updated 10:00 pm EST, Wed February 29, 2012
Microsoft gets antitrust attorney as own staffer
Microsoft on Wednesday hoped to turn Google's FTC troubles against it by hiring one of the FTC's senior lawyers, Randall Long, on Wednesday. The former deputy assistant lead for the Competition Bureau will manage Microsoft's regulatory relations. He will take the new position in late March and should be based out of Washington, DC.
Long had looked into Google's acquisitions both of AdMob and of DoubleClick. He may have a deeper understanding of Google's internal workings and how the government interprets Google's actions, both of which would be key. The executive was one to start the challenges and may also lean towards Microsoft's position.
It's believed the new hire would be used to try and use government oversight groups as weapons against Google. Both the FTC and the EU have been investigating Google over concerns that it was abusing its dominant position in web search to squeeze out competitors' services, both on the desktop and mobile. Microsoft's Bing and Windows Phone have only had limited success at best in impacting Google, and a formal complaint in the EU or US could force policy changes that would give Bing and Windows Phone more of an opportunity to carve into Google's share.
Whether or not the hiring stays isn't certain. Internal FTC rules ban attorneys from going to private companies they were primary investigators for and thus had secret access. Long may not have had special access to Google, but even his attachment to the earlier plans might call his new position into jeopardy.
Oficials confirmed the plans, but not the motivations behind the new hire. [via Wall Street Journal]