Microsoft: Misery sure loves this company

In the car, in the cloud, in the executive suite -- Microsoft can't seem to catch a break this week

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Redmond's revolving door

Speaking of Microsoft professionals, let's move on to exciting executive news. Continuing its trend of promoting from within to engender fresh changes in Microsoft culture and leadership, Redmond announced it's promoting Mark Penn to a clearly defined gig: head of strategy. Penn has been at Microsoft for several years and is responsible for the "Scroogled" campaign that everyone (read: no one) thought was a huge success. Prior to Microsoft, Penn held the undoubtedly techno-savvy job of political strategist, the high point of which was when he helped Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential bid crash and burn. Shortly after that he joined a big technology company -- undoubtedly not at all related to his success in politics.

Meanwhile, as a probable consequence of Penn's ascension, Microsoft loses two executives who were both passed over for the same gig. Actually, Microsoft delisted one of them, Tony Bates, not only for head of strategy, but also for CEO, losing to Microsoft longtimer and email poet, Satya Nadella. However, analysts agree that bypassing Bates for both jobs was the right thing to do now that Microsoft is looking for new leadership perspectives. Think about it: He came to Microsoft a dejected, beaten man whose only accomplishment was making a huge success out of Skype and selling it for a massive profit -- mostly for himself.

I've never heard of the other soon-to-fly exec, Tami Reller, though her long anonymity despite holding senior leadership positions speaks well of her big-corporate political talents.

That old Gates magic

All in all, the only really positive Microsoft-related announcement so far this week is that Superbrain Emeritus Bill Gates has reclaimed the top spot as world's most ridiculously wealthy man in Forbes' annual "Who's the Fairest Billionaire" competition. His reported net worth of $76 billion would have been beaten by Flappy Birds inventor Dong Nguyen, if he hadn't folded under pressure, and only narrowly exceeded the growing wealth of Justin Bieber's legal team. If Bieber manages to avoid rehab in 2014, I think his group has a great chance in 2015.

My guess at what spiked Gates' fortune this past year? I'm pretty sure he invested in Apple.

This article, "Microsoft: Misery sure loves this company," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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