One of the hardest things a leader could do is to turn around the declining fortune of a company. But, this is exactly what the third Microsoft Chief Executive Officer, Satya Nadella, is doing in the history of the technology giant.
Microsoft, perhaps, needs no introduction. Anyone who has heard of Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, will probably have no problem knowing what the company he founded does.
For those who still don’t, however, this company powers some of the mobile devices and laptops used by many people in the world, including Nigeria, particularly by people using Windows devices.
After Bill Gates quit as CEO of the company in 2000, he handed over the helm of affairs to Steve Ballmer, who ran the firm till 2014.
Though Ballmer was able to achieve some successes for the technology behemoth, he was criticised for failing to capitalise on the emergence of several new consumer technologies, thereby forcing the company to play catch-up.
For instance, in the areas of mobile computing such as smartphones and tablets, Ballmer was said to be slow to embrace the platforms, leaving the show to the company’s major competitors — Apple and Google.
His slow reaction definitely took a toll on the company’s fortune, thereby making the company’s share price to stagnate during his tenure and allowing its competitors to have a field day.
Apparently, the company couldn’t take this anymore and on February 4, 2014, Nadella was named the new CEO.
Since taking over Microsoft leadership, Nadella has won where his predecessor failed, taking the company back to shape.
During his about two-year tenure, he has launched an intuitive Windows 10 platform, which is now being run on about 110 million devices.
Microsoft was playing catch-up in the smartphone and tablet markets before, but with Nadella on board, the company is now making a ground in the mobile computing market, especially with the success of Windows 10-powered smartphones and Surface tablets.
As Microsoft’s third CEO, Nadella has brought a relentless drive for innovation and a spirit of collaboration to the role.
In one of his interviews, he said he joined Microsoft 22 years ago because he saw how clearly Microsoft empowered people to do magical things and ultimately make the world a better place.
“Many companies,” he explained, “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.”
Originally from Hyderabad, India, where he was born on August 19, 1967, Nadella now lives in Bellevue, Washington DC, United States.
The 48-year-old holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago.
He is married to Anupama, his father’s friend’s daughter, with whom he has three children.
In his spare time, he loves to read poetry and follows cricket, a sport he played in school as a child.
Analysts have said that under him, Microsoft is pointed in a good direction for the first time in modern memory.
From employee to CEO
Before being named CEO, Nadella held leadership roles in both enterprise and consumer businesses in the company.
After joining Microsoft in 1992, he quickly became known within as a leader who could span a breadth of technologies and businesses to transform some of Microsoft’s biggest product offerings.
Prior to his role as CEO, he was executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group, one of the company’s fastest-growing and most profitable businesses. While he was there, the group’s revenue increased by 22 per cent, and its profits by 33 per cent.
Previously, he led the research and development for the Online Services Division, guiding the development of one of the largest cloud infrastructures in the world, to support products including Bing, Xbox and Office.
“There is something only a CEO uniquely can do, which is to set that tone, which can then capture the soul of the collective. And it’s culture,” said Nadella recently.
This is, perhaps, true.
Under Ballmer, Microsoft had become a place where product groups warred with each other for attention and influence, even as products like Windows 8 saw the company’s star wane rapidly.
Extremely promising and future-looking products were killed just because they didn’t help the Windows business, seen as the centre of the company, while rising competitors like Apple and Google were either mocked or ignored until it was too late.
The end result was a lot of warring, independent product groups, all doing their own things.
This is where Nadella’s genius comes in — as said by some of the company’s highest echelons.
“Part of the new Microsoft is being given the permission to meet customers where they’re at,” Microsoft Azure Chief Technology Officer, Mark Russinovich, said recently. “We’re no longer bound by an arbitrary rule.”
On Wednesday, February 3, 2016, Microsoft announced it was acquiring London-based mobile typing Artificial Intelligence-driven firm, SwiftKey, for $250m (N50bn).
This was another smart move by Nadella as he competes with other tech companies in the AI space.
Nadella’s salary and net worth
If one is doing a great job, he will earn more, in most instances, which explains why Nadella earned about $18.3m (N3.7bn) in 2015 on the back of strong performance.
In its annual proxy statement recently, Microsoft revealed that Nadella earned $18.3m (N3.7bn) in total for 2015, with a base salary of $1.2m (N240m), stock awards worth $12.8m (N2.6bn) and a $4.3m (N860m) bonus.
In the proxy statement, the board praised Nadella’s performance as the reason for the $4.3m (N860m) bonus.
“In fiscal year 2015, operating income and earnings per share declined, while consistent progress was made in building future growth opportunities. Mr. Nadella provided strong, consistent vision and execution on our mobile-first and cloud-first strategy, continued to effectively guide the transformation of the company’s culture and he effectively represented the company with customers, partners, investors and employees,” the statement said.
Nadella’s net worth is around $45m (N9bn) and was Forbes’ 61st most powerful person in the world in 2015.
Nadella is ready for a home reboot, as he has put his stylish home in Seattle for sale, according to reports.
He bought the home in 2000 for $1.4m (N276m), and now is on the market for $3.5m (N700m).
The residence is a four-bedroomed, 4,050-square-foot mansion with a glass-and-steel structure, creating a modern, industrial look. The open floor plan and vaulted ceiling of the great room make for an airy and light-filled space.
An open loft could be a great office for the next CEO-in-training. The sleek kitchen opens to dining and living spaces. And the home’s wall of windows showcases the verdant lawn, plus inspiring views of the Olympic Mountains, Lake Washington, and the Seattle skyline.
There’s no idea where the tech leader is headed, but there are reports that the married father of three may be taking a note from his former billionaire bosses, Gates and Ballmer, who have full-compound mansions.
During the launch of the company’s latest Surface tablets and smartphones, Nadella was seen being driven in a posh GMC Yukon.
The big Cadillac Escalade-resembling SUV features front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, satellite radio, HD Radio, a nine-speaker Bose audio system, tri-zone automatic climate control, OnStar with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot and a touch-screen infotainment system.
A power sunroof, navigation system, a Blu-Ray rear-seat entertainment system, a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system, push-button start, a wireless smartphone charging pad, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane keep assist and a safety alert driver’s seat are other features that can be found in the car.
Sources: businessinsider.com, techcrunch.com, forbes.com, wikipedia.org, finance.yahoo.com, brainyquote.com, microsoft.com, realtor.com, usnews.rankingsandreviews.com, Punchng.com