Styponias to lead Microsoft biz team

Prudential analyst takes general manager post

Wall Street media and entertainment analyst Kathy Styponias is going to Microsoft, where she will lead the business development team that forges partnerships with Hollywood.

Styponias, who worked for the past 12 years as the senior cable, entertainment and satellite equity analyst at Prudential Securities, is taking up the newly created post of general manager in the tech giant’s media and entertainment group. She reports to Blair Westlake, corporate VP in charge of the group.

She will lead a team focused primarily on acquiring content for Microsoft’s growing suite of digital media services, including Xbox Live and Zune.

By hiring Styponias, who is well known among media execs, Microsoft is signaling a renewed investment in its relationships with content providers, just as it did when former Universal Television chairman Westlake came over in 2004.

Though Wall Street analysts have a mixed history when moving to executive suites, Microsoft is counting on her broad set of relationships to be a key asset in her biz dev position.

Styponias left Prudential several weeks ago when the firm shuttered its research division, part of an accelerating trend as investment and research groups grow further apart.

Though she rarely staked out controversial positions, Wall Streeters say she wasn’t afraid of a downgrade where she thought one was warranted.

(Steve Zeitchik in New York contributed to this report.)

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