As a congressional committee prepared to publicly question the CEOs of four tech giants in 2020, Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith, whose employer was not on the hotseat, gave lawmakers a private briefing. When Australia proposed a law to enforce facebook and Google to pay for news articles, Mr. Smith approved and Microsoft offered Bing as an alternative. When the US was considering similar legislation, he went to Washington to testify before Congress to show his support.
Mr. Smith, a Microsoft veteran of nearly 30 years and president for seven years, has maneuvered his company into an enviable position in a regulatory environment increasingly hostile to tech titans. Once an antitrust pariah itself, Microsoft is now widely seen by regulators as the friendly side among today’s top tech companies, a status that government officials and Microsoft insiders say stems largely from the cultivation of friends of Mr. Smith in Washington.