Vision For Microsoft’s Future- Satya Nadella was a surprise choice as the CEO of Microsoft (MSFT) in February 2014, only the third in its 40 years, after the legendary Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.
He’d been the quiet and effective leader in charge of starting to move Microsoft’s focus from permanent licensing software to cloud-based recurring subscription services, which pool computing resources to manage the tidal wave of data that overwhelmed traditional client-server networks.
Though Microsoft remained the largest desktop software maker, morale was low because PC sales were declining, none of its recent products had been hits, and it had largely missed out on the market shift to search, mobile devices, and social networking. Apple (AAPL) had surpassed it as the world’s most valuable company four years earlier. But Nadella provided a bold vision of the company as the preferred platform for futuristic technology for his 100,000 colleagues in 190 countries.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution lies ahead, one in which machine intelligence will rival that of humans,” wrote Nadella, 51, in “Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone.” “The combination of cloud computing, sensors, Big Data, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence, mixed reality and robotics foreshadows a socioeconomic change ripped from the pages of science fiction.”
Microsoft’s stock has risen from 37 when he took the helm to a high of 115 in October 2018. (It recently traded near 104.) And with its market capitalization currently around $800 billion, it’s battling Amazon.com (AMZN) to be the world’s largest company by that metric.)
Born in 1967 in Hyderabad, India, Nadella aspired to be a banker — leaving him plenty of time to play cricket. That passion gradually transferred to the personal computer he received at 15. But after failing the entrance exam to the Indian Institutes of Technology, Nadella settled for a degree in electrical engineering.
He decided to join a friend at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, where he earned a degree in computer science in 1990. He then moved to Silicon Valley to take a job at Sun Microsystems.
Microsoft recruited Nadella two years later to work on its Windows NT operating system at the start of the company’s rise to domination of the global PC software market. He proved a quick learner and great collaborator because he was that rare combination: an innovator thinker and eager listener to the ideas of others.
Nadella flew to Chicago on weekends to earn an MBA and went back to India briefly to marry his childhood sweetheart, Anu. They would have three children, one with cerebral palsy and another with learning challenges, who helped him develop more empathy — and a passion for using technology to help those disabled or impaired.