Satya Nadella: Microsoft's new man at the top

One way street signs in New York Which way will the new boss take Microsoft?

Related Stories

After months of searching and speculation, Microsoft has a new chief executive - company veteran Satya Nadella.

The Indian-born technology executive is now tasked with leading a company which has been dominated by the names Bill Gates and then Steve Ballmer since it was founded in the 1970s.

It is a company which is still the world's largest software firm - but has in the past decade seen keen rivals loom into view - and share-price fluctuations shake investor confidence at times.

Many consumers have preferred Apple products in recent years, edging out some of Microsoft's market share.

Safe bet?

Steve Ballmer was chief executive from 2000 - succeeding Bill Gates. He is perhaps best-known for his sometimes flamboyant presentation style, proclaiming in his famous speech from the year he took up the role, "I love this company."

But what about the new man?

Satya Nadella Satya Nadella is a Microsoft insider

Mr Nadella was born in 1967, he is an electrical engineering graduate from Mangalore University - and has postgraduate degrees in computer science and business.

He joined Microsoft in 1992 having previously worked for Sun Microsystems.

Since mid-2013 he has been running the company's cloud computing and business platforms. Cloud computing has become increasingly important to software companies, as people connect to the internet with many different kinds of devices - mobiles and tablets - and share resources, and files online.

'Inevitable choice'

Paul Kedrosky managing partner at SK Ventures, a Californian venture-capital firm, says that Mr Nadella was the "inevitable choice" for the role of chief executive.

"Most outsiders either lacked industry insight, or were smart enough to realise this was a near-impossible job," he says.

Mr Kedrosky says that Mr Nadella has a "high profile inside the company, and is liked and respected outside".

Sign in the desert Many think Microsoft needs to speed up in its race with Apple for desirable products

He adds that his experience in developing the cloud at Microsoft has been significant, and will be "hugely significant" in future for the company.

Rupert Goodwins, technology expert and journalist, agrees - and says that this is a "very significant and potentially company-saving appointment.

Start Quote

They could use some fresh blood”

End Quote Colin Gillis BGC Partners, New York

"Nadella is a cloud man. He'll have a chance of weaning Microsoft off its addiction to expensive licensing fees for software that people don't actually want (although they have to use). To be fair, Microsoft has been going in that direction, but reluctantly and with a lot of internal empire wars."

He has, says Goodwins, a good reputation for being "top notch intellectually and very talented technically".

What about the issue of him being a Microsoft insider through-and-through?

Mr Goodwins considers it to be a debate which has become "overblown".

Bill Gates Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, was involved in the search for the new boss

However, he says: "The classic outsider-saves-the-company story is that of Lou Gerstner, who turned IBM around when he came in from Nabisco. But the two companies aren't exactly parallel, and their problems aren't as similar as they may appear. Microsoft does know what to do, on some level, which IBM didn't, and Nadella is totally tuned-in to the future of corporate computing."

Colin Gillis, a technology analyst at BGC in New York says that some investors will be unhappy with the lack of radical change.

Start Quote

It's a tough job in a complex company”

End Quote Paul Kedrosky Managing partner at SK Ventures, California

"They could use some fresh blood," he says.

"But he knows the company - he may wind up being more aggressive than people think - and the company should have announced a new appointment in the New Year, but nobody else worked for the role."

So what does Mr Kedrosky make of the whole process of replacing Microsoft's boss?

"The CEO search took so long for a few reasons," he says.

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer Steve Ballmer, former chief executive at Microsoft, was famous for his enthusiastic presentation style

"First, it's a tough job in a complex company. Second, there were insiders involved, Gates in particular, which made many candidates nervous that they wouldn't be able to effect as much radical change as they might like without interference. Third, the company wasn't really sure what it wanted. A pure operator? A visionary? An outsider? An insider?

"All of these were considered crucial at various stages, and all were eventually discarded as the list of candidates shrank and the search length became embarrassing. We are finally back to where we should have been in the first place: choosing the right candidate, which they have -- and it will be still be very, very difficult for him."

More on This Story

Related Stories

From other news sites

More Business stories


BBC Business Live


    Homebase and Argos owner Home Retail Group has reported a 5% fall in half-year pre-tax profit to £13.5m. But like-for-like sales were up 2.9% at Argos, and 4.1% at Homebase. Chief executive, John Walden said the group expects to meet City expectations for its full year profit. But he added: "as always, the full-year outcome will depend upon the important Argos Christmas trading period".

    Cigarettes in their package

    Cigarette-pedlar BAT has said revenue for the nine months to the end of September grew by 2.4%. "Industry volume has declined at a lower rate than last year, but is being impacted by large excise-driven price increases," it said.

    SUPERGROUP Via Twitter James Quinn Executive Business Editor, Telegraph

    tweets: "Strong comeback from Sutherland who fell victim to all he tried to achieve at the Co-op Group, and can be credited with rescuing Co-op Bank."

    07:29: SUPERGROUP
    SuperGroup chief executive, Euan Sutherland,

    Former Co-op Group chief executive Euan Sutherland is back having been announced as chief executive of SuperGroup this morning with immediate effect. He was previously CEO of Kingfisher UK, which operates B&Q, Screwfix and TradePoint.

    07:21: GERMAN GROWTH BBC Radio 4

    Germany has very low unemployment, Dr Stephanie Hare, senior analyst for western Europe at Oxford Analytica tells Today. "Making more jobs for Germany isn't the issue here," she says. "We need stimulus and investment in countries that are going to help boost the future of Germany's trading partners in the eurozone. So we can either increase demand in Germany, or Germany could be part of a wider European solution to increase stimulus in its eurozone trading partners." She points out Germany has benefitted from other countries investing and stimulating its economy once or twice in the past century.

    07:11: EUROTUNNEL

    Eurostar results yesterday, Eurotunnel results today. Revenues for the third quarter of 2014 increased 7% to €343.9m (£271.5m).

    06:57: UK BORROWING Radio 5 live

    "The main reason tax receipts aren't as high as you'd like is the increase in personal tax allowance," says Alan Clarke, UK and eurozone economist at Scotiabank on Wake Up to Money. He's talking about yesterday's disappointing figures. There are more people in work, though, which means less spending on benefits, he says. Low-paid jobs mean that doesn't help as much as you may think, points out presenter Mickey Clark.

    06:47: GERMAN GROWTH BBC Radio 4

    Christian Schultz, senior economist at Berenberg Bank, tells the Today programme Germany needs to work on its infrastructure, but even if it started to work on inward investment now the effects would not be felt for several years. This as more political pressure builds on Germany to act to avert another eurozone crisis. But German inward investment doesn't solve the problem, he says. "How does Germany fixing some bridges make French and Italian entrepreneurs invest more?"

    06:34: STORM POWER

    The UK's wind farms generated more power than its nuclear power stations on Tuesday, the National Grid says. The energy network operator said it was caused by a combination of high winds and faults in nuclear plants. Wind made up 14.2% of all generation and nuclear offered 13.2%. As BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin reports, for a 24-hour period yesterday, spinning blades produced more energy than splitting atoms.

    06:24: CITY POWERS Radio 5 live

    On things like transport and education, local government can make better decisions, says Alexandra Jones, chief executive of the Centre for Cities, which does independent research and policy analysis on UK city economies on 5 live. "Whatever you're doing in a city, you have to balance the books, though, she says. Competitiveness on tax becomes a "race to the bottom" she adds.

    06:13: CITY POWERS Radio 5 live

    "I think there's real momentum... this is the biggest opportunity in decades to transport the relationship with local government," says Mr Wakefield on 5 live. The debate for Scottish independence shows there are a lot of people interested in local powers, he adds.

    06:04: CITY POWERS Radio 5 live

    Allowing UK cities to make their own decisions on tax and spending could boost economic growth by £79bn a year by 2030, a year-long study has concluded. "More people want local powers in Leeds," says Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council on Radio 5 live. He thinks councils can target some spending more efficiently.

    06:01: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Good morning! Get in touch via email at or on twitter @BBCBusiness

    06:00: Matthew West Business reporter

    Morning all. We have the latest minutes from the Bank of England's September Monetary Policy Committee meeting at 09:30; Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail Group publishes interim results before that and there are trading updates from GlaxoSmithKline, British American Tobacco and Everything Everywhere. We'll bring you it all as it happens.



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.