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SPA board seat eludes Microsoft

Microsoft fails to land a board seat on one of the software industry's most influential trade groups, but it says it isn't giving up yet.

Microsoft has failed to land a board seat on one of the software industry's most influential trade groups, but it says it isn't giving up yet.

Facing a mounting lobbying offensive by the Software Publishers Association, Microsoft president and chief operating officer Bob Herbold ran for one of six open slots. The Washington group announced today that Herbold was not among the winners.

Despite the defeat, the software giant vowed to press on.

"Microsoft wants to share its perspective on a wide range of issues and believes we can help SPA as we move ahead," said spokesman Jim Cullinan. Although it would be easier for Microsoft simply to walk away from the SPA, "we're trying to remain engaged and share our perspective on a number of issues." he added.

SPA president Ken Wasch declined to break out specifics on the election, such as the number of votes each candidate received.

In recent months, the SPA has taken positions that increasingly are adversarial to Microsoft. Most recently, it joined forces with a number of other groups in hiring former Kansas senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole as well as former appellate judge Robert Bork to call for a new antitrust lawsuit to be filed against the company. The SPA also has lobbied regulators and lawmakers to take action against a number of Microsoft activities alleged to be anticompetitive.

Along with IBM, Microsoft is the SPA's biggest dues-payer, shelling out $100,000 per year to be a member, according to the software group.

Reelected to the board were Kathy Hurley, vice president of The Learning Company; and Cheryl Vedoe, president and chief executive of Tenth Planet Explorations. Elected to the board for the first time were Ron Verni, president of Peachtree Software; Ted Johnson, executive vice president of Visio; Larry Gross, senior vice president of Cendant Software; and Joel Ronning, president and CEO of Digital River.

SPA's board of directors consists of 15 seats, 12 of which are elected directly by the group's 1,200 members in staggered elections every two years. One seat is reserved for Wasch, and the board appoints the other two. Microsoft's Cullinan said the company is hoping the board will appoint Herbold to one of these two seats. The board will select the two remaining directors in mid-May.

If Herbold lands one of the seats, it wouldn't be the first time the board has chosen a Microsoft exec to fill such a position. Microsoft employees Steve Schiro and Pete Higgins both have been appointed to the board twice, while Jeff Raikes has been appointed once, Wasch said.

The other six board members are Roberta Katz, of Microsoft archrival Netscape Communications; Graham Beachum Jr., of Axtive Software; John Lain, with Wayfarer Communications; Rebecca Ranninger, of Symantec; Steve Solazzo, of IBM; and Mauro Ballabeni, of MicroBusiness Italiana.