It's official: Satya Nadella is the new CEO of Microsoft, and Bill Gates will become his technology mentor.
Nadella has worked at Microsoft since 1992 in a variety of roles, including leading the transformation of Windows Live Search into Bing. Before assuming the CEO role, Nadella was the executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group.
That the new leader of Microsoft comes from a cloud-focused role seems all too appropriate, as Steve Ballmer — the man Nadella is replacing — made a concerted effort to push Microsoft away from standalone software, and toward becoming a device and services company, highlighted by the rise of cloud-friendly endeavors like Office 365 and Windows Azure. Both became billion dollar businesses for Microsoft in 2013.
Ballmer's retirement marks the end of a 13-year run chock full of both ups and downs: While Microsoft rakes in cash from Windows and Office, it also missed the mobile bandwagon and is struggling to catch up with Windows 8 and Windows Phone. For every Xbox success story, there's been a Zune-style flop.
But Nadella is starting with as damn near a blank slate as is possible: Beyond the move to a services and devices company, Microsoft also recently overhauled its organizational structure into "One Microsoft" and purchased Nokia's massive phone business. The Microsoft of today is not the Microsoft of yesterday — and now it has a new leader to oversee its transition.
The sweeping out of the old guard doesn't end with Ballmer, however. Microsoft also announced that Bill Gates is stepping down from Chairman of the board to assume a new role as the company's Founder and Technology Advisor. In this capacity, Gates will "devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction."
John Thompson, Microsoft's former lead independent director for the board of directors, will assume the Chairman role. Thompson, who previously held roles as the CEO of Symantec and a VP at IBM, spurred Ballmer to essentially move faster or get out of the way, which coaxed Ballmer into stepping down to make way for Nadella.
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