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One Microsoft way
Thanks to Sriram Subramanian for submitting this photo.

We received the photo above from a curious reader this morning, showing a new “Senanayake Way” street sign on the famed Microsoft Way, the street that runs through the Redmond campus and gives the company its “One Microsoft Way” address.

microsoftwayWe had no idea what to think. Was it vandalism? A fake photo? Some sort of political protest? Or an official name change?

So we dug into it, and it turns out it’s actually a case of creative philanthropy.

Microsoft reps explain that naming rights for a portion of the iconic street were up for grabs in Microsoft’s 2012 Giving Campaign, the company’s annual charity drive.

The winner, Microsoft employee Damit Senanayake, bid $1,573 for the naming rights, figuring that it’s not often that someone has an opportunity to be such a visible part of the Microsoft campus. Microsoft matched his contribution and the funds went to United Way.

Officially you can still send your cards and letters to One Microsoft Way, but Senanayake’s name will be up on a portion of the street for an entire calendar year.

More than 1,000 items were in the auction last year, raising $800,000 — part of an overall 2012 campaign that raised $105 million for charity. Microsoft announced last year that it had raised $1 billion since 1983 for nonprofits and community organizations around the world through the annual philanthropic campaign.

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