Musical Chairs at Microsoft: Satya Nadella is now CEO, John Thompson is Chairman, and Bill Gates is putting in more time

microsoft musical chairs

It’s not much of a surprise, given all the leaks last week, but it’s official now: Satya Nadella is Microsoft’s new CEO, replacing Steve Ballmer, who’s held the position since January 2000. According to Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley, Nadella’s first day is today, February 4th, and Steve Ballmer’s stepping down is effective immediately.

ceo satya nadella

Microsoft is retooling to become a “devices and services” company, and key to that second word — services — is the cloud. They’ve been doing “cloud” well before the term became popular, going back to the days of services like Passport (later Live, now “Microsoft account”) and Hotmail, and now Azure, on which big services like Xbox Live, Bing, and Office 365 now run. Nadella’s background as the president of the Server and Tools Business division as well as the key role he played in moving the company’s tools and technology towards Azure were likely significant factors in his selection.

The practical upshot for mobile and mobile management: A CEO who lives and breathes the cloud means that there will likely be an emphasis on cloud-based services like Office 365, cloud-based Exchange, and the management tool Intune, as well as deeper forays into the business of BYOD and MDM. Less certain is how they’ll do on the devices half of the equation — we have yet to see who’ll play devices yin to Nadella’s services yang.

My former coworker Jeff Sandquist (he’s now Twitter’s head of developer and platform relations) points out: “one positive impact for Microsoft employees will be incredibly well designed internal t-shirts. Satya always made sure of that [for the Server and Tools Business]”, and he’s right — I always tried to get one of their shirts when I was there:

server cloud tools t-shirt

Bill Gates will step down as Chairman and cede the position to this gentleman, who led Microsoft’s search for a new CEO:

chairman john thompson

John W. Thompson is the CEO of Virtual Instruments, and before that, he was the CEO of Symantec (during which time he was the only African-American leading a major tech company). The Obama administration considered him for the position of Commerce Secretary.

products and tech - bill gates

Bill Gates may be stepping down as Chairman, but he’s stepping up his role within the company, devoting more time to “supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction”. Gates did try to push a couple of ideas that the company eventually gave up on, including the early Tablet PC and smartwatches.

this article also appears in the GSG blog