Satya Nadella is being credited by industry experts for rejuvenating Microsoft’s entrepreneurial spirit, enabling the software giant to transform itself to stay on top of the game.
Since Nadella was named the third CEO of the Bellevue, Wash. company in 2014, Microsoft’s market cap has more than doubled to $681.6 billion. It’s now the top-rated enterprise-cloud vendor, “fending off savage competition from Amazon, IBM, Salesforce.com and others,” wrote Forbes contributor Bob Evans, who considers Nadella “The #1 CEO Of The Year In The Cloud Wars.”
Evans believes that Microsoft has a very good chance to become the first vendor to reach $20 billion in annual enterprise-cloud revenue, possibly by the end of 2018. Moreover, the “software-native” company has further upped its competitive advantage by employing “transformative new technologies” – artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, IoT – to drive customer-centric innovation. To demonstrate that commitment, Microsoft last year launched an AI division with more than 5,000 computer scientists and software engineers.
“Without question, the person most responsible for that extraordinary turnaround, transformation, rejuvenation, re-imagining, overhaul, restoration, resurrection, and near-miracle reversal is the eloquent and passionate Nadella, who, as if he didn’t have enough going on in 2017, somehow managed to write a book on business and leadership called ‘Hit Refresh,’” Evans wrote.
In the company’s July earnings conference call, Nadella himself detailed what has been happening at Microsoft: “Overall the approach we have taken for multiple years now is to transform everything that we do inside the company, whether it’s about creation, how we are organized in the R&D, how we think about breaking down any silos and category definitions we may have had in the past, how we think about even marketing and the marketing approach and then, of course, even with the go to market.”
“Over the years we have been making changes and now that we have a lot more momentum and critical mass we’re going to that next phase and that’s what you are seeing us in terms of changing the skill sets, changing the scope of how we show up to support the digital transformation needs of both large customers, as well as small businesses,” he said.
Nadella touted the introduction of Microsoft 365, which brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility & Security “in a complete, secure solution to empower employees, safeguard businesses and simplify IT management.” Fortune 500 customers Fed-Ex, Dow Chemical, Staples and Progressive Insurance all chose the new offering.
“Microsoft 365 is a fundamental shift in how we design, build and go-to-market to address customer needs,” Nadella added. “The success of our Secure Productive Enterprise offering with its triple-digit seat growth is one reason we are investing in Microsoft 365 for businesses of all sizes.”
Nadella is “rewriting Microsoft’s code,” according to Fast Company’s Harry McCracken. Rather than “clinging to Windows like a security blanket,” Microsoft has released more than 100 iOS apps and even embraced Linux, the open-source Windows rival. Investors are also applauding Nadella’s $26 billion deal for LinkedIn, which – along with Microsoft’s subsequent deal for analytics firm Maluuba – can glean insights from the combined data of LinkedIn users and buyers of Office 365 and other products.
“Nadella has not only restored Microsoft to relevance; he’s generated more than $250 billion in market value in just three and a half years—more value growth over that time than Uber and Airbnb, Netflix and Spotify, Snapchat and WeWork,” McCracken wrote. “Indeed, more than all of them combined.”
Nadella told Bloomberg that the secret to his success has been to show – and promote – empathy within the organization, a trait he realized was critical to every endeavor after raising two children with disabilities.
“Most people think empathy is just something that you reserve for your life and your family and your friends, but the reality is that it’s an existential priority of a business,” Nadella said. “I think empathy is core to innovation and life’s experience.”
Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
Headquarters: Redmond, WA
Undergraduate degree: Manipal Institute of Technology (Bachelor of Engineering),
Graduate degree: University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (BS), University of Chicago (MBA)
First joined company: 1992
Named CEO: 2014