Microsoft Names New CEO And Bill Gates Steps Down As Chairman, But Will It Be The Turnaround Microsoft Needs?

Over at Microsoft, it's time for a change. On Tuesday, the software giant revealed that they've appointed Satya Nadella as Microsoft's new CEO, replacing Steve Ballmer, who announced his retirement in August. Plus, Bill Gates will be stepping down as chairman to become a one-day-a-week "technology advisor" for the company he co-founded in 1975 — a move that seems like a downgrade, but might actually be the turnaround the company needs.

Nadella, at 46, has spent almost half his life at Microsoft, with a 22-year career spanning leadership in "cloud services, server software, Internet search and business applications," between spending time chasing his hobbies of cricket and poetry. Cloud development was one of Nadella's key successes, and he previously served as Executive Vice-President of the Cloud And Enterprise Group. Now, he's succeeding Gates and Ballmer as Microsoft's third CEO.

In an email to employees early Tuesday, Nadella wrote:

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.

Gates has been pulling for Nadella's appointment during the entire process, Bloomberg reported: Nadella is someone "well-versed" in the business end of Microsoft. “During this time of transformation and remarkable opportunity for Microsoft, there is no better person to lead the company than Satya,” Gates said.

Ballmer seems like a fan, too, saying in his own email to employees that Nadella "will be a great CEO, and I am pumped for the future of Microsoft."

Now that the PC age is giving way to Macs and mobile devices, it's Microsoft's relevance that's more tenuous at the moment — as Nadella seems well aware. As he writes to the rest of Microsoft:

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.

Some analysts are hopeful that Gates' new role — speculated to be a more hands-on position than his former role — will "save" the company by allowing him to apply his techy genius in a more direct and productive manner. Bloomberg reported yesterday that Gates' new appointment, while definitely a title downgrade, is actually a bigger role in the development of the company.

Rather than business acumen alone, what Microsoft might really need is more Bill Gates — and getting him away from the admin-burdened duties of the desk might just be the best way to get him back where his talent could best be utilized to fix Microsoft's biggest weaknesses.

"I think tying up Bill Gates in all the administrative things that relate to business reviews and relate to understanding the global strategy, i think that's the kind of stuff you can have a very, very, you know, excellent executive doing, but it's not taking advantage of his understanding of tech and where tech is going and where it has been," IDC Technologies Vice President and Chief Research Officer Crawford Del Prete said Monday.

However, Gates has said that his foundation, the Bill And Melissa Gates Foundation — which happens to be the largest private charity on the planet — will continue to be his focus, which might explain his one-day-a-week employment at the tech giant. “My full-time work will be the foundation for the rest of my life,” Gates told Bloomberg on Jan. 21. “I’m not going to change that.”

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Image: Wikimedia Commons