Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Banks on Getting Close to Government Officials

Piggy bank and notes



Summary: Microsoft is sniffing a lot around banks and bailout these days; shareholders angry over new scandal

ASIDE from the latest Washington DC PR stunts from Microsoft, there is a lot of interesting news which shows Microsoft getting closer and closer to the banking community. We wrote about Microsoft and M-Com just a few days ago.



Microsoft's relationship with Citibank is a subject that we covered a year ago when there was obvious Microsoft bias from the bank. Well, guess what? Citigroup, the parent of this bank, wants to compete with a financial news site right now. Conflict of interests? Just pretend it ain't so. But look at Citibank's partner for this venture. It's Microsoft.

Citigroup has formed a venture with Microsoft Corp to compete with Mint.com, the personal-finance website that Intuit Inc agreed to buy last week for $170 million (Dh624 million), people familiar with the matter said.

[...]

After last year's $45 billion bailout, Pandit may have to justify the cost of each project, said Thomas Noyes, who until 2007 headed Citigroup's international Internet and mobile-banking businesses.

[...]

Microsoft runs MSN Money, a website that displays stock quotes, offers tools for tracking bank accounts and publishes articles and columns on investments, personal budgeting and credit repair.


This is ridiculous. While not descending to the corruption that led to this whole "bailout" thing (colossal public looting), worth noting here is that it's ethically wrong for a bank to own, control or even collaborate with news sites that cover its activity.

Remember MSNBC [1, 2]? Remember the Chinese president meeting Bill Gates on a rare visit, as though this is his highest priority (coming before a meeting with the US president)? Watch what the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan has planned for his own visit to the United States. The following came up some days ago:

Prime Minister Igor Chudinov is visiting USA, governmental press service reports.

During the visit I. Chudinov will take part in a work the 64th session of UN General Assembly and Climate Change Summit.I. Chudinov will meet with leadership of the State Department, World Bank, IMF, representatives of Microsoft corporation.


Watch this carefully. He meets the government, a large bank, another international bank, and then... Microsoft. Anyone else? No.

He met Microsoft before [1, 2], after his nation had been knocked offline by Windows botnets.

Here again in the news is Microsoft and the Bank of New York cooperating on the management of bailout money (i.e. looting allocations). We saw the accompanying press release last week and here is the Federal Computer Weekly Web site (no relation to the government, never kind the gross Microsoft bias) covering this:

Microsoft and Bank of New York Mellon announced earlier this month that they are working together to help state and local governments meet reporting requirements related to economic stimulus funding.


Why does Microsoft get to manage all this? How does the Microsoft-influenced government feel about it?

All these entanglements are getting problematic. Consider for instance Microsoft's newly-found influence at the FCC and watch this release from Microsoft.

A study commissioned by Microsoft Corp. estimates that the unlicensed "white spaces" spectrum coveted by the software giant and other technology companies could be worth more than $100 billion over the next 15 years.

[...]

The companies were met with stiff resistance from the telecommunications, media and audio technology industries, though the FCC ultimately approved the unlicensed use of the white spaces late last year.


Is Microsoft trying to lobby the FCC to give it a place on the table and greater access to taxpayers' money? Is that the purpose of Microsoft paying people to conduct a so-called 'study'? Microsoft does not create white papers for educational purposes; It is not in shareholders' interest.

Speaking of shareholders' interest, one shareholder is publicly blasting Microsoft regarding this incident.

If the say-on-pay had been in place, you have to wonder how many investors would vote to spend that kind of money on relocating one executive.


Jackson, who claims to have a "long position in MSFT," writes:

Microsoft's Distasteful Plans to Save Us from the Housing Crisis



[...]

This last disclosure came out late Friday in Microsoft's preliminary proxy.

Michelle studiously noticed that in that same filing, Microsoft disclosed that it may outdo the Fed and the Obama administration in saving the country from the current financial mess. Specifically, they are going to focus on the housing mess and try to stabilize the market one Bay Area executive mansion at a time.

[...]

The reason for this was that Elop apparently couldn't sell it. Therefore, using bizarre executive comp logic, he hired 3 independent appraisers to peg the value of his home and got Microsoft's shareholders to pay him that amount for the home. This was all to "induce" him to take the job of heading up Microsoft's Business Services Division in Redmond. I know it rains more in the winter in Seattle, but that's quite an "inducement." I guess the "war for talent" is brutal -- even in the biggest recession since the Great Depression.

[...]

If Elop couldn't sell his house in the Bay Area and he didn't want to carry the mortgage on it while moving to Seattle, that's his decision. As a shareholder, I'd say let's find some other executive who does want this exciting opportunity. Enough with the "that's what we had to do to get this talent" logic. There are many talented people that would have jumped through hoops for this job.

It's too bad Elop and Kevin Johnson couldn't have coordinated their plans to switch jobs at Microsoft and Juniper Networks. They could have saved shareholders a lot of expense by just doing a house swap.


Going back to the FCC, recall what Microsoft's co-founder Paul Allen is doing with wireless (we wrote about it last week). Allen is still up to mysterious things in his low-profile life:

Microsoft co-founder on secret jaunt to Israel - with 92-meter yacht



Microsoft founder and multi-billionaire Paul G. Allen landed Friday at Ben-Gurion Airport, the day after his 92-meter mega-yacht, Tatoosh, anchored at the Ashdod port - since no regular Israeli marina is large enough to hold the ship, the world's 26th largest motor yacht. He took a helicopter from the airport to his yacht.

[...]

As to what Allen is doing in Israel - he is considered extremely secretive and has banned journalists from his yacht and covering his visit.


How polite. Secrecy sometimes indicates something illegal/unethical is being done, not necessarily a crime.

"Behind every great fortune there is a crime."

--Honor de Balzac

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