Ending months of speculation, Microsoft announced Tuesday that its board has appointed Satya Nadella as CEO and a member of the Microsoft board.
Nadella, previously the EVP of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group, will succeed Steve Ballmer to become the company’s third-ever CEO.
Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder and first CEO, will step down as board chairman to assume a new mentoring-focused board role as Founder and Technology Advisor, where he will “devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction.” John Thompson, lead independent director for the board of directors, will become chairman of the board and remain an independent director on the board.
Other candidates rumored to be in the running for the Microsoft CEO post included Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson, the company that bought Microsoft’s IPTV-focused Mediaroom assets last year, and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.
Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992 from Sun Microsystems. During his career, he has helped to lead Microsoft’s move into the proverbial cloud and infrastructures supporting products such as Bing, Xbox, and Microsoft Office
“During this time of transformation, there is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella,” said Gates, in a statement. “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.”
“Having worked with him for more than 20 years, I know that Satya is the right leader at the right time for Microsoft,” added Steve Ballmer, who announced last August that he would retire once a successor was named.
In an email to employees, Nadella said Microsoft is ready to move forward and write the next chapter of its history.
“While we have seen great success, we are hungry to do more,” he wrote. “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.”