Microsoft Names Satya Nadella Its New CEO

Microsoft has made official what we all pretty much expected: Its new CEO, replacing Steve Ballmer, is Satya Nadella. Nadella has spent 22 years at Microsoft, and was previously Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Cloud and Enterprise. Nadella also takes a position on Microsoft’s Board of Directors, and founder Bill Gates will increase his involvement in the company.

Nadella is credited as a key leader in moving the company towards cloud services, around products including Bing, Xbox and Microsoft Office. His time at MS oversaw a period of huge growth for Microsoft Business Services, too, growing that segment of the business from a $1.5 billion slice of pie to a $5 billion segment in just five years’ time.

In an email to Microsoft employees published by the company, Steve Ballmer announced the news and said he was “pumped about the future of Microsoft” (typical Ballmer, we’ll miss you big guy). He praises Nadella’s technical and business skills, and gets surface-level emotional about Microsoft’s big, bold moves.

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. Here’s an excerpt about what he sees in terms of where we’re headed with computing.

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.

Microsoft, according to Nadella, is uniquely positioned to usher in this new computing future. He continues in his email:

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. We are the only company with history and continued focus in building platforms and ecosystems that create broad opportunity.

The appointment of Nadella could signal a doubling down on its Server and Tools business, which is now a $19 billion piece of Microsoft’s overall revenue picture. The new CEO was also instrumental in Microsoft’s work around digital rights management and interactive TV, however, and as mentioned he also works with the Xbox division, so he’s a more well-rounded pick for the top spot than many may realize. Nadella’s own message repeatedly hits the dual points of both cloud and mobile devices, too, which is a good indication that the company doesn’t want it to seem like they’re going to be ignoring the hardware side of their business.

Alongside the news of Nadella’s appointment, Microsoft also announced that founder and former CEO Bill Gates will be joining as “Founder and Technology Advisor,” a role that will see him take a more active hand in product development. The move seems designed to offset any perception of Nadella’s inexperience on the hardware side, and indeed, the team should be a formidable one if Gates is really going to be spending more time off the bench. Gates will apparently spend 30 percent of his time at Microsoft under the new arrangement.

Nadella is only the third person to occupy Microsoft’s CEO role in 39 years, preceded by Ballmer who filled the role between January 2000 and January 2014 and Gates, who led the company between 1975 and 2000.

Microsoft will be hosting a webcast at 12:00 PM Pacific to discuss the executive changes, so tune in then to hear more about Redmond’s latest leader, or follow our coverage right here.

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