Posted by Andrea L. TaylorDirector, North America Community Affairs Last week the White House announced the inaugural grants of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) that included the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS), as one of 11 award recipients. The two-year, $7.7 million award will fund an expansion of existing training programs in several of 23 NFWS sites and the establishment of 6-8 new sites. Displaced workers in America’s cities are the beneficiaries of the good news here. The National Fund is already providing sector-based training for adults in cities such as Baltimore, Hartford, New York and Seattle and is developing best practices that can be replicated in other communities. As an SIF recipient, the National Fund is uniquely positioned to help transform the way we cultivate talent in the U.S., especially for more than 80 million adults who struggle without 21st century skills that align with today’s new knowledge economy.
Governor Gregoire has created a new Higher Education Task Force and asked me to serve as its chair. In keeping with the task force approach, our group is scheduled to meet four times this summer and early fall to develop a long-term strategic approach to maximizing the impact and return our state receives on its investment in higher education. Our specific charges are (1) to develop a realistic and viable funding strategy that keeps higher education affordable for Washington students; (2) recommend ways to improve accountability for performance among our higher education institutions; and (3) examine whether the governance system for higher education could be updated to become more effective. The challenges are clear. Our state is home to numerous employers, including Microsoft, that utilize great numbers of employees with higher education degrees. The future of our state economy is directly tied to these high-skilled workers. At the same time, our four-year institutions are at the low end in producing graduates with these types of skills and degrees. And the state budget crisis has put additional financial pressure on all our colleges and universities, making it even harder for them to invest in programs to produce graduates ready to step into these high-demand fields.
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 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.