Microsoft’s new CEO is Satya Nadella. He will replace Steve Ballmer immediately, becoming only the third ever CEO of Microsoft. As expected, Bill Gates is also stepping down as chairman and assuming the new title of Technology Advisor, which will “substantially increase” his time at the company. Nadella is a Microsoft veteran of 20 years, where he has mostly worked on enterprise-facing products (cloud, server, tools) – but as far as the industry and consumers are concerned he’s a relative nobody.
Nadella, 46, was born in India, where he played a lot of cricket (which he believes helped develop his leadership skills – see: 5 things you should know about Satya Nadella). He obtained a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in India, and then master’s degrees in computer science from the University of Wisconsin and business administration from the University of Chicago.
He started off at Sun Microsystems in the 1990s, and then moved to Microsoft in 1992 to help develop Windows NT. Since then, he’s worked within a number of Microsoft departments, mostly on the server and enterprise side of things. Before becoming CEO he was head of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group.
Given his background, Nadella is well suited to the services portion of Microsoft’s recent realignment towards “devices and services,” but he is definitely a bit lacking on the devices side of the equation. He will presumably be bolstered by Bill Gates’ glorious return to active duty (he will now be spending “a third of his time” in the office), and Stephen Elop, who is being re-consumed as part of the Nokia acquisition.
There are definitely some concerns about Nadella’s suitability as Microsoft’s CEO, including whether he’s a big enough hitter for a company of such considerable gravitas, but we’ll discuss that in a separate article at a later date.
Speaking personally, though, Nadella’s heart seems to be in the right place. In his first letter to Microsoft employees, Nadella says he is “defined by [his] curiosity and thirst for learning.” He says he joined Microsoft to “change the world through technology that empowers people to do amazing things.”
He believes that “over the next decade computing will become even more ubiquitous and intelligence will become ambient” – and that such ubiquity and intelligence will come from the growing power of cloud computing and connected devices.
He certainly talks the talk. Now let’s see if he walks the walk.
For more information about Satya Nadella, and some videos and words from Ballmer and Microsoft’s new chairman, hit up Microsoft’s new CEO website. There will be a webcast, officially announcing Nadella as CEO, at 15:00 EST today (20:00 this evening in the UK).