Microsoft Appoints Smith First Company-wide President in 13 Years
Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer, Microsoft. (Photo: Microsoft)

Microsoft Appoints Smith First Company-wide President in 13 Years

Former general counsel helped reform the company’s long-standing aggressive legal posture


This post originally appeared at The Var Guy

By DH Kass

Microsoft, which hasn’t had a company-wide president since 2002, elevated Brad Smith, its top lawyer and 22-year company veteran, to president and chief legal officer.

Smith, who helped reform the company’s long-standing aggressive legal posture, slides into the slot last occupied by Rick Belluzzo in 2002. Smith was promoted to general counsel that year as the vendor famously battled with anti-trust regulators, bitter rivals including its now-collaborator Apple and foreign lawmakers, at times settling cases or making deals involving billions of dollars.

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, in an internal company email, said Smith will continue his legal responsibilities and, in his new role will “lead the work needed to accelerate initiatives that are important to our mission and reputation such as privacy, security, accessibility, environmental sustainability and digital inclusion, to start.”

Smith has played a key role in Microsoft's ongoing legal battle with US law enforcement officials over access to a Microsoft customer's emails stored in the company's Dublin, Ireland, data center.

Nadella said Smith “will work with me and others on the senior leadership team in the coming weeks to help us organize ourselves for success, identifying the right way to have impact on these cross-company initiatives.”

In addition, he thanked Smith for his “ongoing contributions to Microsoft–I learn from you constantly and deeply value your advice,” he said. “You exemplify the growth mindset that we’re working so hard to permeate our culture. You look for new opportunities, you listen, you learn and you push us forward. I look forward to what you will do in the years ahead.”

Lawyers on Smith’s team will pick up some of his regular legal responsibilities, Nadella said.

Smith’s appointment to president comes some three months after Nadella enacted a wide-ranging structural overhaul, named a new 12-person senior leadership team that handed more responsibility to Windows head Terry Myerson and showed the door to Stephen Elop, head of its devices business.

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