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Enterprise I.T.

Why Microsoft's New CEO Satya Nadella Is Smart Bet

Why Microsoft
February 4, 2014 10:10AM

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Given how well Microsoft's server division has done and Satya Nadella's cloud responsibilities, clearly the Microsoft board feels Nadella is the best choice to succeed Steve Ballmer as CEO. So that rewards good work. The board wants to expand on success and tapping Satya Nadella as CEO will better assure that success than any other path.

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After a highly-anticipated executive search, Microsoft has picked insider Satya Nadella as CEO. He becomes the software giant’s third-ever CEO.

Microsoft also announced that company co-founder Bill Gates, previously Chairman of the Board of Directors, will assume a new role on the board as "Founder and Technology Advisor," and will devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction. John Thompson will assume the role of chairman as well as continue in his current role as lead independent director for the board.

Nadella, who previously served as the senior vice president of Research and Development for Microsoft’s Online Services Division, said he is both honored and humbled to succeed Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer as the third CEO of Microsoft. The India native joined Microsoft 22 year ago, the company said, because he saw how clearly it empowers people to do magical things and ultimately make the world a better place.

“Our industry does not respect tradition -- it only respects innovation,” Nadella said. “The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must move faster, focus and continue to transform. I see a big part of my job as accelerating our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly.”

Changing the World

Nadella started his career as a member of the technology staff at Sun Microsystems. In 1992, he joined Microsoft. He was on his way to getting a master’s degree in business when the Microsoft job offer came. The company was building an operating system that ultimately would be known as Windows NT, and needed team members who understood UNIX and 32-bit operating systems, he said. Nadella wanted to complete his master’s degree and take the Microsoft job. He did both.

Nadella came to Microsoft, he told employees in an e-mail, “for the same reason I think most people join Microsoft -- to change the world through technology that empowers people to do amazing things. Many companies aspire to change the world. But very few have all the elements required: talent, resources and perseverance. Microsoft has proven that it has all three in abundance.”

We caught up with Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group, to get his take on the Nadella pick. Nadella was one of two people he was predicting would be the next to sit in Microsoft’s CEO seat. The other was Qui Lu, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group. (continued...)

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