Brad Smith joined Microsoft in 1993, spending his first three years at the tech giant in Paris working as part of the legal and corporate affairs team. Now, as the president of Microsoft, Smith has earned himself a legacy as a leader, whose stance on prominent issues and refusal to back down from what is right is celebrated across the industry.
Today, Amazon and Microsoft are locked in a bitter fight over who will supply the U.S. military’s cloud computing infrastructure. In fact, Amazon is now suing the Defense Department and Microsoft over a lucrative contract called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, known as JEDI. The multi-billion-dollar cloud contract was awarded to Microsoft on October 25 and estimated to be worth up to $10 billion for services over 10 years.
“Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias — and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified,” Amazon told CNBC. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon also owns The Washington Post, a publication consistently criticized by the President for its coverage of his administration. This has brought the e-commerce giant to also contend that there’s been significant political interference during the deal.
However, Smith responded to Amazon's protest with a few choice words. “In any technology race, if you think that you’re so far ahead that you can’t possibly lose, you’re probably going to lose,” he said. “That’s what we’ve learned time and time again. There’s a second lesson that applied to ourselves -- never conclude that you’re so far behind that you can’t catch up if you work harder than your competitor. So we put more and more engineers working pretty much 7 days a week for 13 months to constantly create a better product.”
This isn’t new territory for Smith who has been a longtime influential figure within Microsoft, shaping the company’s reputation on a global scale while being on the frontlines of the tech giant’s high-profile court battles, including the antitrust case in the late 90s. Smith hasn’t just been instrumental to the legal side of the company but has also led Microsoft in outreach as well as reconciliation. He’s been central to trips made to the attorney general as well as being the company diplomat.
“He’s a spokesperson for a technology company, but he has become a larger spokesperson for the technology industry at a time in our society where technology is playing a larger and larger role in everything we do,” said Gillian Lester, the dean of Columbia Law School.
When it comes to the U.S military and JEDI, Smith ensures that Microsoft “will be engaged.”