Comings & Goings: Surprise! Satya Nadella Confirmed as Microsoft's New CEO, Gates Lets Go of Chairmanship, Will Help Nadella Move Forward


Well, we’re not quite sure “anticlimactic” even comes close to Microsoft and Satya Nadella both making it official this morning that Nadella is now Microsoft’s new CEO, John Thompson is its new chairman, and Gates is letting go. We shared our detailed thoughts on Nadella becoming Microsoft’s new head on Friday, as well as our thoughts on Gates letting go and Thompson becoming chairman. This morning nothing has changed. What we concluded on Friday – that Microsoft has decided to play it safe - is now today’s reality. In a video released earlier today by Microsoft, Gates says he will spend over 30 percent of his available time at the company to "meet with product groups" and to assist Nadella as he transtions into the CEO role.

Nadella delivered a fairly compelling email to the entirety of Microsoft’s 100,000+ employees this morning, in which he also managed to quote Oscar Wilde. Here are a few very select quotes from the actual Nadella email itself (anything in bold is our emphasis):

I’ve been fortunate to work closely with both Bill and Steve in my different roles at Microsoft, and as I step in as CEO, I’ve asked Bill to devote additional time to the company, focused on technology and products. I’m also looking forward to working with John Thompson as our new Chairman of the Board.

Our industry does not respect tradition — it only respects innovation. This is a critical time for the industry and for Microsoft. Make no mistake, we are headed for greater places — as technology evolves and we evolve with and ahead of it. Our job is to ensure that Microsoft thrives in a mobile and cloud-first world. 

Why am I here? 

I am here for the same reason I think most people join Microsoft — to change the world through technology that empowers people to do amazing things.

I believe over the next decade computing will become even more ubiquitous and intelligence will become ambient. The co-evolution of software and new hardware form factors will intermediate and digitize — many of the things we do and experience in business, life and our world. This will be made possible by an ever-growing network of connected devices, incredible computing capacity from the cloud, insights from big data, and intelligence from machine learning. 

This is a software-powered world. 


As we look forward, we must zero in on what Microsoft can uniquely contribute to the world. The opportunity ahead will require us to re-imagine a lot of what we have done in the past for a mobile and cloud-first world, and do new things. 

Qi Lu captured it well in a recent meeting when he said that Microsoft uniquely empowers people to "do more." This doesn’t mean that we need to do more things, but that the work we do empowers the world to do more of what they care about — get stuff done, have fun, communicate and accomplish great things.

What do we do next?

To paraphrase a quote from Oscar Wilde — we need to believe in the impossible and remove the improbable. 

This starts with clarity of purpose and sense of mission that will lead us to imagine the impossible and deliver it. We need to prioritize innovation that is centered on our core value of empowering users and organizations to “do more.” We have picked a set of high-value activities as part of our One Microsoft strategy. And with every service and device launch going forward we need to bring more innovation to bear around these scenarios. 

Next, every one of us needs to do our best work, lead and help drive cultural change.

Finally, I truly believe that each of us must find meaning in our work.

Many companies aspire to change the world. But very few have all the elements required: talent, resources, and perseverance. Microsoft has proven that it has all three in abundance. And as the new CEO, I can’t ask for a better foundation. 

Let’s build on this foundation together. 


As emails to employees go that was well done. We like the Oscar Wlde quote. We’d add in Spock’s “Live long and prosper” to it. Certainly investors share that sentiment!

There isn’t much more to say or add at this point, short of wishing Satya Nadella and John Thompson huge best wishes for a super future (we had to use “super” there, we assume you know why)

It is interesting to note that we heard on Monday by way of Bloomberg News that new board member ValueAct plans to push Microsoft to "emphasize enterprise and cloud businesses” and to consider "jettisoning or scaling back hardware and consumer products." Well that is certainly interesting! That would land ValueAct squarely in the Nadella camp as far as what Microsoft’s CEO needs to bring to the game.

But will it prove a conundrum for Nadella? Even as Bill Gates begins his new role in assisting Nadella to transition to the stage of stars (and this is a good thing BTW – Gates has such incredible insights that it will be a huge bonus for Nadella at the beginning of his tenure) it’s an interesting dynamic to have in hand as Nadella begins his new role – stay the old course or forge ahead on the new? Absolutely food for ever more thought on Microsoft. BTW, as we sign off here MSFT is simply sitting unmoved at $36.49. We suppose investors aren’t too joyous…at least not yet.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker
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TechZone360 Senior Editor

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