Microsoft Picks Satya Nadella to Replace Ballmer as CEO

Microsoft's Satya Nadella is boxing up his office and preparing to move a few doors down the hall. By Matt Whitlock

Introducing Satya Nadella, the new CEO of Microsoft, and one of now only three people who can claim that title.

Microsoft's long hunt for a CEO has been making headlines since current CEO Steve Ballmer announced his retirement, and the board has been searching far and wide both inside and outside of the company for his successor. Rumors and speculation over potential candidates from every corner of the globe have made the great CEO hunt interesting to watch from the sidelines as big names like Ford CEO Allan Mulally, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, and Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg pop in and out of the news.

However, the likelihood of a non-Microsoft insider taking the helm was unlikely. Microsoft's business is overwhelmingly complex, both from a sheer size and technical perspective. Anyone who really understands all of Microsoft's businesses would have to come from within. With the exception of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop (a former insider), that left current insiders like board member John Thompson, former Skype CEO Tony Bates, Cloud Computing Cheif Satya Nadella, and COO Kevin Turner as the likely candidates.

When the dust settled, there was really only one candidate with both the technical chops and business sense to lead, and that is Nadella.

"During this time of transformation, there is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella," says Bill Gates, Microsoft's Founder and Member of the Board of Directors. "Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision, and the ability to bring people together. 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."

Nadella takes the reigns as CEO at the top of his game, turning the Server and Tools group into the most profitable business at Microsoft, spearheading the creation of Microsoft's Azure Cloud Computing Platform, and many other technical feats before the recent re-org. He's well liked, well respected, forward thinking, and technically brilliant. Although I would credit Ballmer for making Microsoft a profitable, cash-generating machine, it has been clear in recent years that Ballmer's Microsoft hasn't been on the cutting edge of products and services. It is hoped that a Nadella-led Microsoft will be less likely to miss huge trends, like the move to mobile devices that put competitors like Apple and Google far ahead of Microsoft in certain categories.

"The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster, and continue to transform," says Nadella. "A big part of my job is to accelerate our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly."

It also seems Microsoft's Board of Directors wants to make sure that doesn't happen either. Founder and Former CEO Bill Gates is stepping down from his role as Chairman of the Board of Director and becoming Founder and Technology Advisor. The role change allows Mr. Gates to spend much more of his time working directly with Nadella and various product groups within Microsoft.

John Thompson will now be chairman. With the addition of Nadella, Microsoft's Board of Directors consists of Ballmer; Dina Dublon, former chief financial officer of JPMorgan Chase; Gates; Maria M. Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College; Stephen J. Luczo, chairman and CEO of Seagate Technology PLC; David F. Marquardt, general partner at August Capital; Nadella; Charles H. Noski, former vice chairman of Bank of America Corp.; Dr. Helmut Panke, former chairman of the board of management at BMW Bayerische Motoren Werke AG; and Thompson, CEO of Virtual Instruments.

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