updated 07:43 pm EDT, Thu July 19, 2012
Mark Penn now heading up strategic and special projects
Microsoft has brought on Mark Penn, former manager of Senator Hillary Clinton's ill-fated 2008 Democratic primary campaign, to head up strategic and special projects at the company. The pollster, who was the worldwide CEO of public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and CEO of polling firm Penn Schoen Berland, will now focus on consumer initiatives. Bloomberg carried news today of the appointment, which is likely aimed at ensuring that the Redmond-based software giant is able to maintain an attachment to the common consumer mindset as it prepares to launch a number of important software and hardware products.
In addition to running Sen. Clinton's 2008 campaign, Penn served as chief advisor to President Bill Clinton during the 1996 presidential election and to Hillary Clinton during her successful 2002 Senate campaign.
Microsoft did not detail Penn's exact duties going forward, but CEO Steve Ballmer did make note of Penn's background in research, demographics, marketing, and positioning, as well as Penn's "unique insights that drive success."
Penn, who claimed that technology and politics had been his two passions since childhood, said a primary goal was to improve the position of Bing, Microsoft's search engine, which currently accounts for 25.6 percent of US web searches.
Microsoft is preparing to launch the newest version of its Windows operating system, Windows 8, and an accompanying new version of its Windows Phone platform. The company is also making a first-time foray into manufacturing computers directly with its Surface tablets, set to debut later this year.
These products will all launch at a precarious moment for the Redmond company. Microsoft finds itself trailing Apple and Google in the smartphone and tablet sector, a fact that the aforementioned products are meant to address. Penn's job will likely be to find ways gauging consumer interest and positioning Microsoft's products and marketing accordingly. [via Daring Fireball]