Microsoft - Corporate Affairs

Corporate Affairs

The company is run by a board of directors made up of mostly company outsiders, as is customary for publicly traded companies. Members of the board of directors as of June 2010 are: Steve Ballmer, Dina Dublon, Bill Gates (chairman), Raymond Gilmartin, Reed Hastings, Maria Klawe, David Marquardt, Charles Noski, and Helmut Panke. Board members are elected every year at the annual shareholders' meeting using a majority vote system. There are five committees within the board which oversee more specific matters. These committees include the Audit Committee, which handles accounting issues with the company including auditing and reporting; the Compensation Committee, which approves compensation for the CEO and other employees of the company; the Finance Committee, which handles financial matters such as proposing mergers and acquisitions; the Governance and Nominating Committee, which handles various corporate matters including nomination of the board; and the Antitrust Compliance Committee, which attempts to prevent company practices from violating antitrust laws.

When Microsoft went public and launched its initial public offering (IPO) in 1986, the opening stock price was $21; after the trading day, the price closed at $27.75. As of July 2010, with the company's nine stock splits, any IPO shares would be multiplied by 288; if one was to buy the IPO today given the splits and other factors, it would cost about 9 cents. The stock price peaked in 1999 at around $119 ($60.928 adjusting for splits). The company began to offer a dividend on January 16, 2003, starting at eight cents per share for the fiscal year followed by a dividend of sixteen cents per share the subsequent year, switching from yearly to quarterly dividends in 2005 with eight cents a share per quarter and a special one-time payout of three dollars per share for the second quarter of the fiscal year. Though the company had subsequent increases in dividend payouts, the price of Microsoft's stock remained steady for years.

One of Microsoft's business tactics, described by an executive as "embrace, extend and extinguish," initially embraces a competing standard or product, then extends it to produce their own version which is then incompatible with the standard, which in time extinguishes competition that does not or cannot use Microsoft's new version. Various companies and governments sue Microsoft over this set of tactics, resulting in billions of dollars in rulings against the company. Microsoft claims that the original strategy is not anti-competitive, but rather an exercise of its discretion to implement features it believes customers want.

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