Internal memos offer, if not juicy gossip, telling insight into the character of an organization. Not so with the missive Microsoft lead negotiator Kevin Johnson sent around to explain his Facebook triumph. It's just more "win-win-win" blather that you'd expect from a salesman. Johnson tells coworkers the deal will demonstrate to advertisers that Microsoft is a winner and that for publishers "it is further evidence of Microsoft's commitment to long-term innovation." I'm sure the thousands of geeks in Microsoft's R&D labs are stewing over that line — not that they've come up with anything even vaguely as cool as Facebook. But whatever. We know the real reason Johnson sent the memo. To get this reply from Ballmer — the CEO's actual words: "Great job you really pulled this together unbelievably." Cha-ching!
Kevin Johnson, who runs Microsoft's Windows and Web businesses, is a master salesman. And making a sale, of course, requires a fine-tuned ability to bullshit on demand. Nowhere is that ability more on display than in Microsoft's announcement of a deal to buy AdECN, a supposedly neutral marketplace where advertisers and publishers can buy and sell online ads. AdECN is also a competitor to recent Yahoo acquisition Right Media and DoubleClick, which Google is trying to buy. Johnson claims Microsoft won't favor its own websites, or partners like Facebook or Digg. Of course, that's nonsense. How do I know that? AdECN told me so.