Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.

Microsoft Releases Payoff Service Pack to Settlement 2004  | e-mail post

Apparently Bill Gates learned something from Saddam Hussein's using of bribery and payoffs to help with gaining support for a more relaxed and permissive attitudes by those ostensibly focused on reigning in their capacious appetites. [For recent discussion of Saddam's "Oil for Alliances" program, you can start with a recent update that provides backlinks.]

Just as Saddam spread ill-gotten wealth around to various parties with possible influence over the U.N. Security Council, Microsoft appears to have paid off the President of the Computer and Communications Industry Association to halt the CCIA's involvement in the EU antitrust case against Microsoft. Laura Rohde has this report in Computerworld:
The antitrust settlement between Microsoft Corp. and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) announced earlier this month included a payment of $9.75 million to the CCIA's president, according to a report published today.
Almost half of the $19.75 million total settlement went to Ed Black, who has been the president and CEO of the Washington-based industry organization since 1995, in a deal approved by the CCIA board, according to a report in the Financial Times. The newspaper cited confidential documents in its story.

A spokesman from Microsoft declined to comment on the FT report. The CCIA referred questions to Black, who couldn't be reached.
Basically, the payoffs were to get the CCIA to stop being a party to the EU antitrust litigation Microsoft is facing. Nokia has resigned from the CCIA in response to this, and the entire issue has stirred up a great deal of controversry.

Follow up in Financial Times 26-Nov-04: "MS.dosh Settlement"

The Guardian reports on the examination of the deal by the EU judge, "Judge Puts Microsoft Deal Under Scrutiny" The Guardian has some great quotations from newly-minted millionaire Ed Black. In addition to his retrospectively hypocritical criticisms of Netscape's acceptance of $750 million to drop their case against Microsoft this past May, Black used to say things like:
Microsoft is an adjudicated monopolist who continues to deliver anti-competitive, illegal products into the marketplace. Their products hurt innovation, unfairly impede competition and, in the end, harm consumers.
But today all that money seems to have taken the fight out of Ed Black:
We are pleased with this agreement and expect our relationship with Microsoft and others will enable us to address important issues impacting millions of people and the future of our industry. While there may be times when we and Microsoft will not agree on every issue, we are looking forward to developing a stronger relationship.
The EU judge hearing the case will keep all the testimony provided already by the CCIA and other who have been bought out of the case, according to another Guardian story.

Interestingly, the NY Times doesn't seem to mention the Black payoff, even though it seems to be well-publicized in Europe. [NYT Nov 25] [NYT Nov 24]

And while the story was picked up by the Dow Jones Newswires [through WSJ link], apparently the Wall Street Journal's editors felt that the story wouldn't fit well with their typical position on EU antitrust issues, so they have neglected to mention it in their reporting. Hardly shocking. As much as I do like the WSJ, I believe that they are at least as bad as any media outlet with respect to editorial bias.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Saturday, November 27, 2004
Well of course! Ol' Bill finally figured it out. Before the Clinton Justice department lawsuit, he thought that just being a good producer would be enough. He learned that he didn't bribe enough government officials, oops, I mean, hire enough lobbiers. So now that he's been sued by the government, he's learned he needs to bribe governments to keep them off his backs.
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