After five-month search, on Tuesday Microsoft announced that Satya Nadella will replace Steve Ballmer, who is said to leace the company within 12 months. Nadella will become only the third leader in the software giant’s 38-year history, after Gates and Ballmer.
Bill Gates is stepping down as chairman of Microsoft’s board, and taking on the role of technology advisor. Now the news chairman will be former board member John Thompson.
“During this time of transformation, there is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella,” said Bill Gates in a statement. “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.”
The 46-year-old Nadella is the executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise group, a fast-growing and lucrative division of the company. He’s been a Microsoft employee for over 20 years and has worked as a VP in the company’s business and online services divisions.
Mr. Nadella grew up in Hyderabad, India and his appointment as CEO makes him the most powerful Indian-born tech executive in the world. He received a Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics and communication from the Manipal University in 1988.
Following his move to the United States, he went on to study Computer Science at Masters level at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Mr. Nadella began his extensive career in tech at internet software pioneer Sun Microsystems, before joining Microsoft in 1992, reports The Telegraph.
In his own email to Microsoft employees, Nadella reflects on his time at the company and talks about how he asked Gates to come back and spend more time at the company. He points out the importance of innovation to Microsoft, and puts forward both mobile and cloud as key priorities for Redmond going forward.
“I believe over the next decade computing will become even more ubiquitous and intelligence will become ambient. The coevolution of software and new hardware form factors will intermediate and digitize — many of the things we do and experience in business, life and our world. This will be made possible by an ever-growing network of connected devices, incredible computing capacity from the cloud, insights from big data, and intelligence from machine learning.”
Analysts hope that Nadella can maintain the company’s momentum in the rapidly expanding field of cloud computing while minimizing the negative impact from Microsoft’s unprofitable forays into consumer hardware. Major rivals in cloud computing include Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Salesforce.com Inc. and IBM Corp.
“He is the right person to drive safe, right down the middle of the fairway, and continue Microsoft’s strengths,” said Rajeev Chand, managing director and head of research at tech investment bank Rutberg & Co. “What we don’t know is will Nadella help with the consumer revival, or with the mobile revival. Mobile is an open hole in his background.”