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Activist Investor Joins Microsoft Board

With Microsoft's CEO transition out of the way, the firm's board of directors this week announced a new member: As expected, ValueAct Capital President and activist investor G. Mason Morfit is now Microsoft's newest and eleventh board member.

"We've had the opportunity to work with Mason over the past six months, and we look forward to working with him more closely as a member of the board," Microsoft Chairman John Thompson said in a statement. "Mason brings valuable insights given his financial background, his extensive experience as a public-company director, and his perspective as a significant Microsoft shareholder."

Microsoft surprisingly and suddenly announced that it would allow Mr. Morfit to join its board last September in the wake of Steve Ballmer's decision to step down as CEO. Morfit had been buying up Microsoft stock throughout 2013 and expressed interest in driving some change at the company. Microsoft's stock price, as you might know, has sat moribund for over a decade while high-flying competitors such as Apple and Google have delivered billions in value to their own stockholders.

At the time of Microsoft's surrender to Morfit, the firm said he would join the board in 2014, and the assumption was that it could forestall his influence until after it had selected a new CEO. With that out of the way, Morfit is onboard (ahem).

"Microsoft is an iconic global company with tremendous long-term potential," Mr. Morfit said in his own prepared statement. "I am honored to be joining the board, and I look forward to working with Satya Nadella, Chairman John Thompson, and the rest of the board of directors to help continue to drive growth and value for all shareholders."

Bloomberg reported previously that Morfit's specific goals for Microsoft include focusing on Windows and deemphasizing newer, money-losing ventures such as its hardware and consumer efforts like Surface and Xbox. But some analysts believe that he might simply try to ensure that the firm's long-term strategy matches the expectations of major shareholders.

Microsoft now has 11 board members, up from 10 previously: former CEO Steven Ballmer, Dina Dublon, Microsoft Cofounder Bill Gates, Maria M. Klawe, Stephen J. Luczo, David F. Marquardt, Mason Morfit, CEO Satya Nadella, Charles H. Noski, Dr. Helmut Panke, and John W. Thompson, who serves as chairman of the board.

Related: "Microsoft Grants Activist Investor a Seat on Its Board"

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