Microsoft’s CEO search has finally ended with the appointment of Satya Nadella to CEO by Microsoft’s Board of Directors. They have finally selected someone to replace Steve Ballmer after the sudden and unexpected announcement of his departure. Microsoft’s CEO search started with people like Ford’s current CEO Allan Mulally and Qualcomm’s soon-to-be CEO Steve Mollenkopf, who actually got the position earlier than anyone had expected because of Microsoft’s offer to make him CEO. Qualcomm obviously couldn’t let that happen so instead they promoted Mollenkopf from COO to CEO earlier than anyone would have expected. There are some very interesting parallels between the two companies but we’ll go over those later.
Satya Nadella, ultimately became their choice for CEO because they couldn’t bring anyone in from the outside and he was their best choice for promoting from within. A lot of people talked about the fact that Microsoft wanted to bring in someone else from the outside to bring in a set of ‘fresh eyes’ but the truth is that there are plenty of very capable and skilled people within the company that don’t necessarily have Microsoft blinders. And by the looks of it, Satya Nadella appears to be one of those people even though he has been with the company for 22 years.
Satya’s life began back in his home city and country of Hyderabad, India. He got his undergrad from Mangalore University and his Masters in Computer Science from none other than UWM-Milwaukee and his MBA from Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He has slowly worked his way up through the company over the decades and served as the VP of Microsoft’s Business Division, Corporate VP of Microsoft’s Business Solutions and Search and Advertising Platform Group as well as EVP of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise Group.
His continued success within the company has been one of the reasons that he was promoted to the position of CEO and his belief in life-long learning that he talked about in his interview (pictured above). Microsoft actually had a pretty good video, even if it was a bit creepy seeing him walk through the empty halls of one of Microsoft’s busiest buildings.
Satya still has a lot of work cut out for him, as he needs to find a way to improve Microsoft’s business offerings beyond what he’s already been able to do and even more importantly make Microsoft’s mobile push a significant one. Right now, Microsoft’s weakest point is the fact that the PC market is slowing and the fact that the server market is growing ever more Linux-based. It also doesn’t help that Microsoft’s Windows 8 OS is taking a beating on the desktop and on laptops because of the growth of Android and OS, which are mutually exclusive when Windows is considered. Sure, there are some dual-OS devices, but the generally accepted principal is that devices ship with one OS.
For Satya, I believe the biggest challenge will be trying to figure out how they can make the Nokia acquisition work for Microsoft and their OS, as well as how he will integrate Stephen Elop into his management team. Because, after all, Stephen Elop was CEO of Nokia and there were lots of rumors that he was being considered for CEO. Thankfully, Microsoft’s Board of Directors is not crazy and they didn’t end up picking him, considering what he did to Nokia. Anyways, Satya appears to have a good head on his shoulders and is probably one of the most qualified people to run Microsoft today.
This brings us back to the Qualcomm parallel, in the fact that both Microsoft and Qualcomm have both only had two CEOs since their founding and this will make only the third CEO in the company’s history. In the case of Qualcomm, it would be the first person that isn’t a member of the Jacobs family, however, in Microsoft’s terms that isn’t really the case since Ballmer and Gates aren’t related even though they’ve been through a lot together. The other parallel is the fact that Bill Gates is stepping down as Chairman of the board and Jacobs is stepping down as CEO, however, both men are going to actually focus on new and exciting technologies and helping the company on the bleeding edge of tech. The truth is that both Gates and Jacobs are visionary CEOs and they both know what to look for in the next great product, and because of this both of them may not have positions of power within the company, but their influence is only increasing.