If you’ve been keeping a cursory eye on Microsoft’s CEO hunt over the past few months, yesterday’s announcement came as no surprise: long-rumoured favoured candidate Satya Nadella has the job.
But before all this insider talk by “people familiar with the matter” brought him to the world’s attention, Nadella has been a name that gained much less fuss than the reported competitors for the job, such as Nokia’s Stephen Elop and Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally. How much less? This graph of global Google search queries paints a succinct picture:
So who is this man who is stepping into a position as head of one of the world’s biggest tech companies?
He has been at Microsoft longer than Justin Bieber has been alive
Nadella joined Microsoft back in 1992, and went on to working in areas ranging from research and development in online services to business solutions, search and advertising. Most recently, he served as the company’s Executive Vice President of Cloud and Enterprise, an area where Microsoft has seen great growth in recent years. Having served under both Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s third ever CEO comes with a lot of history and decades of experience in the company — but he’s asked Gates to stay on to advise on products, even though the philanthropic founder has stepped down from his role as chairman of the board.
He joined Twitter but didn’t tweet for almost four years
Up until recently, he didn’t even have a profile photo. Yes, he was an egg. As TechCrunch spotted in late January, Nadella hasn’t been a prolific Twitter user — his previous tweets (from back in 2010) include “HTML5 – what fun!” and the delightful “Bing IT On!”. However, now Nadella has gained tens of thousands of followers, an avatar, an authenticated account and a new goal:
first commitment as CEO…i won't wait 4 years between tweets!
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) February 5, 2014
He is from India and um, likes cricket
While a few personal details were released about Nadella, his home country has been a major source of interest. The new CEO was born in Hyderabad, India, and completed his bachelors degree there before moving to the US for further postgraduate study and later employment, although he still returns every year to visit his parents. He even attended MIT (no, not that one — the Manipal Institute of Technology). His new job makes this (as the Times of India puts it) “offspring of the Indian system” the top-ranked Indian CEO in the world.
While Nadella has kept quite a low public profile, he is also an apparent cricket fan, online course junkie and father of three.
He’s going to get Microsoft to the future — faster
At LeWeb Paris 2013, he hinted that areas like how users interact with technology (voice, gestures, etc) and the increasing digitization of the world would be key in the future. “The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must move faster, focus and continue to transform,” he is quoted as saying in Microsoft’s CEO announcement. “I see a big part of my job as accelerating our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly.” In his letter to Microsoft employees, Nadella explained how Microsoft would be updating to focus on mobile and cloud:
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. The opportunity ahead will require us to reimagine a lot of what we have done in the past for a mobile and cloud-first world, and do new things.