Microsoft Promotes Its Top Legal Executive to President

Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and executive vice president of legal and corporate affairs, has been named the company's president, Microsoft announced Friday.

As president, Smith will be tasked with overseeing matters focusing on security, privacy, digital inclusion and environmental sustainability, according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a companywide e-mail that was republished on GeekWire.

"Brad has long had a broad role at the company and now I'm asking him to lead more new initiatives working closely with his peers on the Senior Leadership Team," Nadella wrote. "I'll look to Brad to play a bigger role in strengthening our external relationships and representing the company publicly."

Smith's promotion is just the latest move in the Microsoft reorg, spearheaded by Nadella, that started in June. The reorg is aimed at consolidating multiple company business units into three groups that will work closer together. The reorg marked the exit of key Microsoft executives, including former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.

Brad Smith at the 2015 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.

The title of company president had been vacant at Microsoft since 2002, with the resignation of Rick Belluzzo. Smith will be the only senior leader in the company with the title of president.

Smith joined Microsoft in 1993 and has spent the last 13 years as its general counsel. Recently, Smith has been on the forefront of Microsoft's electronic privacy initiatives, speaking out against the U.S. government's PRISM surveillance program and denying Microsoft's involvement in it. He has also been leading Microsoft's fight against the Department of Justice's request to hand over private data stored on Microsoft servers located in Ireland.

While Smith's new role will have him continuing to focus on privacy and intellectual property issues, he will no longer be handling day-to-day legal responsibilities, Nadella said. Instead, he will be assisting Nadella in shaping Microsoft's direction.

"Brad will work with me and others on the SLT [senior leadership team] in the coming weeks to help us organize ourselves for success, identifying the right way to have impact on these cross company initiatives," Nadella said.

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