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Ear to the Ground

Microsoft Puts Hillary Clinton’s Worst Strategist in Charge of Strategy

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Posted on Mar 4, 2014
Photo by Bill Rice (CC-BY)

Mark Penn, who ran Hillary Clinton’s 2008 coronation right into the ground, is now Microsoft’s chief strategy officer.

Penn, who was Clinton’s chief strategist in 2008, famously thought a big win in California would put his candidate over the top. Fortunately for unelectable rival Barack Obama, Penn didn’t realize that California, like many other states Clinton won, awarded delegates proportionally. As a result, Clinton, whose nomination was treated as inevitable, won only 204 of California’s 370 pledged delegates.

Following his epic fail in politics, Penn moved to the tech industry, where he came up with political style attack ads for Microsoft. The company’s “Scroogled” campaign is targeted at Google, but has performed no better than Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary.

Microsoft is still a highly profitable company, so much so that Bill Gates is once again the richest man in the world. But the tech giant is looking to reinvent itself with consumers, and newly minted CEO Satya Nadella is leading the charge. Nadella asked Gates to come back to Microsoft with a beefed up role in products. That’s probably a smart move. Less so, asking Penn to be his top strategist. Nadella said, “I am looking forward to applying Mark’s unique skill set across a broader set of challenges facing the company, from new product ideas to helping shape the overall areas of strategic investment.” Just make sure his secretary does the counting.

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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