Brad Smith is Now the Vice Chairman of Microsoft

Posted on September 15, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft with 9 Comments

The Microsoft board of directors has approved company president Brad Smith to be its new vice chairman. He will continue as president and will continue to report to CEO Satya Nadella.

“This reflects the unique leadership role that Brad plays for the company, our board of directors, and me, with governments and other external stakeholders around the world,” Mr. Nadella said.

Smith joined Microsoft in 1993, but his big move into the spotlight came in 2002 when he was promoted to general counsel and became a senior vice president. During that time, he oversaw Microsoft’s many regulatory difficulties and he presented a much more conciliatory stance to regulators than Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer had.

But Smith has had a higher and more public profile under Mr. Nadella. He was promoted to the role of president and chief legal officer by Nadella in 2015 and has since been responsible for Microsoft’s corporate, compliance, external, and legal activities. And as a lobbyist for Microsoft, he often pens public-facing policy communications. He is also the co-author of the book “Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age.”

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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Brad Smith is Now the Vice Chairman of Microsoft”

  1. madthinus

    This is bad corporate governance per international standards so it is a curious choice. Internationally, if the CEO is the chairman, you are strongly advised to have strong independent board members.

    • bshaw

      This is NOT bad corporate governance! Out of 13 directors, Smith and Nadella are the only insiders. Look over the board, and I think you will find that there are no lightweights and they are strongly independent

    • hrlngrv

      | strong independent board members

      And you believe that's the rule rather than the exception?

      Before the 2008 financial sector meltdown, do you have idea how much overlap there was between the boards of Bear Stearns, AIG, Citi Group, etc? Consider the corporations for which Maurice R 'Hank' Greenberg was an outside director then check how many of the CEOs for those corporations were outside directors for AIG.

    • Llehs

      Well he isn’t actually on the board. He is Vice Chairman of the company

  2. james.h.robinson

    What makes you think they don't?

  3. nine54

    It's curious and interesting that the company's top lawyer seems to be such a public-facing figure.

    • bluvg

      Having a in-house counsel in the top ranks offering advice is a common trend for businesses for a variety of reasons, especially regulatory/compliance-related. Many might assume this is anti-consumer, but that's an unfair characterization. For example, Microsoft legal fought for their customers in the US v. Microsoft data privacy case (FBI warrant to turn over emails stored in Ireland). Brad Smith has also proven his tech savviness in his writings and actions.

      • nine54

        Yeah, I definitely understand his importance to the company and why, more generally, companies like MSFT are elevating this type of legal role. And I'm not saying we shouldn't hear from him; rather, it just feels like we hear more from him than we do guys on the product side. But, you might have hit the nail on the head regarding his tech savviness.

  4. hrlngrv

    Nothing says MATURE CORPORATION like promoting the lawyers to senior management.

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