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Microsoft executive Brad Smith: ‘If you create tech that changes the world, the world is going to want to govern you.’

He also had some other advice for Facebook.

Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Microsoft’s Brad Smith has some lessons for Facebook.

“If you create tech that changes the world, the world is going to want to govern you. It’s going to want to regulate you,” Smith, the president of Microsoft and a 25-year veteran of the company, said onstage at Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

He was discussing what he learned from Microsoft’s antitrust case — which the company lost in 2001 — but his words are relevant to Facebook, which some lawmakers and many Americans believe should be regulated.

“I think that one of the things that Zuckerberg did well is that he understands that regulation may be in order,” Smith said of Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony.

Here are a few other ideas he proffered for Facebook:

  • “We all take our turns. It’s easy to say my business model is different than your business model,” he said. “At the end of the day, a tech company to the general public is just a tech company.”
  • “No one should ever assume that somehow we have it all worked out and are never going to have difficult days. Facebook is working through a challenging situation and the rest of us need to work through our situations.”
  • “There comes a moment in time when you’re not a startup anymore. And you have to recognize when that moment comes, and you have to be prepared to shift, you have to mature, you have to listen, you have to build relationships and you have to compromise.”
  • Smith said the antitrust case against Microsoft was a distraction that may have kept the company from other innovation. “We missed search,” he said. Facebook’s data scandal could prove a distraction for it as well.

Smith, who has worked at Microsoft since 1993 and took on the role of president and chief legal officer in 2015, also had insights into a wide range of issues facing tech:

  • Smith said that in every meeting with the White House he has brought up immigration reform, particularly DACA, which he sees as necessary to the tech workforce.
  • He called diversity an imperative in the world today. “We work around the world. The notion of having a West Coast all-male orientation of how we innovate is actually a huge problem from the perspective of trying to be successful.”
  • “Never take the percentage of women in your profession as the ceiling,” Smith said, referring to the lack of women in the tech industry.

Watch the full interview:

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