New York Times Publishes Critical Profile of Microsoft Executive Mark Penn

One hypothesis I frequently promote is that the media loves to criticise Microsoft and will take any opportunity to do so.  The high negative anti-microsoft sentiment in the tech blogs often bubbles its way into the mainstream press.  Newly minted Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently promoted Mark Penn to Chief Strategy Officer.  Mark Penn is the mastermind behind the Scroogled campaign.

Previous to Microsoft, Mr. Penn was a high level democratic political consultant who eventually worked on Hilary Clinton’s political campaign.  Mr. Penn has always received pretty favorable press coverage especially from more center-left leaning publications as the New York Times.

But it seems now that Mark Penn works for Microsoft he has fallen out of favor with the press. And the Times has published a fairly negative hit piece on Mr. Penn.  Here is an excerpt from the NYT article with some of the spin taken out:

Mark Penn has spent years spinning for politicians in Washington. Mr. Penn was the mastermind behind the “3 a. m.” television commercial during the 2008 presidential campaign that questioned whether Barack Obama was prepared to be president. Mr. Penn has had a long relationship with Mr. Ballmer and with Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder and former chief executive, whom he advised during the company’s antitrust battles.

Mr. Penn, 60, joined Microsoft in 2012 as a senior adviser to Steven A. Ballmer, the chief executive at the time, and later came to oversee its advertising. Mr. Ballmer asked Mr. Penn to join the company full time to help shake up its marketing. Many people within Microsoft felt the company had been too passive in allowing competitors to portray it negatively in the press.

 On Monday, he was named chief strategy officer for the tech giant, a role that seemed to position him as a critical adviser to the company’s new leader, Satya Nadella. Mr. Nadella praised Mr. Penn for his “blend of data analysis and creativity,” which recently helped shape an ad campaign that began during the Super Bowl.

After news of Mr. Penn’s new job leaked over the weekend, his supporters at Microsoft trumpeted the change as effectively a promotion and a validation of the data-driven polling tactics he brought to Microsoft from his political career.

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