Microsoft has named 22-year company veteran Satya Nadella as its next chief executive, ending a protracted search for a new leader after Steve Ballmer announced his intention to retire in August.
Mr Nadella called the appointment “humbling” in an email to the company’s employees. He is only the third CEO in Microsoft’s 39-year history, following co-founder Bill Gates and Mr Ballmer.
Mr Nadella, who led the creation of Microsoft’s internet-based, or “cloud,” computing services, said in a videotaped statement that he would focus on “ruthlessly” removing any obstacles to innovation at the company.
Microsoft also said John Thompson, lead independent director, would succeed Mr Gates as chairman. Mr Gates will assume a new role as technology adviser and retain a seat on the board, the company said in a statement.
“Satya’s asked me to step up, substantially increasing the time that I spend at the company,” Mr Gates said.
“I’ll have over a third of my time available to meet with product groups. It’ll be fun to define this next round of products, working together.”
Shares of the world’s largest software maker closed at $36.35 up 1c (0.03%) on Nasdaq trading in New York yesterday.
The appointment came after a search committee led by Mr Thompson gave itself a year to find a new CEO, but the process took longer than most had expected.
Sources said Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally was a leading contender for many months until he recommitted himself to the automaker in early January.
Mr Nadella also beat out various other candidates for the job. Several were close to the company, like Stephen Elop, who is set to rejoin Microsoft when its acquisition of Nokia’s handset business closes, and Tony Bates, the former Skype boss now in charge of Microsoft’s business development.
Investors and analysts are already weighing how effective Mr Nadella will be in reigniting the company’s mobile ambitions and satisfying Wall Street’s hunger for cash.
Microsoft faces a slow erosion of its PC-centric Windows and Office franchises and needs somehow to challenge Apple and Google in the new realm of mobile computing.
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