New Microsoft CEO is Satya Nadella, Gates steps down as Chairman

05 February 2014

Microsoft has announced Satya Nadella as its new CEO with both Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer releasing official videos welcoming the new Chief and expressing their excitement at the news. On the same day Bill Gates stepped down as the Chairman of the Board. His new official position within the company is Founder and Technology Advisor. Gates will reportedly make a third of his time available to working for Microsoft, which is far greater than his previous one day a week as Chairman.

A bit about Satya Nadella

Nadella is a long-time Microsoft employee, having worked for the company for 22 years, starting in 1992. Unlike Ballmer, whose job prior to signing on the MSFT was as an assistant product manager at Procter & Gamble, Nadella is an engineer.

With a bachelors in Electrical Engineering from Manipul University and a masters in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin on top of another masters in Business Administration from Chicago University, Satya Nadella comes from a very different educational background than Microsoft’s out-going CEO.

The word ‘technologist’ is thrown around a lot these days to describe people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak, but it was never or rarely used to describe Steve Ballmer. Happily for Microsoft it could easily apply to Nadella.

That being said, Satya Nadella is hardly a household name yet. He’s spent much of his professional life at Microsoft out of the limelight. He hasn’t been heavily involved with the consumer side of the business, focusing more on the heavy-earning parts of Microsoft that don’t really attract public attention.

This isn’t to say that he hasn’t been successful within the company. He’s been promoted numerous times with his last position being President of the Server & Tools during which he increased the profits of that division from $16.6 billion to $20.3 billion between 2011 and 2013. His base salary for 2013 verged on $6.7 million, a figure which doesn’t include a further $900k in stock bonuses.

So he’s an important name within Microsoft and with any luck he’ll soon be one in the greater tech community as well.

A Mobile and Cloud focus for Microsoft?

So far Nadella’s big plan for Microsoft is unspecified, but he did say “our job is to ensure that Microsoft thrives in a mobile and cloud-first world” during his first official interview. Bill Gates, too, got very excited about “building a new platform, a cloud platform, that connects to all sorts of different devices” during his Nadella welcoming video.

This is exactly what Microsoft needs. We’ve seen the company already make sweeping statements about a new Microsoft based on cloud and mobile solutions, but in reality the implementation has been tentative at best.

Windows 8 may work ok on tablets, but on PCs it was a disaster. It was clunky, unfamiliar, and half of the changes seemed pointless and slap-shod at best. Win8.1 fixed things a little, but it still isn’t the OS that we’d been promised with full Windows Phone 8 and Xbox OS integration.

Focusing on providing a true “cloud platform, that connects to all sorts of different devices” is precisely what Microsoft can and should do. Hopefully Nadella’s acknowledgement that we live in “a mobile and cloud-first world” and Gates’ excitement about a new cloud platform are indications of what comes next for Microsoft.

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