Microsoft names company veteran Satya Nadella as CEO

Microsoft has appointed company veteran Satya Nadella to replace outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer and drive the technology company’s turnaround.

Video: Satya Nadella’s first interview as Microsoft CEO

Nadella joined Microsoft 22 years ago and has held a variety of senior roles, most recently as vice president of the company’s cloud and enterprise business. The division grew its revenue by 107 per cent year on year in Microsoft’s second quarter and it currently generates about two thirds of Microsoft’s profit.

He will become responsible for reviving Microsoft’s fortunes, a company that has lost more than 35 per cent of its stock value since Ballmer assumed the CEO position in 2000 as it failed to keep up with competition from the likes of Apple, Sony and Google. Ballmer announced in August last year he would retire from Microsoft once it had found a successor.

Nadella will also lead the strategy shift Ballmer set on course last year for the company to become “One Microsoft”. Other key responsibilities include continuing the integration of the Nokia devices business – acquired by Microsoft last year – into the wider company, speeding up the development of mobile services and maintaining the performance of its cloud business.

In an email to staff following his appointment Nadella hints that connected devices, cloud computing, insights from big data and intelligence from machine learning will be key to Microsoft’s success over the next decade.

In a statement he says: “The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform. A big part of my job is to accelerate our ability to bring innovative products to our consumer more quickly.”

Nadella is a “tough, number-driven leader”, according to Forrester analyst James Staten, who says his appointment is a “great thing” for the overall direction of the company.

Staten adds: “He is a visionary, has passion for change, is making it happen and knows what it takes to drive change in the unique Microsoft culture. An outsider would have a hard time accomplishing this coming in fresh. And time is of the essence.”

Microsoft also announced today (4 February) that its founder and chairman of the board Bill Gates will step up to become “technology advisor”, devoting more time to the company and supporting Nadella in shaping its technology and product direction. John Thompson, chief executive officer of Virtual Instruments, will assume the role of chairman.

Gates says during this time of “transformation” for Microsoft, Nadella is best placed to lead the company.

“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,” he adds.