Microsoft's long search for a new boss is over: The company's board of directors has named Satya Nadella its new CEO, effective immediately, which means that current CEO Steve Ballmer is retiring early.
The announcement confirms recent reports indicating that Microsoft was set to promote Nadella to the top position. Indian-born Nadella, 46, has been with the company for 22 years, and most recently served as the executive vice president of its Cloud and Enterprise division. He is only the third CEO in Microsoft's 39-year history, following Bill Gates and Ballmer.
"During this time of transformation, there is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella," said Gates, founder of Microsoft, in a press release today. "Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision and the ability to bring people together. His vision for how technology will be used and experienced around the world is exactly what Microsoft needs as the company enters its next chapter of expanded product innovation and growth."
As Nadella takes the CEO post, Gates is transitioning from his previous role as chairman, which he had held since 1981, into a new position on Microsoft's board. Under the title of founder and technology adviser, Gates will devote more of his time to the company, "supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction." John W. Thompson, who joined Microsoft's board in February 2012 and led the CEO search, is Microsoft's new chairman.
Nadella was born in India in 1967, and received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Mangalore University before moving to the U.S., where he earned a master's in computer science from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and then an MBA from the University of Chicago. Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992, around the time he began the MBA program, and has worked with a number of different branches of the company, including Office, Bing and Server and Tools.
"It is an incredible honor for me to lead and serve this great company of ours," said Nadella in an email to Microsoft employees today. "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."
Ballmer, the outgoing CEO, called Nadella a "proven leader" in a companywide email today. "Satya will be a great CEO, and I am pumped for the future of Microsoft," said Ballmer. "Stay focused and keep moving forward. I am excited about what we will do. Satya's appointment confirms that. Thanks for making Microsoft the most amazing place to work on the planet, and thanks for the chance to lead."
As the head of the Cloud and Enterprise Group, Nadella oversaw the development of cloud-based infrastructure such as Windows Azure. The division's technology provides the underpinning for consumer-facing services such as Bing, Skype, Xbox Live and the Xbox One Cloud. Nadella's career at Microsoft has focused on a wide variety of services the company offers, whereas its platforms and devices businesses — products such as the Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows and Windows Phone — will be relatively new to him. Most of his experience even in executive positions has come as a relative unknown, a behind-the-scenes official, and he now has to lead one of the largest corporations in the world.
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