soltero has had a successful time at Microsoft. He joined the company when he sold them his startup, Acompli, in 2014. As the founder of an email app, it made sense for him to join lead the Outlook team, and he gradually worked his way up to CVP of the Office product group.
However, Soltero’s career has taken a somewhat unexpected move. Axios reports that the executive is now heading Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana. He will act as a corporate vice president, reporting to AI head Harry Schum and Cortana engineering CVP Andrew Shuman.
Thinking deeper, though, the move makes sense. Soltero has spurred great progress for Outlook, particularly on mobile. His expertise has made it one of Android’s most lauded email apps, with iOS not too far behind.
The Trust Factor
Despite its huge presence in the desktop market, Cortana isn’t seeing much usage. The stats seem to indicate that users simply don’t use speak their PC much. It’s more acceptable to shout at your phone than at a monitor, and that’s where Soltero’s skills lie.
He seems to believe it’s not just a matter of features, but trust.
“The real contest is about which company users will choose and entrust with essentially all of their information or the majority of their information,” he told Axios.
Microsoft hasn’t been without its privacy scandals, particularly with its Windows 10 telemetry. Like Google, Cortana saves every command you’ve said in a personal dashboard, and the data is anonymized and used by Microsoft for improvements.
It will be difficult to convince users that the company has their best interests at heart, but Soltero seems to relish the challenge. It’s about finding a balance between convenience and privacy, and a great mobile app would be a big step towards the former.