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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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March 12, 2009 9:47 AM

Billionaire Bill, down $18 billion, is back on top of Forbes list

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Scroogeswim.jpg The Forbes list of the world's richest people is practically a rite of spring around here. Are we home to the richest, second richest or, gasp, third richest person in the world? This year, as billionaires around the world saw their fortunes cut by the global economic downturn, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates lost the least among the top three -- $18 billion -- and edged back to the top spot on the list with about $40 billion in his money bin. Gates' friend and partner-in-philanthropy Warren Buffett is No. 2 on the list, with $37 very large. (He had moved to No. 1 in last year's survey.) Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim Helu, who surpassed Gates as world's richest in summer 2007 (by a different estimate), is third on the global list with $35 billion. Another software titan, Larry Ellison of Oracle, leaped from 14th in 2008 to 4th, at $22.5 billion.

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Comments | Category: Bill Gates , Compensation , Financial , Miscellaneous , Personalities , Philanthropy , Steve Ballmer , Tech Economy |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 9, 2009 6:04 AM

Profile: Kirill Tatarinov, head of Microsoft Business Solutions

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

From today's paper, a profile of Kirill Tatarinov, corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft Business Solutions:

Even with somewhere north of $1 billion in annual sales, Microsoft Business Solutions is dwarfed by the enormous Office business that it shares space with in the company's quarterly reports.


But Kirill Tatarinov, the group's leader since July 2007, said MBS brings more to the broader Microsoft than revenue from its Dynamics-branded systems, which manage a company's customer relationships, suppliers, inventory and other business basics.

It provides a "proof point to business decision makers" using the whole set of Microsoft server technologies, Tatarinov said. The Dynamics products "take advantage of all the innovation that's happening" on Windows Server, Visual Studio, Office and other major products Microsoft sells to businesses.

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Comments | Category: Corporate culture , Corporate organization , Personalities , Strategy |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 2, 2009 10:55 PM

Who is Phil Palios, organizer of the Microsoft contract worker protest?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


DEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Phil Palios holds a hastily made sign while protesting a 10 percent rate cut for Microsoft temporary workers. The Redmond native who has always wanted to work at Microsoft organized a protest Monday night that drew about two dozen temporary workers.

Phil Palios grew up in Redmond watching Microsoft grow. It's where he always wanted to work. He was glad to have the opportunity to get a foot in the door as a contractor. But he became disillusioned with the size of the company today and the way it treats its workers, particularly those who are hired through third-party employment agencies. When his employer, Volt, passed on the news Friday that all contractors would have to take a 10 percent pay cut -- for him it would mean going from $34.25 an hour to about $30.83 -- Palios had had enough.

"I had no intention of accepting a 10 percent pay cut," Palios said in an interview Monday afternoon at Victor's Coffee in downtown Redmond, before attending a rare, albeit small, labor protest at Microsoft that evening. "So I viewed it as, I am not going to accept this pay cut. They might let me go sooner. I might get black-listed or something, but I wanted to at least act and make my voice heard and try to unite the workers and have them realize that if they form an alliance -- it doesn't have to be a union, if they just work together -- they can have a lot more power and open up communication channels with the company."

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Comments | Category: Coming and going , Compensation , Microsoft layoffs , Personalities |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 4, 2009 2:52 PM

Gates releases mosquitoes at tech confab, Web has field day

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


Steve Jurvetson/flickr

An image of Gates at TED, captured by venture capitalist Steve Jurveston with a Blackberry and posted on flickr.

I'm trying to verify this with the press office of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but if the reports streaming in from Twitter are to be believed Bill Gates just released mosquitoes into a crowd of smart, rich people to make a point about malaria. He then said to the audience at TED, an exclusive conference on technology, entertainment and design, "Not only poor people should experience this," according to several reports.

[Update, 3:19 p.m.: Some Tweets (or Twits, your call) suggest that Gates only pretended to release the mosquitoes. But an official-looking TED Twitter account posted this update about an hour ago: "#TED Confirmed: yes they were real mosquitoes. No they were not malarial. An amazing TED moment."]

The digs are coming in along these lines, "Well, anyone who uses M. Gates' products already knows he has no shortage of bugs to spread around." (From Gawker comments.)

Comments | Category: Bill Gates , Gates Foundation , Personalities , Philanthropy , Public policy & issues |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 28, 2009 10:38 AM

Bartz on selling parts of Yahoo: 'This is not a company that needs to be pulled apart and left for the chickens'

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Carol Bartz, Yahoo's new CEO, was peppered Tuesday with questions about a potential search deal with Microsoft or another go at partnering with AOL-Time Warner. Here are some of her choice exchanges with financial analysts during a conference call after the Internet company reported a loss in the fourth quarter.

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Comments | Category: Personalities , Search , Yahoo , Yahoo acquisition |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 7, 2009 11:55 PM

CES: Q&A with Microsoft entertainment boss Robbie Bach

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

LAS VEGAS -- Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, talked about layoffs ("you won't hear us comment"), the great 2008 for Xbox and its impact on profitability, Microsoft's deal with Verizon Wireless (creating a good mobile search experience is the key), where entertainment fits in Microsoft's mobile strategy and more. Read on for a condensed transcript of my conversation with him Wednesday afternoon.

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Comments | Category: Consumer Electronics Show , Games & entertainment , Mobile , Music , Personalities , Xbox 360 , Zune |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 2, 2009 9:21 AM

Microsofties run, bus to work

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


JIM BATES / THE SEATTLE TIMES

David Treadwell runs and catches the bus across the 520 bridge on his exercise commute between home on Queen Anne and work in Redmond.

David Treadwell, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Live Platform Services, covers up to 12 miles of the distance between his Seattle home and company headquarters in Redmond on foot. He takes the bus for the balance of the commute -- typically the span of the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge. This unusual run-bus commute is featured in a profile today by Seattle Times reporter Richard Seven.

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Comments | Category: Commuting , Personalities |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 19, 2008 9:16 AM

A very 'Halo' wedding

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Halo Bride and Groom.jpg

Desirai Labrada and John Henry met in December 2004 on Xbox Live. They were playing "Halo 2," the blockbuster second installment of the game series from Kirkland-based Bungie and Microsoft that helped fuel growth of Microsoft's video game business. She was in New York, he was in Florida. They logged on daily to play together, blasting away as love blossomed.

Now, they're planning a "Halo"-themed wedding for a gaming show in January. And their school -- Full Sail University, an entertainment-focused institution near Orlando -- sent out a press release to announce it. (Engagement photo of Labrada and Henry distributed by Full Sail University.)

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Comments | Category: Digital media , Games & entertainment , Halo , Miscellaneous , Online Communities , Personalities |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 10, 2008 7:39 AM

Profile: Qi Lu, Microsoft's incoming Online Services Group president

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Check out this profile of Qi Lu, the former Yahoo search executive who is taking over a critical group at Microsoft in January, from today's paper. Also, after the jump, Microsoft has published its own Q&A with Lu, covering his reasons for coming to Microsoft, how Steve Ballmer recruited him, what opportunities he sees for Microsoft in search and more.

If Microsoft has to climb over or through Yahoo to get to Google in the Internet search business, there are few people better positioned than Qi Lu to lead the way.

Named last week as president of Microsoft's Online Services Group, Lu brings with him practically the entire history of Yahoo's search efforts.

"Qi was there from the very beginning," said a former Yahoo colleague who worked closely with him for several years and agreed to speak about Lu and his role at Yahoo only on condition of anonymity.

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Comments | Category: Coming and going , Google , Personalities , Recruiting , Search , Yahoo |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 6, 2008 12:58 PM

Hiring of new Microsoft exec Qi Lu strikes diversity chord

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


MICROSOFT

Qi Lu, highest ranking Chinese American in Microsoft history.

Here's a story from today's paper with more reaction to the news this week that Microsoft has filled a strategically critical leadership role:
Chinese Americans at Microsoft and in the community cheered the appointment of Qi Lu as president of the company's Online Services Group, noting the significance of his arrival at the highest ranks of the company.


"When people look at their own career potential in a company, they always look at if there is someone like them in the senior leadership team," said Weina Wang, chairwoman of Chinese Microsoft Employees (CHIME), the largest company-sponsored diversity group, with 2,500 members. "And I think Lu's joining Microsoft is definitely a huge encouragement, from a career-development perspective, for all the Chinese and Asian employees."

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Comments | Category: Coming and going , Corporate culture , Personalities , Public policy & issues , Recruiting , Search , Yahoo |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 26, 2008 12:15 PM

Bloomberg: Microsoft and LeBron James not renewing contract

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft and the NBA's "chosen one," LeBron James, are dropping a marketing relationship that had the Cleveland Cavaliers star forward hawking Windows Vista and promoting himself on an MSN site, Bloomberg reported.



AP Photo/Bill Kostroun


James throws chalk dust into the air before playing in an NBA basketball game against the New Jersey Nets Tuesday, Nov. 18.


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Comments | Category: Branding , MSN , Personalities |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 10, 2008 9:59 AM

Microsoft exec in charge of Windows Experience makes WSJ's 'Women to Watch' list

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Julie Larson-Green, the Microsoft exec who regularly takes a public role in high-profile demonstrations of Windows, is the first executive from the company to be named to The Wall Street Journal's global "Women to Watch" list, published today.

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Comments | Category: Personalities |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 6, 2008 8:51 AM

More John Hodgman on the radio

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The PC guy from Apple's biting commercials, John Hodgman, is scheduled to join Steve Scher on KUOW's "Weekday" this morning at 9 a.m. Hodgman, a comedian and author, is touring public radio and other venues to promote his book: "More Information Than You Require."

He was the special guest on another public radio show, "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me" last weekend.

Hodgman also is speaking in Seattle tonight at Elliott Bay Books at 7:30 p.m.

Comments | Category: Advertising , Apple , Miscellaneous , Personalities |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 1, 2008 11:50 AM

Apple's PC guy John Hodgman takes Microsoft quiz on NPR comedy show

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

"Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me" is a Saturday morning ritual in my house. John Hodgman, the comedian, author and perhaps most famously, "PC guy," in Apple's "Get a Mac" commercials, was the special guest on the show this morning, which I heard on local National Public Radio affiliate KUOW.

The "Get a Mac" campaign, including Hodgman's biting portrayal, has significant role in defining the image of the PC and the Windows Vista operating system in popular culture, while also boosting Mac sales in the last two years. So much so that Microsoft earlier this fall launched a $300 million campaign -- including a major series of television ads -- to take back control of the brand and restore dignity to Hodgman's line, 'I'm a PC.'

Hodgman was asked to answer three questions about the history of Microsoft. Here are some excerpts from his 11-minute appearance on "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me." You can also listen to the segment here.

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Comments | Category: Advertising , Apple , Branding , Miscellaneous , Personalities |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 7, 2008 5:53 AM

Q&A with Craig Mundie, Microsoft chief research and strategy officer

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, and Bill Gates take the stage at a conference in 2007.

I spoke Monday with Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer and one of the two executives filling Bill Gates' role in setting the company's course. He is in the midst of a U.S. university tour, talking to students and professors about Microsoft and the future of technology in many different disciplines. (Here's today's story from the paper.) It's something Gates used to do regularly, and another way Mundie has assumed Gates' functions at the company. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation, covering his tour, views on technology in education, Gates' transition, and the Windows ad campaign.

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Comments | Category: Bill Gates , Education , Natural user interface , Personalities , Research , Strategy |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 6, 2008 1:36 PM

Microsoft business exec Elop shares newcomer's observations

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times

Stephen Elop, photographed in May, shared his observations today after 10 months at the helm of the Microsoft Business Division.

Ten months into his job as president of Microsoft's $19 billion business division, Stephen Elop has come to some conclusions about his new employer. It is a tenacious company, relentlessly self-critical and full of people who believe their jobs can make a major impact on the world. He expanded on those ideas in front of a Seattle audience this morning.

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Comments | Category: Corporate culture , Office , Personalities |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

September 24, 2008 1:30 PM

Former Microsoft exec Raikes giving big to Nebraska comp science program that carries his name

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Jeff Raikes, the longtime Microsoft executive who resigned earlier this year to take the helm of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is boosting the computer science program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Raikes is a proud Nebraska native, whose family still runs a farm there. He'll talk about it on any occasion, such as over USDA Prime steaks at Daniel's Broiler.

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Comments | Category: Coming and going , Gates Foundation , Office , Personalities , Philanthropy |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

September 19, 2008 11:34 AM

More from Microsoft's company meeting: Paper airplane record; Ballmer talked stock, drank honey?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Following up on yesterday's report from Microsoft's company meeting, during which CEO Steve Ballmer shared his views on the company's mobile strategy, here are some other tidbits gleaned from folks in attendance:

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Comments | Category: Corporate culture , Games & entertainment , Personalities , Steve Ballmer , Strategy |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

September 19, 2008 7:34 AM

Microsofties star in Windows 'I'm a PC' commercial after winning 'Windows Idol'

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The next Windows ad doesn't feature Seinfeld, but it does have Sean Siler. He's a Microsoft senior program manager in networking and he's one of five employees taking star turns in the first 60-second "I'm a PC" spot, which is set to hit the airwaves -- and explode all over the web -- when prime time shows including "Grey's Anatomy" and "The Office" begin airing on the East Coast.

Watch it here.

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September 18, 2008 11:24 AM

Tech moguls claim upper tier of Forbes list of richest Americans

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Forbes published its annual list of the 400 richest Americans yesterday. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is on top with an estimated $57 billion fortune. Forbes notes that Gates has more than half his fortune outside of Microsoft stock and that his pile has declined 5 percent in the last 12 months. Another interesting note: "Inflation-adjusted net worth would top $90 billion if he hadn't given away any cash."

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Comments | Category: Bill Gates , Facebook , Financial , Google , Personalities , Steve Ballmer |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

September 17, 2008 10:47 AM

'Office' star Rainn Wilson, not Seinfeld, to emcee Microsoft employee meeting tomorrow

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


Justin Lubin / NBC

Rainn Wilson, star of "The Office," rumored to be hosting Microsoft company meeting.

A tipster tells me that Microsoft has enlisted local boy Rainn Wilson, star of the NBC sitcom "The Office," to host its annual company meeting Thursday. People initially thought the host would be Jerry Seinfeld, who has recently hitched his wagon to the high-profile Windows campaign. "We were told the host would be 'comedic,'" the tipster says, "so [Seinfeld] was the natural assumption, but Wilson, I think, will be a much more enjoyable emcee. ... [T]he Rainn carrot is enticing some of my co-workers to now go to the meeting."

I'm trying to get confirmation from Microsoft on the logistics of the company meeting, which is typically held at Safeco Field and can surprise some commuters with heavy traffic for a weekday morning in Sodo. Last year, the company also delivered some significant local news on the morning of the meeting, including a major investment in downtown Seattle real estate and a private shuttle network to save employees from driving alone to Redmond.

(Update, 11:40 a.m. and again at 12:13 p.m.: Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos confirmed that the meeting will be held at Safeco tomorrow morning from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., which is shorter than normal. Wilson is indeed the emcee. Other presenters include Microsoft execs Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie and Kevin Turner. No definitive word on whether Bill Gates will be on hand. Bill Gates will not be there.

So far, about 21,000 23,000 employees have registered, which is a few thousand more than in previous years. Gellos noted that the company deliberately scheduled the meeting in the middle of the day to avoid impacting the morning or evening commutes. It also has a fleet of 212 buses to bring employees to and from Redmond and minimize the traffic impact. Buses will leave the Eastside between 9:30 and 10 a.m. and return beginning at 3 p.m.

Microsoft is conducting a food drive at the event to support Northwest Harvest and the Food Lifeline, agencies that are straining under the pressure of higher fuel prices and the slowing economy, Gellos said.)

Meanwhile, we've done some interesting stories on Rainn Wilson over the years, so check out these tidbits about the guy who ran with a posse of "Dungeons and Dragons aficionados" in his days at Shorecrest High School.

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Comments | Category: Corporate culture , Miscellaneous , Personalities , Real estate and facilities |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

September 15, 2008 1:59 PM

How many would-be NFL defensive coordinators bought Madden NFL '09?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The best-selling video game in August, according to The NPD Group, was Madden NFL '09. Nearly 2.2 million units were sold in the U.S. After reading a great essay on the game's namesake, John Madden, I'm wondering how many were purchased by aspiring (or actual) NFL defensive coordinators.

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Comments | Category: Games & entertainment , Nintendo , Personalities , Sony , Wii , Xbox 360 |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

September 15, 2008 10:44 AM

Fascinating account of 'The Game,' an adventure race organized by Microsoft execs, sheds light on tech culture

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Jonathan Martin writes in The Seattle Times' Pacific Magazine about an adventure scavenger hunt called The Game. The story is a must read for anyone interested in learning more about the mindset of high-achieving smart guys at companies like Microsoft.

Martin's story focuses on one particular running of the annual event in 2002, organized by Joe Belfiore, an 18-year company veteran and currently corporate vice president in charge of the company's Media Center line. He had been putting on these events since high school.

The Game, Martin writes, is meant to be the "ultimate test for the Renaissance man or woman. Or just a really good excuse to turn off your Blackberry, forget work, ignore spouses and have a hell-raising good time."

But the 2002 running ended with a tragic accident that left a participant paralyzed.

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Comments | Category: Corporate culture , Games & entertainment , Legal issues , Personalities |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

September 4, 2008 10:42 AM

Accomplished Microsoft mathematician died in hiking accident

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Authorities identified the hiker who died in the Guye Peak area of the Cascades on Monday as Oded Schramm, a researcher in the theory group of Microsoft Research.

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August 18, 2008 9:01 PM

Four Microsofties make Technology Review's list of 35 under 35

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

MIT's Technology Review, the world's oldest tech magazine, has named four Microsoft employees to its "annual list of 35 outstanding men and women under the age of 35 who exemplify the spirit of innovation in business and technology." Only Harvard and its affiliates had more people on the TR35.

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Comments | Category: Microsoft , Natural user interface , Personalities , Recruiting , Research |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

July 11, 2008 9:28 AM

Reports: Bad blood could stymie Yahoo-Microsoft deal

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The chatter around Yahoo-Microsoft coming out of the Allen & Co. bigwig shindig in Sun Valley, Idaho, this week is increasingly acrimonious and negative toward any deal.

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Comments | Category: Personalities , Yahoo acquisition |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 27, 2008 3:23 PM

Gates to tease with Windows 7 features tonight

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

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Comments | Category: Bill Gates , Google , Personalities , Steve Ballmer , Tech Economy , Windows 7 , Yahoo acquisition |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 20, 2008 2:59 PM

Arianna Huffington credits Ballmer's egg-dodging skills

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Speaking to an influential audience of Microsoft advertisers on the company's campus today, Arianna Huffington started out by asking the crowd whether there were any Hungarians in the audience. Then she asked if there were any eggs.

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Comments | Category: Miscellaneous , Personalities , Steve Ballmer |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 13, 2008 5:22 PM

A conversation with Stephen Elop, new president of Microsoft Business Division

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Elop, the new president of the Microsoft Business Division, said one of his biggest surprises since joining the company is "the extent of innovation."

Now that Jeff Raikes' move to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been made public, the man replacing him as president of the $16.4 billion-a-year Microsoft Business Division is making the rounds.

Stephen Elop, 44, took the job in January. Here's a brief profile of Elop we ran at the time. On Tuesday, Elop sat down to talk about how he's settling in, impressions of Microsoft and the challenges facing his part of the company.

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May 12, 2008 10:03 AM

Microsoft vet Raikes to Gates Foundation as CEO

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


DEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Raikes at his Microsoft office in 2006.

Bill Gates is bringing one of his most trusted Microsoft generals with him to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Jeff Raikes will become CEO of the world's largest philanthropy beginning Sept. 2, the foundation announced this morning.

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May 7, 2008 11:44 AM

Video: Gates and Buffett on Fox

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Following this post, which highlighted excerpts from the interview Fox Business News scored with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett earlier this week, here's a video segment.

Comments | Category: Bill Gates , Personalities |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 5, 2008 2:18 PM

Buffett and Gates talk business

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

A day after Berkshire Hathaway's shareholder meeting, billionaire buddies Warren Buffett, Berkshire's chairman, and Bill Gates, a Berkshire director, were interviewed today on Fox Business Channel. Here's a short story summarizing the conversation, and here are some interesting excerpts from a transcript provided by the Fox Business Network.

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Comments | Category: Bill Gates , Entrepreneurs & VCs , Personalities , Yahoo acquisition |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 30, 2008 6:36 PM

Music from Baudboys, Microsoft's a capella group

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


GREG GILBERT/THE SEATTLE TIMES

The Baudboys in concert in Building 16 on Microsoft campus.

While it may not score them points at their next performance review, the men of Microsoft's a cappella group, the Baudboys, have met their goal.

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April 15, 2008 4:45 PM

PopCap's 'Bejeweled' used in N.J. marriage proposal; Nintendo prices Wii Balance Board; Peter Gabriel launches Web content 'Filter'

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

A few fun items for your afternoon perusal.

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April 15, 2008 10:14 AM

Microsoft completes Danger acquisition, now the work begins

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft's acquisition of Danger is complete, the company announced today.

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April 14, 2008 4:23 PM

Microsoft Unlimited Potential Group gets new leader; veteran Poole to retire

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


Will Poole, Windows veteran, to retire from Microsoft.

Microsoft confirmed rumors reported today that the Unlimited Potential Group -- assigned to develop and market Microsoft products for people in emerging economies -- is being reorganized. Will Poole, a veteran leader who previously ran the Windows Client business, is leaving his post as co-leader of Unlimited Potential and retiring from the company this fall "to pursue philanthropic and entrepreneurial interests," Microsoft said in a statement.

Updated after the jump.

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April 3, 2008 2:08 PM

Microsoft ethnomusicologist to be dean of conservatory

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Brian Pertl has been at Microsoft since 1992. He heads up a small group in charge of media acquisitions. Now he's going to be dean of a music school. Update, Friday morning: Listen to a clip of Pertl's music after the jump.

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March 27, 2008 6:23 PM

One-time pundit on Microsoft antitrust case to head FTC

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

A prominent pundit and legal expert during the historic Microsoft antitrust trial, William Kovacic, was named chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.

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March 17, 2008 12:10 PM

Does Bear meltdown impact CEO Schwartz' reported role as Microsoft adviser?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


Bear Stearns CEO Schwartz.

Remember about two weeks ago when The Wall Street Journal reported that Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz was brought on to advise Microsoft in its bid for Yahoo?

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March 10, 2008 5:15 PM

Plenty of former Microsoft employees work at Adobe, too

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Mark Anders, a senior principal scientist at Adobe, read my story today about the former Adobe and Macromedia people who now work on competing products at Microsoft and wanted to point out that "the brainpower flows in both directions." I mentioned at the end of the story that Anders -- who is leading work on Thermo, a new tool for designers building rich Internet applications -- came from Microsoft, but there are many more who have followed a similar path. He gave me just a few examples in an email this afternoon.

"I would like to point out that there are a LOT of former Microsoft people here," Anders wrote.

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March 6, 2008 10:52 PM

Ballmer Q&A: Extended coverage

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki made a great combination on stage. Their hourlong Q&A at Mix, Microsoft's conference for Web developers Thursday, was filled with zingers, tough questions and some pleasantly frank answers -- especially once Kawasaki established early on that he was going to call Ballmer out on any "bull***t PR" answers. They also left enough time to take several questions from the audience.

I included some highlights in this story -- Ballmer's latest comments on the Yahoo bid, Google, online services, antitrust and the pending exit of Bill Gates -- but there was much more than I could fit in the print edition. Below you'll find expanded coverage of various topics from the talk.

For those with the time and the inclination, I suggest you watch the Q&A yourself. There are plenty of technical sections -- still interesting, but not for everyone. There are also several laugh-out-loud hilarious exchanges between the two tech veterans.

Is Apple 'this little Chihuahua you just kick away?'

What's up with Vista?

Three days in the life of the Microsoft CEO

Buying in to Facebook

No comment on the Sonics

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March 6, 2008 11:06 AM

Microsoft-Yahoo bid rumors; Ballmer joins Sonics full-court press; iPhone works with Exchange

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The New York Post chimed in this morning on Yahoo's move to postpone the deadline for nominating candidates for its board of directors -- seen as an effort to stave off Microsoft's acquisition. The Post's unnamed sources expect this to push Microsoft to take a more aggressive strategy.


"'[Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer is just one of many highly emotional people involved in this,'' said a source who has spoken with executives at both companies. ''Microsoft has been trying to avoid going completely hostile, but now it is going to get completely hostile.'"

More substantive details in the story, again from unnamed sources: Microsoft has readied a slate of Yahoo director candidates and could submit it as soon as next week. It is considering changing its bid to all cash. The value of the current bid, which is half stock and half cash, changes with Microsoft's stock price, and is down from $44.6 billion when it was announced to $41.5 billion, as of Wednesday's closing price.

Continue reading this post ...


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February 26, 2008 12:46 PM

Crab lovers, start your Xboxes: 'Deadliest Catch' game due in April

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

How to explain the phenomenon that is Discovery Channel's hit reality series "Deadliest Catch"?

The high seas, the extreme conditions, the danger, the payoff of a big catch of Alaskan king and opilio crab. It has all the elements of a great adventure game. So, no surprise, newly formed game publisher Greenwave announced today that "Deadliest Catch Alaskan Storm," is due out for the Xbox 360 and PC in April, just in time for the show's fourth season.


ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Brothers Norman, left, Edgar and Sig Hansen have been crab-fishing aboard the Northwestern for decades. Now they're starring in a video game about it.

According to a press release, "The game was inspired by Sig, Edgar and Norman Hansen -- three brothers who have made their living crab fishing on the Bering Sea aboard their family's fishing vessel, the Northwestern." Again, no surprise to fans of the show that it's the Hansen brothers -- who seem to have taken best advantage of the new attention paid to their vocation -- that would work with game developers Liquid Dragon Studios on this project. Check out this 2006 Seattle Times story on their line of lingerie, among other things.

The local tie-ins don't stop with the Hansens, who are Shorewood High School grads.

Liquid Dragon Studios is in Bellevue. Greenwave is a "recently established" Seattle company whose offices are in Ballard not far from Fisherman's Terminal.

The game looks like it's packed with features to keep the amateur seafarer interested. Here's some more detail:

"Weather and fishing conditions are based on authentic weather and storm data and get progressively worse each season, increasing the challenge. The ultimate goal is to return safely each season, upgrade your boat and crew, and attempt to break Captain Sig Hansen and the Northwestern crew's actual lifetime catch of twenty million pounds."

To underscore the danger, the game will be the first to feature U.S. Coast Guard helicopters and boats.

The developers are also boasting "the best wave effects in a video game to date." We'll see, but if so, I hope they'll come out with a good surfing game next.

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January 24, 2008 9:51 AM

Capitalist Gates calls for 'creative capitalism' to aid poor at Davos

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Addressing the World Economic Forum today, Microsoft chairman and world's richest man Bill Gates said free-market forces have failed the world's poor.

"We have to find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthier people serve poorer people as well," he told the annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, according to coverage from Reuters. "I like to call this idea creative capitalism."

The Wall Street Journal today ran a front-page story on Gates' speech, having been given an advance copy and an interview last week. More after the jump.

Update, 1:20 p.m.: Microsoft has posted a transcript of Gates' speech. Tell us what you think of his vision for "creative capitalism" in the comments section.

Continue reading this post ...


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January 23, 2008 3:34 PM

Elop's stock grant ties him to MSFT through Jan. 21, 2012

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Stephen Elop, the man Microsoft hired to replace Jeff Raikes as president of its business division, was awarded 62,250 shares that vest on the following schedule, according to an SEC filing this afternoon: 50 percent, Jan. 21, 2010; 30 percent, Jan. 21, 2011; and 20 percent, Jan. 21, 2012.

This is interesting in light of a San Jose Mercury News blog post 10 days ago, referenced here, about Elop's short stays at his past two employers and the fact that his departure announcements coincided with the date that large chunks of his options vested.

I had asked Microsoft for more information on whether Elop's compensation package would be structured to give him an incentive to stay with Redmond for more than a year. Microsoft didn't comment at the time.

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January 8, 2008 2:22 PM

Pure speculation: Could Storm co-buyer bend Ballmer's ear on Sonics?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


MARK HARRISON / THE SEATTLE TIMES

A group of Seattle women, led by former Seattle Deputy Mayor Anne Levinson, and including Microsoft executive Lisa Brummel, second from right, and former executive Dawn Trudeau, third from right, is buying the team from the Sonics ownership group for $10 million.

One of the Seattle women buying the Storm WNBA franchise from Clay Bennett is a senior Microsoft executive. Lisa Brummel, senior vice president of human resources, has a close relationship with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, whose name has been floated as a could-be white knight to keep the Sonics in Seattle.

Another buyer is Dawn Trudeau, who was general manager of the Consumer Product Group at Microsoft, leaving the company in 1998, after 14 years, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman.

The story of how Brummel came to be the boss of human resources is well known. It involved some heavy recruiting by Ballmer.


Continue reading this post ...


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December 26, 2007 11:21 AM

AAPL touches $200; FSJ shutdown drama

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

I know a guy who bought Apple stock about 18 months ago, back when it was still trading in the double-digits. Happy Boxing Day to him. Meanwhile, Daniel Lyons is one guy in need of some eggnog therapy this holiday.

Continue reading this post ...


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December 6, 2007 1:53 PM

Strong links between entrepreneurs and dyslexia

Posted by Tricia Duryee

A new study suggests that a "staggering" number of entrepreneurs in the U.S. identify themselves as dyslexic, according to a story in the International Herald Tribune.

The report said that of the entrepreneurs interviewed, 35 percent said they were dyslexic. The study also concluded that dyslexics were more likely to delegate authority and to excel in oral communication and problem solving. They were also twice as likely to own two or more businesses.

One good example in our own back yard is Craig McCaw, who has a long list of companies he started: Clearwire, Nextel Communications, XO Communications, Teledesic and McCaw Cellular Communications,

Members of his executive teams frequently describe him as being creative, not too wrapped up in the details, and capable of delegating authority.

The article pointed out that the connection between entrepreneurs and dyslexia has been made before. Fortune had a cover story five years ago mentioning McCaw, but also Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways; Charles Schwab, founder of the discount brokerage that bears his name; John Chambers, chief executive of Cisco; and Paul Orfalea, founder of the Kinko's copy chain.

Why is this?

Julie Logan, a professor of entrepreneurship at the Cass Business School in London, who conducted the study, said:

"We found that dyslexics who succeed had overcome an awful lot in their lives by developing compensatory skills. If you tell your friends and acquaintances that you plan to start a business, you'll hear over and over, 'It won't work. It can't be done.' But dyslexics are extraordinarily creative about maneuvering their way around problems."

The study was based on a survey of 139 business owners in a wide range of fields across the U.S.

Logan called the results staggering, especially when juxtaposed with the information that about 10 percent of Americans are believed to have dyslexia.

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November 2, 2007 2:37 PM

Clinton at Microsoft

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Bill Clinton went before a crowd of "several thousand" Microsoft employees in person, and tens of thousands who watched via the company's intranet, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said today in introducing the president to a gaggle of reporters earlier today.

After his remarks to the assembled employees, he took questions and waded into the crowd.

Clinton provided a somewhat unsatisfying response to the biggest question involving his presidency and Microsoft: How does he feel about the outcome of the U.S. antitrust case against Microsoft, initiated during his administration?

"I don't know enough about the outcome to know," Clinton told reporters. "You know, in our administration, we had no contact between the White House and the Justice Department over the enforcement of the law, so, I knew, the first time I heard about the Microsoft case is when I read about it in the paper, literally. I had no knowledge of it.

"And I guess, I'm not dodging, this question. If I knew enough to give you an answer, I would, but, then, since I'm so ignorant about this, there's no point in demonstrating it by giving you an answer that would only show that I don't know what I'm talking about."

Clinton also praised Microsoft for matching employee charitable contributions, which, according to Ballmer reached $72 million this year, up from $63 million last year.

"Companies that can afford to do so should follow this company's lead and match their employees' gifts," Clinton said.

He also thanked Ballmer and Microsoft for the company's support of causes he has championed, including www.ninemillion.org, a United Nations effort to provide an education for 9 million refugee children by 2010.

Echoing themes from his presentation to the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Seattle Thursday night, Clinton also highlighted an effort to better measure improvements made to buildings to reduce their carbon footprint.

"The problem is that, believe it or not, even after all these years of dealing with climate change, there is no commonly accepted clear measurement of the impact of specific actions on the problem," he said. "So what Microsoft is doing for us, with Infosys and [the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives], they're developing the baseline so that we can go into every major building and say, 'OK, here's what your carbon footprint is now and then we'll be able to measure every specific thing we do to say how much it's reducing.'"

Clinton devoted most of his comments to answering attacks on Sen. Hillary Clinton during Wednesday night's Democratic Presidential Debate, particularly an implication that President Clinton had attempted to delay releasing archived records from his administration pertaining to his wife.

"It was breathtakingly misleading," Clinton said of questions put to Sen. Clinton by Tim Russert of NBC's "Meet the Press" during this week's debate.

Bill Clinton's statements at Microsoft today provoked a response from the Republican National Committee, which alleged, in part, that the Clintons continue to distort the facts and hold back documents.

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October 10, 2007 1:09 PM

Is Google un-American?

Posted by Kristi Heim

So most of the searching done on the Internet is not in North America, as pointed out in the previous post. More people in Asia and Europe are searching the Web than people here, and guess what their favorite tool is? Google.

But hey, don't get any wild ideas, you UN-supporting, Rick Steves guidebook-toting left-coasters. Google's main office is on American soil. And now they've taken to dressing up their logo with pictures of a Soviet satellite. Ungrateful commies!

Watch out, Sergey. Once they find out you were born in Moscow, they might just try to send you back.

UPDATE: Well, today the folks at Google have for replaced the "l" with a sketch of the late Luciano Pavarotti, who was born on this day in 1935. Wait, wasn't he Italian?

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September 19, 2007 12:26 PM

Tim Chen latest Microsoft China executive to leave

Posted by Kristi Heim

Tim Chen, Microsoft's top executive in China, jumped ship to head to the National Basketball League's operations in China, the NBA said today.


DEAN RUTZ/SEATTLE TIMES

Tim Chen will be seeing a lot more of Yao Ming.

Before he joined Microsoft, Chen led Motorola's China operations. He's a well known executive in the country and was undoubtedly sought after by many companies.

At Microsoft, Chen helped the company make progress on intellectual property issues in China, including inking partnerships with PC makers and successfully pushing for a law that requires new computers to be sold with authentic preinstalled operating system software.

He also helped host Chinese President Hu Jintao in carefully scripted visits to Microsoft and dinner at Bill Gates' home.

Chen starts with the NBA on Oct. 15, so Microsoft is searching for his replacement and has named Ya-Qin Zhang as acting CEO in the meantime.
Zhang heads the company's R&D group in China.

Chen's departure follows those of Kai-Fu Lee, whose move to Google sparked a lawsuit between Microsoft and the search giant, and Jun Tang, a basketball player himself, who left his job as president of Microsoft China to join online game company Shanda Interactive Entertainment.

This story says Chen's move illustrates Microsoft's difficulty hanging on to executives in the world's fastest growing economy. I'd say it illustrates any multinational company's dilemma with job-hopping executives there, since the number of opportunities far outweighs the number of capable high-level managers in China.

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September 18, 2007 12:59 PM

Gates Foundation executive is knighted

Posted by Kristi Heim

Dr. Tadataka "Tachi" Yamada, president of the global health program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today can add knighthood to his list of achievements.


RICHARD BROWN/GATES FOUNDATION

Tachi Yamada joined the Gates Foundation in 2006.

Yamada received the honor for his work at pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, where he was head of research and development from 2000 to 2006. During that time he helped make GSK into an R&D powerhouse, the U.K.'s most innovative company and the commercial leader in researching diseases of the developing world, the U.K. government said in a press release. Yamada earned a B.A. in history from Stanford University, his M.D. from New York University School of Medicine.

The official title "honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE)" is given by the Queen. Foreign citizens are recognized for important contributions to relations between their country and Britain, but only U.K. citizens with knighthood get the title of Sir or Dame. Yamada is an American citizen.

"I am delighted and humbled to receive this great honor," he said in a statement. "The U.K. is at the forefront of scientific innovation, particularly in discovering new medicines and improving global health. It has been my privilege to work with extraordinary British colleagues throughout my career in academia, in industry, and now in the fight against health disparities throughout the world."

Yamada joins a list of American recipients that includes former Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan; Secretary of State Colin Powell, General Norman Schwartzkopf; actor Bob Hope; composer/conductor Andre Previn; director Steven Spielberg and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, who was given the honor in 2005.

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September 14, 2007 11:35 AM

Chinese business women look for local partners

Posted by Kristi Heim

When a business group from China visits a business group in Seattle, the odds are you'll see a lot men in dark suits. But earlier this week, an unusual group from China came through town: women entrepreneurs blazing a trail in a country where the odds are not often in their favor.

The visitors included Li Xiao Yan, the young general manager of Beijing Jingcheng Yanda Technology and Trade, a company specializing in energy conservation and management that she founded in Beijing. Li was looking for U.S. partners to provide energy technology products to China. Li's company is already importing energy management products from California. She said that with recent government incentives for technology that helps reduce electricity consumption, the opportunity is huge.

Led by Madam Feng Cui, president of the Chinese Association of Women Entrepreneurs, the eight women attended a reception in the waterfront Medina home of local businesswoman Laurie McDonald Jonsson. It was a reunion for some of the women, who met in China last year during a trip Jonsson organized for Stellar International Networks.


Wistar Kay/Stellar Networks

Li Xiao Yan (middle, in orange scarf) talks with Laurie McDonald Jonsson (in tan suit).

Their American counterparts were local lawyers, doctors, company executives, academics and others interested in making professional connections and friendships in China.

Another visitor, Li Daxiang, chair of Beijing Leitianxiang International Education and Culture Exchange, said she was anxious to meet Americans interested in exchange programs with China. Li said she hoped the problems with Chinese product quality would not put a damper on trade.


Wistar Kay/Stellar Networks

Zhang Zumei, general manager of a Macau investment company Kong Tai Luen Fat, tours the Jonsson house.

All of the entrepreneurs said they hoped that establishing friendships between American and Chinese women would build good will at a time when relations between their two countries are strained.

A few of the Chinese women were visiting the U.S. for the first time. As successful as they have become in the new capitalist China, they were clearly in awe of their surroundings, even without knowing they were just down the street from the richest man in the world. One local guest quipped: "I hope they don't think all Americans have homes like this."

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August 29, 2007 4:12 PM

Paul Allen's new brain trust

Posted by Kristi Heim

Now that the Allen Institute for Brain Science has created a detailed map of the brain, it has been busy mapping its own future.

The institute this week named a new scientific advisory board to help define and advance its scientific agenda. The board members are David Anderson and Christof Koch from CalTech, Thomas Daniel and Phyllis Wise from UW, Catherine Dulac from Harvard, Steven Paul of Lilly Research Labs, Michael Stryker of UC San Francisco, Joseph S. Takahashi from Northwestern University and Marc Tessier-Lavigne from Genentech.


GREG GILBERT / SEATTLE TIMES

Lab assistants help unlock the mysteries of the mouse brain, genetically similar to the human brain.

Allen provided a $100 million donation of seed money to fund the institute, and it has used $40 million to build the Allen Brain Atlas. Now the institute needs more funding to take on the next challenge. That money could come from federal grants, foundations and other sources, as well as from Allen himself. But the institute is intended to run as a business, says Chief Operating Officer Elaine Jones, so it's looking at new models for future investments in projects that could later be commercialized.

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August 17, 2007 2:06 PM

Hard to run a company when you're such a celebrity?

Posted by Kristi Heim

Not so hard, says James Sun, CEO of Zoodango and emerging television personality. Sun may have finished his stint on "The Apprentice" as runner-up, but he's launching several ventures that promise to keep him on air.


Brian Casey

James Sun

He has a Hollywood agent out to make the most of his personality, tech skills and business acumen. Decked out in black Prada shades, intern by his side, Sun turned out for a lunch today with Chinese stars visiting Seattle to promote the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Not everybody can make the transition from reality TV to stardom, he says, "but my agent thinks I can."

The first show he's working on is a techno house program, introducing new kinds of technology and explaining how to set them up at home. Think fun with wireless gadgets and tabletop computers.

The second show is a look at celebrities launching their own businesses. Think Paris Hilton opening a pampered pet store.

Sun says he is also planning to go on a national speaking tour with "Apprentice" winner Stefani Schaeffer. The theme is very anti-Trump: teamwork.

"Stefani and I never backstabbed each other even once," he said.

Even though backstabbing sells on the show, Sun says real business is collaborative.

But with so much going on, how does he even find time to run a company?

"My job is chief evangelist officer," Sun said. Zoodango is getting more users in Los Angeles because he's there so often talking about it.

Besides, his investors have asked him to do a daily video blog about working as a tech CEO. His last blog, a rant about hospital security officers tasering a man holding a baby, was broadcast on television 48 hours after he posted it on YouTube.

"That's the power of the Internet," he said.

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August 2, 2007 1:51 PM

WSA names new board members

Posted by Tricia Duryee

The WSA, the state's technology trade organization, said today that it has named five new members to its board.

They are:

Ron Craswell, engineering director, Google : Craswell, one of the leaders at Google's Kirkland office, oversees a number of Google projects, including parts of Google Maps, Webmaster Tools and Google Pack. He previously was vice president of engineering for Seattle-based M:Metrics.

Carla Stratfold, senior vice president of RealNetwork's program integration office: Stratfold joined RealNetworks in 2001 to work in sales. Before that, she was at Oracle.

Keith Smith, CEO, Zango : Smith, who co-founded Zango in 1999, has worked in technology development, financial services and entrepreneurial concerns.

James Sun, CEO, president and founder, Zoodango : Sun was runner-up on the NBC show "The Apprentice" this year. He started out by running an investment trading company during his college years. Before creating Zoodango, he worked as a management consultant at Deloitte Consulting.

Jennifer Shettleroe, vice president of engineering, Attachmate:
Shettleroe joined Attachmate in 1995, holding key leadership positions in product development, information technology, technical support and corporate training. She has a 20-year career in software development and delivery.

WSA board has 35 members. Along with President and CEO Ken Myer, the board drives the direction of the organization.

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June 29, 2007 10:22 AM

Front row seat: Scoble blogs from iPhone line

Posted by Kristi Heim

Short of having a Webcam posted at the door to check out the minute-by-minute action, it might be more fun to visit Robert Scoble blogging from his place in line at Apple's Palo Alto, Calif., store. He was first to queue up there on Thursday morning, and he's been running into interesting people, like Apple's first software developer, Bill Atkinson. And they are apparently enjoying a nice sunny day, too. Scoble says the secret of Jobs' great PR is to keep everything secret, and Microsoft should take a lesson from that.

Hmm... guess there wouldn't be so much to blog about then, would there?

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June 11, 2007 3:36 PM

No-neck-tie a look for Obama, Ballmer, McNerny

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The Wall Street Journal over the weekend took a look at a look in men's fashion being popularized by presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama: Suit and no tie.

It's a fashion trend that can be seen in the c-suite of several large companies, including Microsoft and Boeing. The Journal story, which deems the suit-no-tie look difficult to pull off, calls Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's look (no tie with a button-down collar as pictured in one example) "slouchy."

"Choose the wrong collar -- button-down instead of spread -- and the resulting casual effect might say middle management, not corner office," the story posits.

Boeing boss Jim McNerny is pictured tie-less, but with a pocket square, which, according to the story, takes the look "a step up."

For the record, a spokeswoman told the Journal that Ballmer usually wears a tie. I took a quick look at photos in our archives. During his recent visit to Asia, Ballmer was in a tie. At Microsoft's CEO Summit in mid-May, he was tie-less (pictured with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, also tie-less, and Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro, who sported an orange tie).



Joe Nicholson/AP Photo


Bezos, Ballmer and Premji.

Ballmer went tie-less again in November when he announced a major open-source deal with Novell.

Ballmer tends to go with a V-neck sweater over a button-down collar, which is a look Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates also favors, and which both men wore at an event celebrating the launch of their biggest product, Windows Vista, in January.


TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP/Getty Images

V-necks for Vista launch.

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June 5, 2007 4:16 PM

Craig McCaw honored by SDForum

Posted by Tricia Duryee

SDForum, an emerging technology association in the Silicon Valley, has named Clearwire founder and wireless entrepreneur Craig McCaw as one of the recipients of its 10th annual Visionary Awards.

This year's theme was: "Mobile, Media and Entertainment."

Each year SDForum honors industry leaders who have pioneered innovation and fostered a spirit of entrepreneurship. Former visionaries include Lou Gerstner, Bill Gates, Doug Engelbart, John Chambers, Gordon Moore, Ray Ozzie and Vint Cerf.

In addition to Craig McCaw, three others were named and will be honored during a private ceremony June 20.

The others were:

-- Trip Hawkins, chairman and CEO of Digital Chocolate, which creates mobile phone games and social applications.

-- Michael Moritz, who focuses on software and services investments at Sequoia Capital. Before joining Sequoia in 1986, he worked in a variety of positions at
Time Warner and was a Founder of Technologic Partners.

-- Walt Mossberg, who writes a weekly personal technology column in the Wall Street Journal. He also co-produces and co-hosts D: All Things Digital, a major
high-tech conference that this year brought Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on stage for a joint interview.

The awards ceremony is held at a private home and is sponsored by Deloitte, Microsoft, Nokia, DLA Piper and Nasdaq.

Here's a list of all the former winners.

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May 1, 2007 10:58 AM

Valleywag is done with Scoble

Posted by Kim Peterson

Valleywag declares the era of Robert Scoble to be over.

He used to be an evangelist for Microsoft. He used to be a top blogger. And he used to be relevant. Now he's just a dude who interviews Silicon Valley businesspeople for the PodTech video network. Sadly, he still feels entitled to attention, so he throws a fit when he feels ignored. The result: Robert Scoble is a pretty awful brand.

Valleywag's premise is that former Microsoft employee Scoble tried, and failed, to build a cult of self. I'm not sure that's the case. Scoble's posts appeared to give an uncensored, behind-the-scenes look at Microsoft. He did wonders for the company's image. He still is an interesting and prolific blogger, but when he left Microsoft his blog lost that lift-the-curtain tone.

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April 30, 2007 11:19 AM

HouseValues founder stepping down

Posted by Kim Peterson


Seattle Times file

Mark Powell

Mark Powell, the founder of Kirkland-based online real estate company HouseValues, is stepping down as chairman of the board. Powell founded the company in 1999 and was chief executive through mid-2003 and president through January 2004.

He's been chairman since June of 2003.

In a regulatory filing today, the company said Powell told the board last week that he was stepping down as director and chairman on May 31.

"Mr. Powell's decision not to stand for re-election did not result from a disagreement with the company on any matter relating to the company's operations, policies or practices. After more than seven years with HouseValues Mr. Powell has decided to dedicate his full energies to other interests."

The board picked Pete Higgins as its new chairman. Higgins worked at Microsoft from 1983 to 1999 and went on to found Seattle venture capital firm Second Avenue Partners.

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April 27, 2007 4:59 PM

Renay San Miguel moves to Seattle

Posted by Kim Peterson

Renay San Miguel has left his spot on the CNN anchor desk and moved to Seattle to work for public relations firm Weber Shandwick.

San Miguel will provide strategic media advice for clients, including Microsoft and InfoSpace, and will help them figure out how to use blogs, streaming video and podcasts. He starts Tuesday.

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April 3, 2007 3:24 PM

A cup of Martin Tobias

Posted by Kim Peterson

Local tech veteran Martin Tobias, now the chief executive of Seattle biodiesel company Imperium Renewables, gets his Starbucks moment:


Martin Tobias


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March 20, 2007 10:05 AM

Space food gets Martha Stewart makeover

Posted by Kristi Heim

Charles Simonyi hasn't even lifted off for his adventure in space yet, but he's already reinventing the crew's menu. Thanks to Martha Stewart, the food is anything but down to earth. How about a little wine-roasted quail and duck breast confit with capers?

Those are just two of the gourmet items that the software engineer is taking to the International Space Station for a special meal hand-picked by his friend, Martha Stewart. He's set to launch April 7 onboard a Russian spacecraft from Kazakhstan.

I guess that means he'll have to give up the local cuisine of smoked horsemeat sausage and fermented mare's milk.

Simonyi wants to share the gourmet meal, prepared by French chef Alain Ducasse's kitchen, with his crew, astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the space station.

Apparently, the freeze dried "meat in white sauce" was no match for Martha's cooking.

Simonyi says: "Although the food is very good there, it is somewhat basic, and after a couple of weeks, everything starts tasting the same. I am certain a little variation will be surely welcome."

The six-course meal features quail, duck, shredded chicken parmentier, apple fondant pieces, rice pudding with candied fruit, and semolina cake with dried apricots.

As the fifth tourist in space, Simonyi just might be the most welcome visitor yet. No doubt the one with the best blog.

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March 19, 2007 4:42 PM

Kathy Wilcox joins law firm

Posted by Tricia Duryee

After more than a decade at the WSA, Kathy Wilcox has joined Davis Wright Tremaine, working with the law firm's business transactions and corporate finance practice group.

"We are delighted to have Kathy join us. An industry and civic leader, Kathy brings to us a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the technology sector ... nationally as well as locally," said new practice group Chair Joseph Weinstein.

Wilcox stepped down from the technology trade association in July at age 61 after serving as president and chief executive for 12 years.

At the time, she said: "This is the best job I've ever had; it has been the most challenging job I've ever had. Now I want to leverage my skills in the broader community."

Today, she said in a press release that Davis Wright Tremaine "is perfectly poised in the Northwest, East Coast and China to serve emerging market and traditional business sector clients particularly well." She added that she is "excited to be a part of their growth."

Wilcox received her law degree cum laude from the University of Puget Sound, and her bachelor of arts in political science from the University of California at Los Angeles. She also received a management certificate from the University of Washington's Executive Business Program.

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February 23, 2007 4:52 PM

John McCain lands in Boeing territory

Posted by Kristi Heim

"We cannot fear this new world ... we should embrace it."

Sen. John McCain made those comments today in reference to the global economy characterized by growing trade with Asia. But he might have been talking about the new world of the Pacific Northwest, in which Boeing is suddenly his ally.

At today's lunch, the man who has long been the leading congressional critic of Boeing mentioned it as a shining example of companies that have achieved success through exports to Asia.

Boeing was one of the event's three major sponsors (with Microsoft and Premera Blue Cross), so you couldn't help but notice the Boeing lunch table front and center and the huge Boeing poster on the wall.

Here are some more excerpts from McCain's speech:

"Wheat farmers in the eastern part of the state, fruit and vegetable growers throughout Washington, manufacturing giants like Boeing, software titans like Microsoft -- all of them benefit from and depend on foreign markets."
"Look at Boeing and their exports for what they've achieved. Free trade and Asia has had such an incredible impact here. Driving this economy here is relations with Asia."

Quite a different tack than when talking about the company in 2004, when McCain recalled spotting a footnote in the federal budget about a deal that smelled rotten.

As The Seattle Times' Alicia Mundy later wrote:

McCain and his two aides have outmaneuvered Air Force brass and Boeing's 35-person Washington lobbying operation in a classic Washington power play and a media blitz worthy of Madison Avenue.
McCain's efforts killed the deal and sparked criminal convictions; spurred the resignations of top Air Force and Boeing officials, including Boeing CEO Phil Condit; and brought to light the biggest Pentagon weapons scandal in 20 years.
"The deal did not pass the sniff test," McCain said. He exploded about it on the floor of the Senate in late 2001. Reluctantly, he agreed to a compromise at the end of 2002."

And more recently McCain has been questioning Boeing's $615 million federal settlement of its procurement scandals, demanding answers from Chief Executive James McNerney.

Funny, that topic didn't come up today.

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February 23, 2007 12:41 PM

Hit the slopes and show it off

Posted by Tricia Duryee

When the forecast calls for a lot of white powdery stuff to fall from the skies, it's hard not to get a little bit antsy.

For some time, the Washington ski slopes have provided Web cams to visitors of their Web sites so they can check out the snow conditions. But now the Summit at Snoqualmie has an even more high-tech option.

The Summit is providing a site where riders and skiers can post home videos from the slopes. Some of the videos were obviously posted by the Summit and feature music tracks in the background, but others show look like 30 seconds from a cell phone.

I can see how this could really catch on with people vying to show off the best jumps and tricks. After all, typically the only people to catch it are the few taking the lift overhead.

Check out "Four year old Jarod's first time skiing," and "WHOOHOO," in which a snowboarder lands a sweet jump.

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February 9, 2007 2:17 PM

Bill Gates and Paul Allen converge downtown

Posted by Kristi Heim

These days Bill Gates and Paul Allen are shaping the landscape of Seattle as much as they've shaped its economy.

With construction noise almost drowning out his words, Bill Gates Sr. spoke at a groundbreaking Thursday for part of the new Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters, a 12-acre site being built directly across the street from Paul Allen's Experience Music Project.

Gates remembered taking his children to the Space Needle for the World's Fair in 1962, calling the area "the heart of the city."

Now three eras converge: the Space Needle of the Boeing-led jet city forming a backdrop behind the glass and steel music museum built with software millions, to the global health and philanthropy powerhouse emerging from the parking lot.

"This spot has been a parking lot as long as I can remember," Mayor Greg Nickels remarked. Now it's being put to "a much higher and better use."

Gates Foundation employees, architects, city officials and others looked down at the site from the Space Needle and celebrated the groundbreaking with glasses of champagne.

Yet all the new development could exacerbate city traffic congestion. So far the Gates Foundation is kicking in onlyabout $1.68 million for traffic improvements.

Nickels said he wants to open up more two-way traffic and streets now cut off by Aurora Avenue. He also envisioned the streetcar set to run from Allen's South Lake Union biotech corridor past the Gates Foundation headquarters and EMP to eventually stretch down to the waterfront.

Spurred on by the big ambitions of Gates and Allen, Nickels can only hope plans to transform the Seattle Center area ultimately fare better than the tunnel option.

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January 19, 2007 4:33 PM

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett pose with "beautiful Hooters girls"

Posted by Kristi Heim

Is this for real? Bill Gates and Warren Buffett posing with a bunch of busty women in tight white tank tops at Hooters? Hooters Restaurant posted this photo on its Web site with a news release proclaiming the world's two richest men can now eat for free at any of the chain's 435 restaurants. Like they really need free food.

Apparently the pair dined at a Kansas City, Kan., Hooters Oct. 20 along with members of Berkshire Hathaway's board of directors. Sorry, I'm just learning about it now thanks to Melissa Allison. Guess I just don't visit the Hooters Web site nearly often enough.

"The visit came at the request of Buffett so the group could pose for a Christmas Card photo with the chain's beautiful Hooters girls," the news release gushed.

You have to wonder who received that card. A great inspiration for all those girls around the world the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is trying to inspire through science and education, perhaps? Nice move. Money < brains

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November 7, 2006 2:24 PM

Seattle is the new Geneva

Posted by Kristi Heim

Among the global health organizations converging on Seattle, a U.K.-based group called Riders for Health is in town this week to give a talk at PATH.


Riders for Health at work in improving health-services delivery in Africa.

Paul Allen's Vulcan Productions and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded a TV documentary last year that Riders appeared in called Rx for Survival. Andrea Coleman, a former professional motorcycle racer, started the charity with her husband 10 years ago to improve transportation for delivering health services in Africa.

"If you don't have transportation in Africa, however wonderful the drugs are, they don't get to the people who need them," she said.

Riders raises money through events like the "Highway to Health," a 51-day bike across Australia. The group is looking for partners in Seattle because this area "represents a huge body of belief and people and interest in global health," she said. And a lot of money, too.

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November 1, 2006 3:02 PM

Citizen of the year

Posted by Kristi Heim

Bill Clapp has spent plenty of time on top of the world, but now his mission is to serve those on the bottom. An avid pilot and local business leader, Clapp is co-founder of both Global Partnerships and the Initiative for Global Development.


Betty Udesen / Seattle Times
Bill Clapp is being recognized for his philanthropic work.

He has advocated extending basic financial services to the world's poorest people. Earlier this year, I talked with him about the state of microcredit, or giving small loans to help mostly poor women in developing countries to build businesses.

Clapp, the great-grandson of Weyerhaeuser co-founder Matthew Norton, retired from his family's investment company in 2001 to focus on philanthropy. He mentioned a trip to El Salvador 11 years ago that changed his life. "If you meet the poor in their own homes, you are forever transformed," he said. Seeing the hard work and potential of a poor family to rise above miserable circumstances promotes "a greater understanding of the human spirit," he said. "The truth is they are battling and they are inspiring us every day."

Clapp has obviously inspired a few people, too. Today he is being honored by the World Affairs Council as the 2006 World Citizen for "his commitment to internationalism through his work in the field of alleviating poverty."

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October 9, 2006 1:10 PM

Post-Woz video footage

Posted by Kim Peterson

Steve Wozniak hit town late last week, stopping at RealNetworks, Microsoft and other places to promote his new book, called "I, Woz," and talk about the good ol' pre-iPod days at Apple.

I wasn't able to make it, but was OK with that, having caught up with Wozniak at the University of Washington in April and in San Francisco last month at Apple's iPod announcement event.

Sounds like he got quite the reception at Microsoft, where he received a 15-second standing ovation, according to this blog.

Sam Ramji from Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab recorded an interview he did with Wozniak and posted it here.

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September 26, 2006 2:30 PM

Head of Boeing IT leaving for Gates Foundation

Posted by Kristi Heim

Microsoft isn't the only company with employees eyeing new career opportunities at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Dave Fennell

Dave Fennell, vice president for Boeing Information Systems, is about to leave for a new position heading IT systems at the Gates Foundation. Fennell, who has spent the majority of his 29-year career at Boeing, was in charge of creating and maintaining quality assurance systems across the company. At Boeing Commercial, he's served as chief information officer and managed computing support for all of the airplane programs.

The Gates Foundation certainly has the prestige and the pocketbook to attract top talent from many fields. Still it's interesting that an IT whiz like Fennell would find a niche at a charitable foundation. How challenging could it be to network a non-profit after you've managed a fleet of airplanes across the globe?

No doubt having someone like Fennell reflects Bill Gates' own sensibilities and the basic philosophy of using technology to solve the world's problems. It also points to a key role technology could play linking an increasing number of partners and projects around the world as the foundation ramps up.

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September 21, 2006 11:17 AM

Quoted: H-P's Patricia Dunn

Posted by Kim Peterson

"All I will say about the maelstrom is that I look forward eagerly, in the near future, to setting the record straight and going back to leading my life as discretely as possible. And in the meantime, it wouldn't hurt if the Pope continued to make controversial comments to grab the attention of the press."

--Hewlett-Packard chairwoman Patricia Dunn, as she was being inducted Wednesday night into the Hall of Fame of the Bay Area Council, a business group. Reporters, by the way, were banished to the back of the room during her remarks and not allowed to talk to her.

Earlier that day, news broke that H-P considered planting spies in the offices of two news organizations that were covering the company.

H-P has stopped cooperating with the state of California's investigation into the company's questionable surveillance practices, attorney general Bill Lockyer said today. The company is planning to hold its own press conference tomorrow.

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September 5, 2006 5:32 PM

Report: Hewlett-Packard spied on board's calls

Posted by Kim Peterson

A simply bizarre story out of Newsweek: Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman Patricia Dunn hired electronic security experts to spy on the phone conversations of other board members.

Dunn reportedly suspected a director of leaking information to online news site CNet, and snooped into the telephone records of the directors' personal accounts, including their cellphones and home telephones.

Dunn and HP would not comment for the article, which was based on documents the SEC is considering whether to make public.

Tom Perkins, the "Perkins" in Silicon Valley VC heavyweight Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, said he quit the board immediately upon hearing about Dunn's actions. Over the past several months he has battled HP to make public the reasons for his resignation. The person who did leak was outed, the story said, but is unnamed and continues to serve on the board. (Board of directors list here)

Update: Today the Wall Street Journal names George Keyworth as the source of the media leak. Keyworth was a former science adviser to President Ronald Reagan. The board asked Keyworth to resign, the story said, but he refused, saying that decision was up to shareholders. (Link, sub. required).

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September 1, 2006 1:26 PM

The world's most powerful women

Posted by Kristi Heim

Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was ranked 12th on Forbes new list of the 100 most powerful women in the world.

For the list, Forbes looked at public visibility and economic impact, which measures the size of the economic sphere the leader controls. Since the Gates Foundation's economic sphere is about to expand by about $30 billion, so will Melinda Gates' influence. But besides the money, it seems that her ideas about how to approach philanthropy and global health also play a big role.

One interesting phenomenon Forbes noted is that women are gaining power around the world. This year German Chancellor Angela Merkel displaced U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as the world's most powerful woman. Only 53 of the women on the list were American.

In the past 12 months, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became president of Liberia, Michelle Bachelet president of Chile and Han Myung-sook South Korea's first female prime minister, the article noted. Meanwhile, the United States has yet to elect a woman president.

While number of high-ranking female officers in the biggest U.S. companies remained essentially flat over the last three years, the number of women running large companies throughout the world climbed to 48, up from 35 last year.

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August 30, 2006 8:58 AM

Google and Apple in the boardroom

Posted by Kim Peterson

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt joins Apple's board. Very interesting.

I wonder how much of this was brought about by Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson, who is also a board member of Google and Apple.

Apple's board also includes the chairman of Intuit, the chief executive of J. Crew and former Vice President Al Gore.

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August 30, 2006 8:58 AM

Google and Apple in the boardroom

Posted by Kim Peterson

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt joins Apple's board. Very interesting.

I wonder how much of this was brought about by Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson, who is also a board member of Google and Apple.

Apple's board also includes the chairman of Intuit, the chief executive of J. Crew and former Vice President Al Gore.

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August 9, 2006 5:01 PM

Kai-Fu Lee watch: Another Google center to open

Posted by Kim Peterson

Former Microsoft executive Kai-Fu Lee has been busy at Google this year. Under Lee's watch, Google is planning to open a research center in Shanghai next year. This is in addition to new centers in Beijing and Taipei. Lee is quoted in the Shanghai Daily about the project.

Google also said that by the end of the year it will double the number of sites using its advertising network in China.

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July 18, 2006 3:22 PM

Sonics sold off; local techies stand to cash in

Posted by Kim Peterson

The Sonics and Storm have been sold to an Oklahoma City group for $350 million, which likely means a pretty nice payout for some of the local tech crowd that owned the teams. Click here for the whole list of Sonics team owners.

The techies in the group include:

John Stanton, former chairman of Western Wireless and former CEO of VoiceStream Wireless (now T-Mobile USA)
Theresa Gillespie, Stanton's wife and a former vice-chair of Western Wireless
Peter van Oppen, chief executive of ADIC
W. Russell Daggatt, former Teledesic president
Alan Bender, former Western Wireless and T-Mobile executive and his wife Joyce
Mikal Thomsen, the former president and COO of Western Wireless and wife Lynn
Naveen Jain, chief executive of Intelius
Greg Maffei, former Microsoft executive and chief executive of Liberty Media

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July 18, 2006 10:33 AM

Wendy McCaw, newsmaker

Posted by Kristi Heim

I have to wonder what Craig McCaw must think when he hears about the escapades of his ex-wife, Wendy McCaw, whom he fought in court in 1997 over a fortune estimated at $1.3 billion in the largest divorce case ever in Washington state.

In case you missed it, the New York Times has a fascinating story about a staff revolt at the Santa Barbara News-Press, which Wendy McCaw owns. She bought the paper for $100 million in 2000 with proceeds from the McCaw cellular empire, once the nation's largest cellphone company. Two years later, an arbitrator ordered McCaw to pay her ex-boyfriend about $15 million.

No wonder Santa Barbara is a good setting for soap operas.

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July 12, 2006 10:51 AM

Helping Microvision board count its coins

Posted by Kristi Heim

Brian Turner, chief financial officer of Coinstar, became the newest board member at Microvision, the company said today. Turner, 46, has been at Coinstar since 2003. The Bellevue company makes coin-counting machines. Before that Turner was CFO, treasurer and vice president of operations at RealNetworks. Microvision, which makes light-scanning technologies, has been reshuffling its board this year and bringing in new members from outside the company as part of an effort to turn around its finances and stem losses that have been as high as $7 million a quarter. Last month it closed a public stock offering, raising $23.5 million.

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July 11, 2006 3:29 PM

Gates honored at Tech Museum

Posted by Kristi Heim

Bill Gates was chosen to receive a humanitarian award by The Tech Museum of Innovation in Silicon Valley, writes Therese Poletti.

Microsoft's founder will be given the 2006 James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award for his philanthropy and technology benefiting humanity. The award, named after the former CEO of Applied Materials, honors "an individual or organization whose broad vision and leadership on a global scale are helping society find solutions to some of humanity's greatest challenges," the museum said. A committee chose Gates as this year's honoree a couple months ago. That was before Gates said he would be shifting out of his role at Microsoft in two years to focus on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and before Warren Buffett's decision to donate more than $30 billion of his own fortune to that cause.

A Microsoft spokesman said Gates plans to attend the award ceremony Nov. 15 in San Jose.

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June 28, 2006 2:42 PM

Microsoft Business Division personnel moves

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft today announced the following changes in its business division:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM development, Line of Business Interoperability and Business Intelligence groups are now under the Office Business Platform group, headed by Kurt DelBene.

Lewis Levin was promoted to corporate vice president of Office Business Application Strategy.

Marketing for Exchange, Unified Communications and Office Business Applications now falls under the leadership of Chris Capossela, corporate vice president of the business division's Product Management group.

The Worldwide Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners (SMS&P) group, which sells to small and mid-sized businesses, will move to report to Kevin Turner, chief operating officer. Eduardo Rosini was appointed corporate vice president of that group.

Orlando Ayala is joining SMS&P as senior vice president of the Emerging Segments Market Development team, reporting to Turner. This team will look at long-term business opportunities and investments in emerging markets. More information on this effort is due out in the fall.

Allison Watson, part of the SMS&P leadership team, was promoted to corporate vice president and will join Turner's extended leadership team.

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June 16, 2006 9:59 AM

Bill Gates-Spidey-FDR connection

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Our summer intern, Bibeka Shrestha, points out a curious coincidence lurking in some of Bill Gates' comments Thursday. In discussing his decision to transition from business leader to full-time philanthropist, Gates said, "I believe that with great wealth comes great responsibility -- a responsibility to give back to society and to see that those resources are put to work in the best possible way to help those most in need."

It sounds a bit familiar, right? Check the tagline on Spider-Man.

Update: Another Times intern, Zachary Burns, followed the Gates quote and the Spidey tag line back further.

Writes Burns, "Actually the line and Stan Lee (creator of Spider-Man) draw their influence from a speech Franklin Delano Roosevelt was to give before he died. The line is a derivative of the following: 'Today, we have learned in the agony of war that great power involves great responsibility.'"

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June 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Microvision gets IBM exec on board

Posted by Kristi Heim

Microvision snagged a seasoned technology executive from IBM to fill an opening on its board today, announcing new director Jeanette Horan, who heads IBM's Silicon Valley Laboratory and is vice president of Worldwide Information Managment Development.

Horan, a U.K. native, has been at IBM since 1998. Before that she helped develop and market the AltaVista Web search engine at Digital Equipment Corp.

Microvision, which has struggled bring its technology to market and keep afloat financially, has been changing the makeup of its board in an attempt to turn the company around. On April 10, the company was warned it was not in compliance with the Nasdaq rule requiring it to have a majority of independent directors. Horan's appointment could be helpful on both fronts.


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June 5, 2006 6:09 AM

Tech exec jumps into politics

Posted by Kristi Heim


POGO LINUX
Tim Lee, CEO of Pogo Linux

Tech entrepreneur Tim Lee is making his first run for political office, announcing his campaign today for the Republican nomination to the 45th District seat in the state House.

Lee, founder and chief executive of computer server maker Pogo Linux, started the company in 1999 when he was still a student at UC Berkeley and moved the company to Redmond two years later. Now he hopes to win the seat occupied by Democratic incumbent Larry Springer.

Lee, who describes himself as socially moderate and fiscally conservative, said it was Sen. Bill Finkbeiner who first encouraged him to run for office earlier this year. In the business world, his Linux-based servers present competition for Microsoft's Windows platform. In the political world, he would represent Microsofties living on the Eastside and says solving traffic problems would be a high priority.

Good thing Lee's company is profitable -- in the past this race has proven to be expensive, but the job itself only pays about $34,000.

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May 8, 2006 1:50 PM

Pay-what-you-will model nets entrepreneur award

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Brian Livingston, Seattle-based editor of the Windows Secrets newsletter and author of numerous computer books, won an award for the unusual way he charges subscribers to his twice-monthly e-mails.

Pay what ever you want, Livingston tells subscribers, and 17,000 out of approximately 140,000 have done so. Their contributions range from $5 to $100 apiece.

That model caught the attention of MarketingSherpa, a research firm that named Livingston "Entrepreneur of the Year" at its New York City conference on Internet content subscription sales today.

In a news release announcing the award, Livingston said the contributions from more affluent readers of his newsletter -- described as a survival guide for Windows users -- "subsidize those who may be on unemployment but still need to keep up their Windows skills."

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May 3, 2006 4:25 PM

SAS: The world's richest man

Posted by Kim Peterson

Bill Gates doesn't really want to be on the top of one particular list.

When Donny Deutsch asked him about his financial status, Gates said he wished he wasn't the world's richest man.

"There's nothing good that comes out of that," he said.

When Deutsch suggested, however, that Gates wouldn't want to be No. 2 on the list, Gates disagreed.

"No," he said. "You get more visibility as a result of that."

At the end of the interview, Deutsch asked why Gates wouldn't consider running for president.

"For every reason," he said. "I wouldn't like it, I wouldn't be elected, I'm better at what i'm doing. That's a very unusual job, and the work I can do, whether it's time spent on Microsoft or the [Bill and Melinda Gates] Foundation, all my learnings have built up to be able to operate in that way and so I'm going to stick to what I know."

Gates also said that he doesn't have an iPod and that he doesn't carry a wallet around that often. I suppose that's how someone stays on top of the richest man list.

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May 2, 2006 5:14 PM

Amazonian gift

Posted by Monica Soto

Amazon.com founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos donated nearly 30,000 shares to one or more charities, according to a new regulatory filing.

At yesterday's closing price of $34.38, the stock is worth north of $1 million. No word on who got the loot.

Our vote? Trekkies Anonymous.

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April 20, 2006 2:50 PM

Hello

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

A quick introduction: My name is Benjamin Romano and I'm stepping into the large shoes Brier Dudley has left on the Microsoft beat. (Brier will still be contributing his wit and wisdom in a column and a blog on all things technology, with an emphasis on Microsoft.)

I've been covering biotechnology for the business section at The Seattle Times since last fall. Before that, I covered agriculture and business in Central Washington, and fishing and timber issues in Oregon. I've looked closely at several elements of the Pacific Northwest economy and I'm eager to learn and report about one of the region's and world's iconic companies.

Give me a call. I'd be happy to chat about Microsoft and technology in general. (206) 464-2149.

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April 14, 2006 10:42 AM

Steve Wozniak in Seattle

Posted by Kim Peterson

I'm getting several calls and e-mails from readers asking if Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak will be making any speeches or public appearances in Seattle today. Turns out he's on the road to Portland with his god-daughter. They're going to see "Larry the Cable Guy," a comedy show. From there he'll be flying home.

If you were at the University Village Apple store Thursday, you might have seen him. His god-daughter, University of Washington student Julie Roebuck, used to work there and wanted to introduce Woz to her co-workers. I would have loved to see that but was in the office writing this story and this Q&A on Wozniak, which ran in today's paper.

Some UW students stayed after Wozniak's speech Thursday to talk to him. They admired his watch, a large contraption on his wrist that contained vacuum tube parts. When he rotated his wrist a certain way, digital numbers would glow and show the time.

"That's tight, man," said one student.

"I know," Wozniak said.

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