Microsoft makes top lawyer Brad Smith its vice chair

Brad Smith, President, Microsoft, on SaaS Monster stage during the opening day of Web Summit 2019 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal.
Harry Murphy | Sportsfile | Getty Images

Microsoft said Tuesday its board approved the appointment of its president, Brad Smith, to the position of vice chair. The move comes months after Satya Nadella took on the role of chairman after joining the board when he replaced Steve Ballmer as CEO in 2014.

The appointment follows a quarter of a century of contributions to the software and hardware maker, including dealing with antitrust concerns from regulators.

“This reflects the unique leadership role that Brad plays for the company, our board of directors and me, with governments and other external stakeholders around the world,” Nadella was quoted as saying in a statement.

Smith, 62, is Microsoft’s top lawyer, and he regularly represents the software company in policy discussions. He is among Microsoft top executives, leading over 1,500 people in legal and corporate affairs in 54 countries, according to a biography on Microsoft’s website.

Microsoft recognized his work on sustainability, responsible artificial intelligence, external Covid-19 efforts and employee diversity in the 2020 fiscal year in its most recent proxy statement, which said he received $16.7 million in total annual compensation. Smith owns about 732,000 shares of Microsoft stock, worth around $217 million, according to FactSet.

He joined Microsoft in 1993 from the law firm Covington & Burling to run Microsoft’s corporate and legal affairs in Europe, and he became Microsoft’s general counsel in 2002. Over the next decade he handled the resolution of antitrust cases, according to the biography.

Smith became Microsoft’s president and joined Netflix’s board of directors in 2015. He is the author, with Carol Ann Browne, of “Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age,” a 2019 book that discusses privacy and security.

Smith will continue to report to Nadella, Microsoft said.

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