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Bill Neukom, A Giant Among Giants

Publication Date: 
March 27, 2011
San Jose Mercury News
Bruce Newman

Professor Mark Lemley is quoted in the San Jose Mercury News on his perspective of San Francisco Giants owner Bill Neukom’s former legal counsel experience at Microsoft. Bruce Newman reports:

Two days after he became managing general partner of the Giants, Bill Neukom left his San Francisco hotel in search of the perfect latte. He needed something strong enough to help him reanimate a team that had just finished the 2008 season 72-90, next-to-last in the National League West.

Neukom has favored bow ties since he attended San Mateo High School, and at 69, he has a pile of white hair that rises above his head like freshly steamed foam -- making him easily recognizable. But on that October morning, he passed through the crowded streets unnoticed, a virtual unknown in the city whose baseball fortunes he would now guide.


Neukom remains a fierce Microsoft partisan, even now, but his views on the conduct of the trials are not widely shared in Silicon Valley. The professor who currently holds the William H. Neukom chair at Stanford Law School, Mark A. Lemley, says he suspects Neukom was blindsided by a shift in public attitudes toward the company.

"He took a very hard-line position in the litigation, one that the courts ultimately rejected," says Lemley, who served as a Justice Department consultant on the case, "and one that in retrospect was probably unwise. But I think he did it as a true believer that Microsoft was simply innovating and therefore wasn't doing anything wrong."