I'm going to get a cup of coffee while you read this.
"Microsoft is at the center of a group of companies who see Google as a threat to them in some combination of business and policy," said a source familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity to avoid retribution. "The effort is designed make Google look like the big high-tech bad guy here."
The meetings have occurred as frequently as once a week, sources with knowledge of the meetings say.
Microsoft employs several D.C.-based public relations firms, including Law Media Group, a secretive outfit founded by former Democratic operative Julian Epstein, and the Glover Park Group, which the software giant retains for issues related to "public policy and governmental affairs," according to Microsoft's website. LMG declined to discuss its work for Microsoft; GPG says it had never been involved with any 'screw Google' meetings.
Nevertheless, one source familiar with the meetings says, "Law Media Group has several people who work full-time on Google-bashing. Everybody knows Microsoft is trying to throw roadblocks at Google and knock them off their game. Microsoft is trying to harm Google in the regulatory, legal, and litigation arenas because they're having problems with Google in the competitive marketplace."
"This is textbook Microsoft," the source adds. 'Microsoft has got some of the best, highest-priced lobbyists that money can buy in Washington."
The meetings have been led by Fred Humphries, Microsoft's chief lobbyist in D.C. Ginny Terzano, Microsoft's Washington spokesperson, acknowledged that Google has come up in Microsoft meetings with "lawmakers, regulators, and our own consultants." But of Humphries's alleged "screw Google" meetings, she says, "This is absurd. While Google is a healthy competitor, Fred is focused on advancing policies that benefit our partners and consumers, and not running meetings of the type you describe. Your sources are badly misinformed, and your information is wrong."
"As you would expect, Microsoft and Fred are working to educate policymakers and regulators about the benefits of the Microsoft/Yahoo deal," Terzano says. "When you talk about the Microsoft/Yahoo deal, of course Google is going to come up."
A source with knowledge of the matter called Terzano's statement a "non-denial denial," saying, "This is an attempt to obfuscate the fact that they are indeed having 'screw Google' meetings."
Microsoft's secret 'screw Google' meetings in D.C. -- DailyFinance
So, let me summarize that for you:
- Some anonymous guy told me "Microsoft has 'Screw Google' meetings"
- Actual Microsoft person, with a name and everything, says on the record they don't
- Same nameless guy says "That's exactly what someone holding 'Screw Google' meetings would say; it's proof!"
Consider me a source familiar with how Microsoft competes with Google. Working for Microsoft Health Solutions, I go head-to-head with Google Health. Working in the policy space, I find myself in DC a fair amount, too. I don't waste my time thinking about how to screw Google (or Dossia, or WebMD, or anyone else).