As widely expected after last week’s rumors, Satya Nadella has been named the new CEO of Microsoft.
Nadella is Microsoft’s third CEO, after co-founder Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. He’s been with the company for more than twenty years, eventually becoming executive vice president of its Cloud and Enterprise division; Nadella and his team were responsible for the creation of “Cloud OS,” the platform that powers Microsoft’s large-scale cloud services such as SkyDrive, Azure, and Office 365. Under his guidance, Microsoft’s revenue from cloud services has grown by several billion dollars over the past few years.
“Satya is a proven leader,” Ballmer wrote in a Feb. 4 email to employees. “He’s got strong technical skills and great business insights. He has a remarkable ability to see what’s going on in the market, to sense opportunity, and to really understand how we come together at Microsoft to execute against those opportunities in a collaborative way.”
In his own email to employees, Nadella said that he was “humbled” by his appointment, and that he had asked Bill Gates to act as a close advisor in the months and years ahead. “I’ve been fortunate to work closely with both Bill and Steve in my different roles at Microsoft, and as I step in as CEO, I’ve asked Bill to devote additional time to the company, focused on technology and products,” he wrote. “I’m also looking forward to working with John Thompson as our new Chairman of the Board.”
He devoted the rest of the email to explaining his philosophy of technology, and how that will ultimately influence his leadership. “The opportunity ahead will require us to reimagine a lot of what we have done in the past for a mobile and cloud-first world, and do new things,” he added. “We are the only ones who can harness the power of software and deliver it through devices and services that truly empower every individual and every organization.”
A lot of tech companies would disagree with the declaration that Microsoft is the “only” company capable of merging hardware and software into forms that businesses and consumers find appealing, but Nadella must do his best to reassert his company’s position as a technology leader. Nadella indicated near the end of his email that he would follow through on the “One Microsoft” strategy formulated under Ballmer, which includes a massive reorganization currently underway.
“We have picked a set of high-value activities as part of our One Microsoft strategy,” he concluded. “And with every service and device launch going forward we need to bring more innovation to bear around these scenarios.”
Microsoft faces several challenges in the years ahead, including the need to reassert itself in a consumer market dominated by Apple and Google. Is Nadella up to the task?