The Channel

Donald Trump? No, it's BRAD SMITH for president (of Microsoft)

Redmond's top lawyer gets expanded role

By Neil McAllister in San Francisco


Microsoft top legal beagle Brad Smith has been promoted to president of the company, marking the first time Redmond has had a company-wide president since 2002.

Smith's expanded role also sees him taking the title of chief legal officer, an upgrade from his previous position as Microsoft's general counsel.

In an internal memo obtained by The Register, CEO Satya Nadella said Smith's team will take on new day-to-day legal responsibilities so that his own time can be freed to concentrate more on policy matters.

"Brad has long had a broad role at the company and now I'm asking him to lead more new initiatives working closely with his peers on the Senior Leadership Team," Nadella wrote. "I'll look to Brad to play a bigger role in strengthening our external relationships and representing the company publicly."

Smith has already been the public face of Microsoft when it comes to legal matters. For example, it was he who spearheaded the software giant's effort to avoid having to turn over data hosted in its Ireland data centers to US authorities, even going as far as to pen an editorial in the Wall Street Journal. Arguments in that matter were heard this week in a New York City court.

The Register sat down with Smith at a meeting at Microsoft's Redmond campus in recent weeks, and he explained that legal matters are of increasing importance to technology companies, particularly in light of the ascendance of the cloud.

"People won't use technology they don't trust," Smith said. "And so for us, it's an imperative as a company that we put trust at the core of technology."

Smith said Microsoft is committed to keeping customers' data secure and in their own control, and that short of breaking the law, Redmond is committed to enforcing those principles.

"We're putting our money and our legal resources and our public voice and even our reputation behind this," Smith told The Reg.

Balancing privacy and government surveillance won't be Smith's only area of focus in his new role, though. In his memo, Nadella specifically named "privacy, security, accessibility, environmental sustainability and digital inclusion" as top priorities for Smith, going forward. ®

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