Google, Microsoft agree not to fight proxy regulatory battles against one another

Agreement reflects "cordial" relationship between two companies' CEOs.

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Last week, Microsoft and Google decided to play nice. The two companies agreed to stop filing complaints about one another with regulators around the world. According to the The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), this was prompted by the two CEOs, Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai, whose relationship is characterized as “cordial.”

The regulatory truce comes on the heels of a patent settlement between the companies last year.

The shift in attitude is directly traceable to the leadership change at Microsoft. In early 2014, the more restrained Nadella replaced the more combative and irascible Steve Ballmer. Prior to Nadella’s ascension to the CEO role, Redmond had lobbied aggressively in Europe and elsewhere against Google as a search monopoly.

Microsoft was a funding and founding member of anti-Google “watchdog” or lobbying group FairSearch, which had been at the forefront of antitrust complaints and claims against Mountain View. FairSearch was instrumental in defeating the tentative “rival links” antitrust settlement proposal that had been worked out between then European Commission chief Joaquín Almunia and Google.

Several months ago, Microsoft pulled funding from FairSearch and left the group. The WSJ quotes a FairSearch member saying that Microsoft’s departure and funding withdrawal has effectively killed the organization. However, its online presence suggests the group remains active. Google rival Oracle is still cited as one of a number of members.

The WSJ also reported that “Microsoft left the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, or Icomp,” another EU-based anti-Google lobbying organization. On its website, Icomp reports that ICOMP it has “51 signatory companies from 18 countries around the world.”

Google currently faces two active antitrust cases in Europe: one about its dominance of “shopping search” and another, just announced, asserting that OEM contracts requiring Google app pre-installation as a condition of accessing Google Play violate European competition rules.

The height of public Microsoft anti-Google vitriol was the “Scroogled” campaign. It sought to portray Google as harvesting consumer data without consent, among other things. The campaign was dreamed up by political operative Mark Penn. Penn left Microsoft not long after Nadella became CEO.

Mostly ineffective, Scroogled concluded in 2014, and the site now redirects to WhyMicrosoft. For old times’ sake, here’s one of the more infamous Scroogled TV spots:

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Greg Sterling
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.

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