Brad Smith: Microsoft Mexico 25th Anniversary

BRAD SMITH: Well, thank you, honored guests, Mr. President.

I have a confession to make. The last time I was here in our office in Mexico City there was a little bit of confusion. I came to speak in the morning, and I was happy to see that the room was full. Every seat was taken, there were people standing around the walls. Only later that day did I learn that a little mistake had been made. The e-mail that had gone out to our employees had said not that the speaker was going to be me, Brad Smith, but rather that the speaker was going to be the actor, Brad Pitt. (Laughter.) I have never seen so many disappointed people. (Laughter.)

But I can tell you today is a special day, because as we walk through our offices, Mr. President, no one was disappointed when they had the opportunity to see you. Thank you for joining us here.

It’s also a special day because as Jean-Philippe Courtois said, this is a special anniversary. It was 25 years ago that we opened the first door to the first office, so the first employee could come to work in the morning at Microsoft in Mexico.

Twenty-five years ago, we were focused as a company on a mission that had been defined by Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, and had been put in very simple terms, to create a world in which there would be a computer on every desk and in every home. And when we opened the door here in Mexico, it gave us the opportunity to work here to realize that dream, too.

We still have a ways to go after a quarter of a century, but we’ve made a lot of progress. There are now 22 million personal computers here in Mexico.

And certainly one of the things that we have learned is that it takes a lot of people to make that kind of progress. It takes not only the 600 people who work here at Microsoft in Mexico, it takes the 300,000 people who work at our 30,000 business partners.

Microsoft has benefitted from being here in Mexico. Mexico has been very good to us. And we strive every day, we hope, to be good for Mexico in return.

As Jean-Philippe described, we focus not only on growing our business but on growing other businesses with us, and hence with these new investments we hope to help create 1,000 new companies in the IT sector between now and the end of 2012.

And in many ways even more important than creating new businesses is giving opportunities to a new generation of students.

In recent years we’ve provided software and training to 1.1 million students across the country, and with the investment that Jean-Philippe announced today we’ll spend $660 million, but more important than that, we hope by the end of next year to reach another 440,000 students.

And we recognize that while PCs are becoming more affordable, they are not yet within everyone’s grasp, and it has therefore been so important for us to partner with NGOs across the country.

We partner with 60 NGOs today, and this morning we had the opportunity and the privilege to announce new grants with the two NGOs with whom we have worked the closest, Fundamex, which has helped put 148 community technology centers in 28 states across the country; and POETA, which has been a leader here in Mexico in providing access and training for the disabled so they too can benefit from computing technology, and in the course of this has been a leader not only in Mexico but has spread across Latin America.

For us today is a day to look back, but even more important it is a day to look forward. It is a day to think about what we can accomplish in the next 25 years.

A quarter of a century from now, people will gather and they will say that there is a computer in every home and there is a computer on every desk, and more than that, there is a computer in every pocket, it’s called the phone, and there will be computers on many walls because televisions will be connected to the Internet, and there will be computers that are the screens at the front of classrooms, and there will be computers on the walls of conference rooms that will change the way people can connect with each other, whether they are in families or in business working together.

More than anything else, we can look back and we can say 25 years ago we started with one person; look at the foundation we have today.

Given this foundation, we have every reason to look at our partnership with the government, to look at our commitment to the people of this country, and to say, let’s look at what we can achieve together; we are just getting started.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)