A lot of hay has been made in California over the course of the past several months about Carly Fiorina’s leadership at HP; a quick Google search turns up article after article about the California Senate race that mention, usually in unflattering terms, the company’s fortunes – or lack thereof – during her tenure as CEO.
Contrast this with the treatment Suzan DelBene (D) is receiving in her WA-08 campaign against Dave Reichert. From DelBene’s Microsoft bio:
Suzan DelBene, corporate vice president of the Mobile Communications Business at Microsoft Corp., oversees all marketing efforts for the division, including for Windows Mobile software for Pocket PCs, Smartphones and Portable Media Centers, and the Windows CE operating system. Snip… DelBene, who returned to Microsoft in February 2004 after having served at the company from 1989 to 1998, brings a deep set of product management, marketing and business development skills to Microsoft’s wireless industry efforts.
Her own campaign bio proudly makes note of her time at Microsoft*.
One of just a handful of women serving in a senior leadership position at the company, she ran worldwide sales, marketing, and product management for the company’s mobile technology efforts.
You don’t have to be a technology geek to be aware that Microsoft isn’t exactly a giant in the world of mobile communications. A recent Seattle Times article notes:
Five years ago, the company’s PC-think appeared to slow its momentum in the mobile world. It seemed unable to turn on a dime when the iPhone came out, it may have underestimated the consumer market and it made a few bets that just went wrong.
The “five years ago” mentioned in the article would be about a year into DelBene’s stint as VP of Mobile Communications at Microsoft. She was still at the helm in 2007, a “watershed” year.
The watershed year was 2007. Microsoft made some incremental updates and called it Windows Mobile 6.0. A few months later, Apple unveiled the iPhone.
In the fall, Google announced Android, a free mobile operating system. Developers flocked to both platforms to build programs for their respective app stores. Microsoft, which has historically had the strongest developer support among the tech powerhouses, had no app store until 2009.
“It was a story of a missed opportunity,” said Matt Rosoff, a former analyst at independent research firm Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland who’s now with the Silicon Alley Insider news site.
Nowhere is DelBene’s involvement with the Windows Mobile product mentioned, which might be understandable, given that this is a business story, but an ostensible news article published in the Times on September 26th that specifically discusses her Microsoft experience and how her campaign is using that experience to persuade voters also fails to mention it. In fact, the story reads as though it were lifted intact from a DelBene press release. Given the Times’ endorsement of DelBene, I find their failure to qualify her Microsoft experience to be disturbing.
Side note and slightly off topic:
It’s also worth knowing that prior to Microsoft, DelBene was CEO at Nimble Technologies (and isn’t it ironic that DelBene was CEO of a company called Nimble, when her leadership at Microsoft appeared to be anything but). Her time there doesn’t appear to have been a rousing success, either. Started in 1999 with $30 million in venture capital, it was sold in 2003 for less than $10 million.
DelBene is claiming that her “real-world leadership experience” and “ability to solve problems, create opportunities, and get things done” qualify her to replace Dave Reichert as the 8th District’s U.S. Representative, but I wonder if she has the kind of experience we need in Washington D.C.
*DelBene appears to be proud of the time she spent at Microsoft and Nimble Technologies, but not of her service on the Board of Trustees of Reed College.