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To Rebuild Trust, Facebook’s Zuckerberg Looked to Microsoft

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants advice, he occasionally turns to a kindred figure: Bill Gates, the billionaire Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist. Recently, Mr. Gates suggested to Mr. Zuckerberg that Facebook consider hiring someone with a profile like that of Brad Smith, the president and chief legal officer at Microsoft, a lawyer who has become an influential ambassador to regulators and lawmakers around the world, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

What hasn’t been reported is that Mr. Zuckerberg spoke directly to Mr. Smith too. While the conversation didn’t involve a formal job offer, Mr. Smith still felt compelled to let Mr. Zuckerberg know he was happy at Microsoft and had no desire to leave, a person familiar with the talks said. 

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'I question whether a Brad Smith would make a difference at Facebook,' said Ed Lazowska, a computer science professor at the University of Washington.