Microsoft’s Peggy Johnson Reflects Company’s Shift on Business Dealings

Peggy Johnson was less than a day into her new job at Microsoft in 2014 when a daunting assignment landed on her desk.

"I want to say (it was in) the first hour," she recalls. "It was like, 'Hey, we have something we want you to focus on.' "

That task: brokering peace with Samsung, the giant South Korean electronics maker.

The two companies, off and on partners for three decades, weren't on speaking terms.

Microsoft's purchase of Nokia's handset business earlier that year had put the companies into competition in the smartphone-manufacturing business. Dueling patent lawsuits followed.

Talks to resolve the issues broke down, and the dispute was about to get messy, with a trial scheduled to start in federal court in Manhattan.

Johnson [pictured above], who had dealt with Samsung extensively during her 24 years at smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm, reached out.

A few months later, the companies announced a surprise end to the litigation, and promised new joint business ventures. They didn't say if any cash changed hands to end the dispute, and Johnson didn't have anything to add to that in an interview.

"I am a fan of trying to understand areas of (cooperation), rather than focusing on challenges," she said. "When you dig in, two big titans clashing, what good is that? It's not good for either of us, it's not good for the industry."

Microsoft's once-notorious reputation as a company that's hard to play with has undergone a transformation.

The rise of smartphone and web-based computing has pushed Microsoft from its perch atop the technology world, forcing the company to find more creative ways to exert its influence on rivals and potential partners. A company that used to offer all-or-nothing options during its Windows heyday is trying to remain relevant to a new generation, in part by better linking its software to tools built by...

Comments are closed.