Microsoft announced this morning the appointment of a new CEO – Satya Nadella. He has worked at the company for the last 22 years and since last week, the rumors have started that he was the one picked by the board after five months of search. Being from the same country of origin, it gives me immense pleasure to see Satya climb the ladder to the top of the 4th. largest corporation (in terms of market value) in the world, besides being the number one software company. I don’t know him, but based on what I read, he seems like a very talented and capable leader.
Mr. Nadella comes from Hyderabad, India where he went to the Hyderabad Public School (HPS), fellow senior schoolmates are Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe and Srikar Reddy, CEO of Sonata Software (where I am an advisor) and many other leaders. Then he attended Manipal Engineering College for his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He did his masters degree in computer science at the University of Wisconsin, followed by an MBA from the U. of Chicago. While working at Microsoft he completed his MBA degree, traveling back and forth between Redmond and Chicago. During his 22 years he went up rapidly managing various teams at Microsoft, from XBox to Bing search engine to finally lead the cloud and server division. He grew that division’s revenue from $17B to $21B in three years. Microsoft’s only growth business is the back-end infrastructure software business (Sharepoint, Azure Cloud, SQL Server, etc.). The consumer stuff (Windows 8, Office,..) are in decline as the computing industry shifts from PC-centric model to a cloud model of serving billions of smart client devices. Clearly Microsoft is behind in that game to competitors like Google, Apple, Samsung, etc.
More importantly, changing course at Microsoft has proven to be difficult. Ray Ozzie tried few years back, but failed. Working through the contentious groups has been quite hard. The board pins their hope on Satya Nadella to address this issue as he steers the company on the new course of cloud computing, big data, and myriads of smart devices. He clearly recognizes the deficiencies and wants to bring an entrepreneurial culture back to Microsoft. It has talent and lots of money to spend.
We wish Mr. Nadella success in his new role.