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How highly valued Microsoft has avoided the Big Tech backlash




"And once you're in the cross hairs, it's hard to get out," Smith said.

The natural tendency of the young technology forces is to fight. "They didn't get to where they were," Smith said. "They got to where they are because they were sticking to their guns. And so they tend to think they are right, and the government is wrong. ”

That mentality is especially true for hugely successful and prosperous founders. According to Microsoft, Smith's co-founder Bill Gates, "he learned that life actually requires compromises and that government is actually stronger than corporations," if only after a blues confrontation.

Mr. Gates, who wrote the foreword in Mr. Smith's book, remembered that for years he was proud of how little time he spent talking to people in government. "When I learned the hard way in the antitrust suit," he wrote, "it was not a wise position to take."

At Microsoft, Smith pushed for the new course. Horacio Gutierrez, a former Microsoft senior lawyer who is now Spotify's attorney general, said: "We went from dealing with governments in a reactive, defensive way to reaching out and being proactive."

While Mr. Smith cleaned up Microsoft's legacy of legal problems, the technology industry continued. The personal computer was no longer the center of gravity, displaced by smartphones, Internet searches, social networks and cloud computing.

"What you saw at Microsoft was recognizing reality and a response to changing circumstances," said A. Douglas Melamed, a professor at Stanford Law School. Microsoft is not in the spotlight of criticism today, he said, "mainly because the company is not dominant in the visible ways it used to be."



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