They took their time, but finally Microsoft’s search for a new CEO is over. 46-year-old Satya Nadella has been appointed as Steve Ballmer’s replacement with immediate effect. He will become Microsoft’s third CEO in its 39 year history. It is also easy to forget with the rise of Google and Apple’s continued domination of the mobile space that Microsoft are still one of the big players in the technology sphere and this appointment is crucial to the future of the company.
Nadella had been part of an illustrious list of candidates, including Ford CEO Alan Mulally, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and other highly respected Microsoft employees. However, it appears Nadella was the preferred candidate having joined the company over 20 years ago and working for Microsoft’s online services division, on their Bing search engine and being instrumental in transforming Microsoft’s cloud business whilst leading its Server and Tools division.
Nadella was born in India in 1969 and studied Electrical Engineering at the Mangalore University before moving to the US to study computer science at the University of Wisconsin. He originally worked at Microsoft rival Sun Microsystems before heading to Redmond. Nadella gained a reputation within Microsoft for his extensive understanding and knowledge of computing and engineering and is respected as an intelligent and charismatic leader. Despite this, some commentators view Nadella as a safe appointment, unlikely to rock the boat (by breaking away the Xbox division or selling Bing for example) while focusing much of his attention on the company’s already successful enterprise services offerings. The consumer sector is untested water for the new CEO and it will be interesting to see whether he will be able to deliver the promise of a transformation into a devices and services company mooted by his predecessor.
The transition may be eased somewhat by the new role of Bill Gates who also today relinquished his position as chairman of the company to become a Technology Advisor. This role will see the founder of Microsoft much more involved in the day to day running of the company and he will undoubtedly help with the some of the consumer facing tasks as well as the direction of Microsoft products. Commentating on today’s appointment, Bill Gates stated the following:
During this time of transformation, there is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella, Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision and the ability to bring people together. His vision for how technology will be used and experienced around the world is exactly what Microsoft needs as the company enters its next chapter of expanded product innovation and growth.
Nadella himself had the following to add;
Microsoft is one of those rare companies to have truly revolutionized the world through technology, and I couldn’t be more honored to have been chosen to lead the company. The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform. A big part of my job is to accelerate our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly.
Nadella will not have an easy job ahead of him. With the decline of PC sales and stiff competition in the mobile space, he faces an uphill struggle to not only change consumer perception but drive the next wave of innovation in software. One thing is for sure, the hard work starts now.