February 4

Microsoft veteran named CEO; Gates leaves chair role

Satya Nadella, 46, replaces Steve Ballmer and becomes only the third leader in the software company’s 38-year history.

By Ryan Nakashima
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Satya Nadella demonstrates some of the features of Live Search on a mobile device at the company’s campus in Redmond, Wash.

The Associated Press / 2008 file photo

“Satya was really one of the people who helped build up the commercial muscle,” said Kirk Materne, an analyst with Evercore Partners. “He has a great understanding of what’s going on in the cloud and the importance of delivering more technology as a service.”

Nadella is a technologist, fulfilling the requirement that Gates set out at the company’s November shareholder meeting, where the Microsoft chairman said the company’s new leader must have “a lot of comfort in leading a highly technical organization.”

Born in Hyderabad, India in 1967, Nadella received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Mangalore University, a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and a master’s of business administration from the University of Chicago.

He joined Microsoft in 1992 after being a member of the technology staff at Sun Microsystems.

One of his first tasks will be integrating Nokia’s money-losing handset and services business. Microsoft agreed in September to buy that and various phone patent rights for 5.4 billion euros ($7.2 billion) in one of Ballmer’s last major acts as CEO. That deal is expected to be completed by the end of March.

Partly because of Nadella’s insider status and the fact that both Gates and Ballmer will remain Microsoft’s largest shareholders and for now, company directors, analysts aren’t expecting a quick pivot in the strategy of making its own tablets and mobile devices.

Some hope, however, that he will make big changes that will help lift Microsoft stock, which has been stuck in the doldrums for more than a decade. Since Ballmer took office in Jan. 13, 2000, Microsoft shares are down a split-adjusted 32 percent, compared with a 20 percent gain in the S&P 500.

“We do not want to see a continuation of the existing direction for the business, so it will be important that Mr. Nadella be free to make changes,” Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund wrote in a note Friday.

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