Breaking News: Satya Nadella named Microsoft CEO; Gates steps down as chairman, steps up to mentor insider CEO

Satya Nadella at the Accel Partners SymposiumMicrosoft Corp. announced today that it has picked Satya Nadella as Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors effective immediately.

Also effective immediately, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer will step down from their positions as Chairman of the Board and CEO respectively. Bill Gates is allocating a third of his time to mentoring Satya. Gates is being replaced by our own SiliconANGLE @theCUBE alumni John Thompson who will serve as Chairman of the Board.

This marks the end of an era in the computer industry and makes today Nadella’s first day of work as CEO. Gates and Ballmer led one of the most fantastic eras of business disruption, enablement, and change in the computer revolution. A new modern era is upon us, one of cloud computing, big data, mobile computing, internet of things, open source, and social infrastructure. The game has changed and so are the players at Microsoft.

This ends weeks of speculation about who would be named CEO. The ongoing discussion about the friction between the factions inside Microsoft comes to an end. The notion of an outsider like Sundar Pichai appeals to so many people who want a rebooted Microsoft.  Other candidates who were also bested by Nadella include Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Stephen Elop former Nokia CEO, and former Skype CEO & Microsoft strategy executive Tony Bates. In the end, my sources tell me that the company needed to have the Microsoft DNA. Period, end of conversation.  Outsiders were considered and in the mix for sure.  Word internally is that founder Gates felt strongly about innovation coming from inside Microsoft.  The Microsoft team and Bill Gates put their money where their mouth is and will be actively supporting Nadella and offering him ongoing mentorship. In the announcement video below, Bill Gates says he will dedicate one third of his time helping Satya Nadella put his running shoes on.

Here is Bill Gates passing the torch to the new school at Microsoft let by Satya Nadella.

“During this time of transformation, there is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella,” said Bill Gates, Microsoft’s Founder and Member of the Board of Directors. “Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision and the ability to bring people together. His vision for how technology will be used and experienced around the world is exactly what Microsoft needs as the company enters its next chapter of expanded product innovation and growth.”

Since joining the company in 1992, Nadella has spearheaded major strategy and technical shifts across the company’s portfolio of products and services, most notably the company’s move to the cloud and the development of one of the largest cloud infrastructures in the world supporting Bing, Xbox, Office and other services. During his tenure overseeing Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business, the division outperformed the market and took share from competitors.

“Microsoft is one of those rare companies to have truly revolutionized the world through technology, and I couldn’t be more honored to have been chosen to lead the company,” Nadella said. “The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform. A big part of my job is to accelerate our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly.”

Gates’ new role on the Board will be Founder and Technology Advisor.  He will devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction.

“This is a big opportunity for Microsoft to align the company around a core vision and execute it,” says Dave Vellante chief analyst of Wikibon.org.

My comment on Facebook today sums up my view from all the data gathered:

“It’s Nadella as Microsoft CEO. Torch passed to the new generation of Microsofties. Gates, Ballmer and old school folks – Take a bow. A nice run it was.”

“It’s time the factions inside Microsoft ‘break bread’ and come together around a new CEO. Microsoft cuts the ‘old school’ and brings in the ‘new school’ and keeps it in the family. Good call now get back to winning the operating system game boys and girls.”

Two of the board members are theCUBE alumni.  Satya, a #techathlete for sure, appeared on theCUBE at the Accel Stanford Enterprise Symposium last year.  Jeff Kelly and I had a chance to talk to him in depth. We like that he gets technology and the internal decks are clear for him to get stuff done. He’s a cloud guy who gets consumerization. Can he lead the troops? If not just call Bill Gates!

Here is our interview with Satya Nadella on SiliconANGLE @theCUBE.

Steve Ballmer’s email to the company

From: Steve Ballmer
To: All Employees
Date: Feb. 4, 2014
Subject: Satya Nadella – Microsoft’s New CEO

Today is an incredibly exciting day as we announce Satya Nadella as the new CEO of Microsoft. Satya will be a great CEO, and I am pumped for the future of Microsoft. You can read the full announcement here.

Satya is a proven leader. He’s got strong technical skills and great business insights. He has a remarkable ability to see what’s going on in the market, to sense opportunity, and to really understand how we come together at Microsoft to execute against those opportunities in a collaborative way. I have worked closely with Satya for many years and I have seen these skills many times. He is not alone, though. Our Senior Leadership Team has never been stronger, and together this group will drive us forward.

Microsoft is one of the great companies in the world. I love this company. I love the bigness and boldness of what we do. I love the way we partner with other companies to come together to change the world. I love the breadth and the diversity of all of the customers we empower, from students in the classroom to consumers to small businesses to governments to the largest enterprises.

Above all, I love the spirit of this place, the passion, and the perseverance, which has been the cornerstone of our culture from the very beginning.

Stay focused and keep moving forward. I am excited about what we will do. Satya’s appointment confirms that.

Thanks for making Microsoft the most amazing place to work on the planet, and thanks for the chance to lead.

Steve

Satya Nadella first email to the company

From: Satya Nadella
To: All Employees
Date: Feb. 4, 2014
Subject: RE: Satya Nadella – Microsoft’s New CEO

Today is a very humbling day for me. It reminds me of my very first day at Microsoft, 22 years ago. Like you, I had a choice about where to come to work. I came here because I believed Microsoft was the best company in the world. I saw then how clearly we empower people to do magical things with our creations and ultimately make the world a better place. I knew there was no better company to join if I wanted to make a difference. This is the very same inspiration that continues to drive me today.

It is an incredible honor for me to lead and serve this great company of ours. Steve and Bill have taken it from an idea to one of the greatest and most universally admired companies in the world. 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.

While we have seen great success, we are hungry to do more. 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.

As we start a new phase of our journey together, I wanted to share some background on myself and what inspires and motivates me.

Who am I?

I am 46. I’ve been married for 22 years and we have 3 kids. And like anyone else, a lot of what I do and how I think has been shaped by my family and my overall life experiences. Many who know me say I am also defined by my curiosity and thirst for learning. I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete. I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things. So family, curiosity and hunger for knowledge all define me.

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 know it can sound hyperbolic — and yet it’s true. We have done it, we’re doing it today, and we are the team that will do it again.

I believe over the next decade computing will become even more ubiquitous and intelligence will become ambient. The coevolution 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.

It will better connect us to our friends and families and help us see, express, and share our world in ways never before possible. It will enable businesses to engage customers in more meaningful ways.

I am here because we have unparalleled capability to make an impact.

Why are we here?

In our early history, our mission was about the PC on every desk and home, a goal we have mostly achieved in the developed world. Today we’re focused on a broader range of devices. While the deal is not yet complete, we will welcome to our family Nokia devices and services and the new mobile capabilities they bring us.

As we look forward, we must zero in on what Microsoft can uniquely contribute to the 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.

We are the only ones who can harness the power of software and deliver it through devices and services that truly empower every individual and every organization. We are the only company with history and continued focus in building platforms and ecosystems that create broad opportunity.

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. This is the core of who we are, and driving this core value in all that we do — be it the cloud or device experiences — is why we are here.

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. We sometimes underestimate what we each can do to make things happen and overestimate what others need to do to move us forward. We must change this.

Finally, I truly believe that each of us must find meaning in our work. The best work happens when you know that it’s not just work, but something that will improve other people’s lives. This is the opportunity that drives each of us at this company.

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.

Satya

About John Furrier

John Furrier is founder, co-CEO, and Editor-in-Chief of SiliconANGLE, a new media company covering the intersection of computer science and social science. Furrier is also the co-founder and CEO of CrowdChat a social media platform for large-scale group conversations over hashtags. In addition to SiliconANGLE John runs Broadband Developments a private incubator and investment firm for creating new startups. Furrier lives in Palo Alto, California with his wife and four children.