Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

What business risks did Microsoft disclose about itself in 2013?

In my entry for EDGAR (SEC) Company Filings, I claim you can answer the question “What business risks did Microsoft disclose about itself in 2013?” Here’s how:


  1. Visit the site and type in Microsoft in the search box.
  3. In the “filter results” section, type in “10-k” in the “filing type” box. 10-K is the annual report form of the SEC
  4. From the annual report filed 2013-07-30, choose “documents.”
  5. Click on the link next to FORM 10-K.
  6. Scroll down to Table of Contents and choose Item 1A Risk Factors. This will bring up several pages of things Microsoft believes is a threat to their business, including:


Business model competition

Companies compete with us based on a growing variety of business models.


Under the license-based proprietary software model that generates most of our revenue, we bear the costs of converting original ideas into software products through investments in research and development, offsetting these costs with the revenue received from licensing our products. Many of our competitors also develop and sell software to businesses and consumers under this model and we expect this competition to continue.


Other competitors develop and offer free applications, online services and content, and make money by selling third-party advertising. Advertising revenue funds development of products and services these competitors provide to users at no or little cost, competing directly with our revenue-generating products.


Some companies compete with us using an open source business model by modifying and then distributing open source software at nominal cost to end-users and earning revenue on advertising or complementary services and products. These firms do not bear the full costs of research and development for the software. Some open source software vendors develop software that mimics the features and functionality of our products.

The competitive pressures described above may result in decreased sales volumes, price reductions, and/or increased operating costs, such as for marketing and sales incentives. This may lead to lower revenue, gross margins, and operating income.




Catastrophic events or geo-political conditions may disrupt our business.    A disruption or failure of our systems or operations because of a major earthquake, weather event, cyber-attack, terrorist attack, or other catastrophic event could cause delays in completing sales, providing services, or performing other mission-critical functions. Our corporate headquarters, a significant portion of our research and development activities, and certain other critical business operations are located in the Seattle, Washington area, and we have other business operations in the Silicon Valley area of California, both of which are near major earthquake faults. A catastrophic event that results in the destruction or disruption of any of our critical business or IT systems could harm our ability to conduct normal business operations. Our move toward providing our customers with more services and solutions in the cloud puts a premium on the resilience of our systems and strength of our business continuity management plans, and magnifies the potential impact of prolonged service outages on our operating results. Abrupt political change, terrorist activity, and armed conflict pose a risk of general economic disruption in affected countries, which may increase our operating costs. These conditions also may add uncertainty to the timing and budget for technology investment decisions by our customers, and may result in supply chain disruptions for hardware manufacturers, either of which may adversely affect our revenue. The long-term effects of climate change on the global economy in general or the IT industry in particular are unclear. Environmental regulations or changes in the supply, demand or available sources of energy may affect the availability or cost of goods and services, including natural resources, necessary to run our business. Changes in weather where we operate may increase the costs of powering and cooling computer hardware we use to develop software and provide cloud-based services.


I think you will find EDGAR of using in nearly any story involving large corporations. The annual reports have a number of seeds of writing ideas and will also give some idea of how to compensate your fictional CEOs.

EDGAR Company Filings is just one resource from the World of Business section of Writer’s Guide to Government Information.


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