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January 29, 2007

Vista launch: First buyer an All Black?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 3:12 PM

NEW YORK -- We knew the first buyer of Vista would likely be in New Zealand or Australia because it was Jan. 30 there first. But Steve Ballmer let us know something a bit curious about that first sale.

"We've hit the ground running, starting with a first copy of the product," he told the launch party crowd. "I know we had one delivered in New Zealand to one of the members of the famous New Zealand rugby team, the All Blacks."

Hmmm. Who else on Microsoft's executive team has a connection to the All Blacks? That would be Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell. This from his company bio: "He has completed a number of triathlons and served as both governor of the New Zealand Sports Foundation and director of the New Zealand Rugby Union." He's even got a framed All Blacks jersey in his Redmond office, according to this story.

Alas, I've just been informed by a Microsoft PR guy that there's no connection between Liddell and that first sale. "Only metaphysical," Liddell said, according to the PR guy.

I happened to ask Liddell about his plans for the launch last week during an interview before Microsoft's second quarter earnings conference call.

Q: Is there any participation on the part of the company's CFO on some of this stuff? Are you going to be out somewhere?

Liddell: I have a secondary role. I'm going to New York with Bill and Steve so I'm planning on being part of that, but no, they keep me away from most of these events.

Q: They didn't even want to send you down to New Zealand?

Liddell: (laughs) ... Kevin Johnson who runs our platforms division is in Australia and we're launching there and we do have a lot of our senior executives going right around the world, but no I went for New York, not New Zealand.


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