Why is Microsoft working with Mark Penn?

So I saw this article on Politico and had to write about this because it’s typical Microsoft.

Microsoft have endorsed Mark Penn by making him Chief Strategy Officer.

Basically, CEO Satya Nadella decided to make changes and shuffle some chairs on the Microsoft deck. As part of that reorg, he made famous strategist Mark Penn CSO.

Now what’s the big deal you may ask?

Let’s talk about Mark Penn, who is he?

The article sheds some light..

Penn, known as a champion of negative ads, was a divisive figure during Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and, as a Microsoft executive, he was the mastermind behind the company’s “Scroogled” ad campaign against Google.

Nadella, who took the reins of CEO just a few weeks ago, appears to be a fan. He touted Penn’s abilities in an e-mail to employees released Monday.

“His focus on using data to quickly evaluate and evolve our campaigns has driven new insights and understanding,” Nadella said. “Mark and his team also will continue to provide input in the area of competitive research and analysis. I am looking forward to applying Mark’s unique skill set across a broader set of challenges facing the company, from new product ideas to helping shape the overall areas of strategic investment.”

Sounds great right?

Makes absolutely no sense to me.

Mark Penn is a very divisive figure and has a reputation as a rough and tumble hard nosed political figure.

The Politico article goes on.

The longtime strategist to the Clintons played a controversial role in Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

He was known for aggressive tactics such as the “3 a.m.” ad questioning whether Barack Obama had the experience to deal with a global crisis. He also was blamed for strategic decisions, such as emphasizing Clinton’s electability, that critics said gave Obama an opening to build grassroots support in the Democratic primary.

Penn, who joined Microsoft in 2012 under then-CEO Steve Ballmer, gets credit for the series of high-profile TV and print ads that slammed Google for invading consumers’ privacy by scanning Gmail content to serve up advertisements. It was part of a broader effort to challenge Google, the top Internet search engine and a key rival for Microsoft as the software giant seeks a larger foothold on the Web.

I guess that’s the heart of my question about why Microsoft is still using his services.

He worked with Hillary – that didn’t work out well and he was pretty much shooed out of the campaign involved in a scandal. Oh and Hillary lost that race.

Then he comes to Microsoft and his strategy is to intimidate and insult Google and say that they are bullies and they store data (gee who knew?). Google obviously don’t give a rats ass and the campaign, while amusing, hasn’t led Microsoft into the sunlight with Search or anything relevant.

Finally, he has no tech background (he has a Political Science degree from Harvard) and has worked in PR and politics all his life.

I don’t know the man and bear him no ill will but it seems like a somewhat strange choice and one that is sadly consistent with Microsoft’s way of doing things……. a little different.

It begs the question, why would you make your CSO someone with such high visibility failures on their record and someone who is considered controversial and divisive.

Microsoft need someone who understands Microsoft’s unique place in tech history today and someone who can uniquely understand strategically where they need to go as a TECHNOLOGY company.

Microsoft’s problem isn’t Google or Apple, it’s Microsoft. The company needs to design software and services that businesses and consumers want – period. Satya Nadella knows that the company needs to focus like a laser on EXECUTION.

Maybe this “promotion” is a gentle way of moving him aside though, Politico also says:

While the new chief strategy officer title confirms Penn still has a place in the Microsoft lineup under the new boss, there’s been some debate as to whether this is actually a promotion or not. Microsoft’s advertising budget will go to another executive, Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela, as part of the broader executive reshuffle announced Monday, according to a source familiar with the changes.

Just another curious choice by the software giant I guess.

What’s your take? What gives with the Mark Penn promotion?

Use the comments below….

Please Leave Your Comments Below...