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New CEO for Microsoft

Bill Gates gets new role as adviser for technology

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Longtime company executive Satya Nadella has been chosen to replace former CEO Steve Ballmer.

MICROSOFT / MCT Enlarge Image

Longtime company executive Satya Nadella has been chosen to replace former CEO Steve Ballmer.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Microsoft's search for an heir to CEO Steve Ballmer, a process that dragged for months and touched off the biggest parlour game in tech of Name That CEO, has finally come to an end with an insider selection.

The software behemoth tapped Satya Nadella as CEO, elevated John Thomson to chairman and shifted Bill Gates into a role as technology adviser.

Who is incoming Microsoft chief Nadella?

Microsoft's veteran executive -- he's been with the software giant for more than two decades -- had been running its enterprise and cloud businesses. The native of Hyderabad, India's tech centre dubbed Cyberabad, is said to be an affable team builder with consensus inside Microsoft for the top spot.

"His vision for how technology will be used and experienced around the world is exactly what Microsoft needs as the company enters its next chapter of expanded product innovation and growth," Gates said in prepared remarks.

In contrast to Ballmer, known as a rowdy basketball fan and pickup game player with aggressive elbows, Nadella is a bookish and soft-spoken type, with hobbies of cricket and poetry.

Nadella speaks of the "humbling" and "incredible honour" to take the lead at Microsoft along with a passion to continue to educate himself through classes and books.

"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," said Nadella in an email memo to employees on his first day as chief.

Nadella, 46, drove the server and tools business growth until 2013 and led as one-time Bing boss. Analysts say his engineering strength bodes well inside Microsoft.

"He's well-respected and thought of as a strong leader -- I don't know if he's thought of as a visionary," said reDesign analyst Rocky Agrawal, a former Microsoft employee.

Dan Ives, tech industry analyst at FBR Capital Markets, said shareholders who preferred fresh blood will be disappointed. "The main issue around Microsoft is its need for innovation and a set of fresh, new strategies to drive the next leg of growth," said Ives.

Still, Nadella has gained a lot of clout inside the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant for his part in Microsoft's move to the cloud.

"He's recognized for the transition to the cloud," said IDC analyst Al Hilwa. "He's been spearheading this transition to the cloud, which is one of the things that's going right for the company. They have been going toe-to-toe with Amazon on features and price -- he gets a lot of respect for that."

Nadella should get the respect and intellectual buy-in from longtime employees on Day 1, said Wes Miller, an analyst at independent research firm Directions on Microsoft.

"The time frame required for an external hire to come online and really be effective is incredibly lengthy," Miller said. "Microsoft needs leadership that can hit the ground running, rather than hiring someone who has to make brute-force guesses to appease the critics outside of Microsoft."

But can he redirect Microsoft to a good position in mobile to gain favour among consumers?

"He gets credit for being transformative in his thinking. He has injected much-needed agility into the company," Hilwa said.

 

-- USA Today

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 5, 2014 B4

History

Updated on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:46 AM CST: Replaces photo

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