By Dave HeinerVice President and Deputy General Counsel
In November 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice determined that a plan by Google to provide advertising next to just a portion of the search results on Yahoo’s competing search engine was illegal under the antitrust laws. Google wasn’t especially interested in the additional viewership for its ads—it already had massive ad volume—but rather in scuttling Microsoft’s efforts to combine with Yahoo to form a stronger competitor to Google in search. Google was quite open about this. When asked in September 2008 to name the most important development for Google in the preceding six months, Google’s Eric Schmidt replied “the Yahoo business deal . . . It was a setback for Microsoft.” (Ken Auletta, Googled, 2009)
History seems to be repeating itself, now on the other side of the Pacific. The two main search advertising platforms in Japan are run by Google and Yahoo Japan (which is controlled by Softbank Corp.) Google plans to replace Yahoo Japan’s search advertising platform with its own, reducing the number of ad platforms in Japan to just one. Google will take over the natural search results on Yahoo Japan too, replacing the Yahoo search service that Yahoo Japan had optimized for Japanese queries. The proposed deal will eliminate search competition in Japan—in paid advertising and natural search results.
Today Google accounts for about 51% of paid search advertising in Japan. Yahoo Japan accounts for 47%. Their combined share of natural search results is almost as high. If Google is permitted to proceed with its plan, it would gain nearly complete control over search and search advertising in Japan through contract, not organic growth. Google alone would decide what consumers in Japan will find, or not find, on the Web. And Google will obtain massive amounts of data regarding the search history and Web sites visited by every consumer, business and government agency that conducts Web searches.
Posted by Laura RubyDirector, Accessibility Policy & Standards Yesterday the White House announced that the government will renew its commitment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires access to the federal government's electronic and information technology for people with disabilities. The announcement was part of the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which gives 43 million Americans with disabilities the promise of equal access to all the benefits and advantages of society. Section 508 applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain or use electronic and information technology. Today’s announcement focused on ensuring better agency accountability and more responsibility for implementing Section 508 requirements, so that the benefits of information technology are made available to those with disabilities and to older people who often experience vision, hearing or dexterity impairments as they age. Accessible technology enables people with disabilities to access services and pursue education and employment in today’s competitive and connected digital workplace. It also helps business leaders and governments empower and retain top employees and aging workers. The United States has been a leader on accessibility, and many other countries look to Section 508 as a model. The law helps ensure a more vibrant and competitive technology industry, as the government’s commitment to adopt the most accessible technology products creates a powerful incentive for investment in accessibility improvements. To continue sending the right signals to industry, however, the government must set clear goals and guidelines, without favoring one technology or business framework over another. Also, agency staff who carry out the policy need sufficient training in how to use, evaluate and maintain accessible technology.
Posted by John Seethoff Vice President and Deputy General Counsel
Earlier this week President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law. While the legislation is focused primarily on overhauling the U.S. financial regulatory system, the Act contains eight provisions addressing corporate governance and executive compensation that will have a significant impact on public companies.
The Act writes another chapter in the discussion about shareholders voting on executive pay (commonly referred to as “say-on-pay”). Last year, we considered two shareholder proposals for our 2009 annual meeting requesting an advisory vote on whether to implement “say-on-pay.” Instead we went a step further and held our first say-on-pay vote giving shareholders the opportunity to weigh in on the policies and practices for compensation of the Company’s top leaders. Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and senior vice president, Legal and Corporate Affairs details Microsoft's say-on-pay policy in the latest edition of Directors & Boards, one of the industry’s leading voices on governance matters.
Posted by Dan KasunSenior Director, Microsoft Developer and Platform Evangelism
Over the past weekend, Microsoft announced support for Code for America at a dinner event in Seattle attended by Tim O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Media, as well as local officials like Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and City Councilmember Bruce Harrell. Code for America has embarked on a program to connect city governments with developers, and to foster strong collaboration and sharing between cities on technology solutions. We believe that this type of initiative can help drive innovative applications in the city government space, help grow the workforce of qualified developers, and help drive efficiency through reuse and sharing of best practices and solutions.
Here at Microsoft, we see the issues facing city governments and we believe that the power of software can help governments overcome these challenges and succeed in their missions. However, there needs to be a strong base of developers who understand not only technology, but also government issues, infrastructure, organization, systems, and needs. Another advantage is that broad collaboration between city governments can help them learn from solutions and experiences across the U.S.
Posted by Craig MundieChief Research and Strategy Officer
The United States this week took one more step forward in its plans to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) year in 2011. Microsoft joined with Chevron, Federal Express, JP Morgan Chase, Procter & Gamble, Underwriters Labs, and Walmart as founding members of the 2011 private sector host committee. I am honored to chair the APEC 2011 Host Committee. [APEC membership is drawn from 21 countries on the Pacific Rim from Asia, Latin America and North America.]
Hosting APEC in 2011 is a key opportunity for the United States to reassert its leadership on broad economic issues affecting not only business but also health, education and security in Asia. Secretary Clinton framed this opportunity perfectly in her speech in Hawaii earlier this year, when she said that “America’s future is linked to the future of the Asia‐Pacific region; and the future of this region depends on America.” We could not agree more.
The 21 APEC economies represent 2.5 billion consumers and 60% of the world’s global income. For the United States, some 60% of our exports are destined for APEC economies. Our partnerships in Asia are essential to our economic growth.
As the global economy begins to recover, we share with our partners in Asia the common objectives of creating jobs and economic opportunity to raise living standards. This is a crucial moment for U.S. leadership and the public-private partnership that we enjoy in America. For all of the companies involved, and for our country, hosting APEC 2011 is a pivotal event in U.S. engagement in this important region. We are committed to building and working in a strong partnership with the Administration and Congress to ensure successful outcomes for both government and the private sector throughout the year. With the Administration and Congress, including the important APEC Caucus in the House, we have put in place a three-way partnership for a successful APEC year in 2011.
Joining us at the launch were U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Representative Kevin Brady, a co-chair of the House Caucus on APEC, and Bob Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Agricultural, Economic and Business Affairs (insert others). All are outspoken leaders who are working to strengthen U.S. economic relations with our partners in the Asia Pacific.