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Despite the rumors involving Pichai, Microsoft picks Satya Nadella as new CEO

Despite recent rumors suggesting that Microsoft was targeting Google's Sundar Pichai as a CEO candidate, Microsoft has now formally announced its own Satya Nadella will fulfill the role.
February 4, 2014

Image credit: Heisenberg Media

Late last week a report surfaced suggesting that Google’s own Sundar Pichai was being courted by Microsoft and that negotiations for the job were in “full swing”. As you probably already heard early today, it turns out that Microsoft has instead named Satya Nadella as the next CEO of Microsoft.

More than ever, Microsoft needs a man who can move past tradition and take the bull by horns.

Nadella is a Microsoft veteran, starting with Microsoft way back in 1992, where he most recently served as executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group. In many ways, Nadella as CEO makes perfect sense for Microsoft — at least on the surface.

The veteran knows Microsoft’s direction and culture well, an advantage he holds over previously suggested outside candidates including Pichai. On the other hand, that’s part of the problem. Nadella is part of the ‘old Microsoft’, a company that built its empire in the 90s and, according to its biggest critics, has been spiraling downward ever since.

More than ever, Microsoft needs a man who can move past tradition and take the bull by horns. This means creating a better strategy for mobile and finding ways to get past consumer perception issues that still exist with Windows 8 and 8.1.

To Nadella’s credit, he has already mentioned several times that Microsoft’s future lies in better understanding the mobile and cloud markets. In fact, Nadella’s first letter to Microsoft’s employees reflected this same stance:

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 a fan of Google’s operations, I would have been very curious what someone like Pichai could have done for Microsoft. Nadella points out that Microsoft needs to thrive in a “mobile and cloud-first world”, something Pichai has a great deal of experience with, considering his role with both Android and Chrome. Of course, if Microsoft really was courting Pichai (which we aren’t so sure..), we believe he made the right move by turning down the offer and are glad to see he is sticking with Google.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see what Nadella will bring to the table, and if he has what it takes to shake-up Microsoft. Aside from the shift to a new CEO, Microsoft is also making several board changes and has appointed John Thompson as the company’s new Chairman.

In order to help with the transition, Microsoft’s Bill Gates will be returning to Microsoft full-time several days a week as a “technology advisor”.

What do you think, is replacing the Chairman, and CEO positions at Microsoft the positive change Redmond needs to play catch up in the mobile industry? Do you think that Pichai could have made any difference for Microsoft, had he been chosen instead? Or do you feel that Microsoft doesn’t really need to be a mobile leader and can find lasting success elsewhere? Let us know what you think in the comments below.