After a long search, Microsoft have confirmed that Satya Nadella – formerly the Executive Vice President of its Cloud and Enterprise division – as its CEO, succeeding Steve Ballmer. It also announced that its founder Bill Gates will devote more time to the company, leaving his post as Chairman of the Board to take up the role as “Founder and Technology Advisor”.
India-born Nadella, 46, joined Microsoft in 1992 after a short stint at Sun Microsystems. During his 22 years at Microsoft, he held roles in its Online Services and Business divisions. However, it would be his role as president of its Server and Tools division where he made his mark. That division outperformed the market and took market share from competitors, according to Microsoft.
He would also be instrumental, during his tenure as president of its Server and Tools division, in building Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure – which is the backbone for Windows Azure, and many of its cloud services like SkyDrive and Xbox Live.
“Today is a very humbling day for me. It reminds me of my very first day at Microsoft, 22 years ago,” Nadella said in an internal email to all employees. “It is an incredible honor for me to lead and serve this great company of ours. Steve and Bill have taken it from an idea to one of the greatest and most universally admired companies in the world.”
“Satya is a proven leader. 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,” former CEO Steve Ballmer said.
When Ballmer announced his retirement in late August last year, the frontrunner for the top job in Redmond was Ford CEO Alan Mulally. However, Mulally confirmed in January that he would not join the company. Other top contenders for the job included former Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop and Skype CEO Tony Bates.
Elop, however, is returning to Microsoft to be its Vice President of its Devices and Services division – which will be responsible for Xbox, Windows Phone and Surface tablets.
As Nadella moves into the CEO position, effective immediately, it was also announced by Microsoft was that Bill Gates will have a larger role in the company. He will become a “Technology Advisor” for the company, and will support Nadella in moving Microsoft’s future direction. Gates’ replacement as Chairman is John Thompson, the lead independent director in the Board.
“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. I’m also looking forward to working with John Thompson as our new Chairman of the Board,” Nadella said.
Ballmer and Gates will still be members of the board.