Now that Satya Nadella has become Microsoft’s new CEO that everyone wants to know, what will he do? Though considered a falling star, Microsoft remains formidable, and Nadella’s actions could turn the company into a comeback kid. Here are ten quotes that hint at the path Nadella will take as Redmond’s head cheese.
“Our industry does not respect tradition – it only respects innovation.”
Of all of Nadella’s quotes, this short sentence, which can be found early in his first letter to the company as Microsoft’s CEO, is the best. In just a handful of words, he acknowledges that Microsoft is perceived as a stodgy, slow, and uncooperative organization that has damaged its fortunes, and hints that he’ll strive to fix it.
“Be passionate and bold. Always keep learning. You stop doing useful things if you don’t learn.”
Sure, this may sound like fluff, but remember, we’re talking about a Microsoft CEO. This statement, which Nadella gave to The Deccan Chronicle in a July 2013 interview, is hardly the kind of thing you’d expect from Steve Ballmer or even Bill Gates in the mid-90s. Nadella seems to be willing to consider what partners, customers and critics have to say, and that could go a long towards repairing Microsoft’s lousy relationship with them.
“Our job is to ensure Microsoft will thrive in a mobile and cloud-first world.”
This statement, from Nadella’s letter to the company, is interesting not only because of what it includes but also what it excludes. Windows and Office weren’t mentioned in his letter, while cloud services received plenty of attention. While Nadella will no doubt support the company’s money-makers, he obviously feels that the future is in the cloud.
“In the post-Snowden world, you need to enable others to build their own cloud and have mobility of applications. That’s both because of the physicality of computing–where the speed of light still matters–and because of geopolitics.”
This quote from an interview with Forbes says a lot about Nadella’s attitude. Microsoft has seen no shortage of criticism over the information Snowden released, so a defensive response or a smoke-screen of platitudes could have been expected.
Instead, he tackles the problem, and explains what it means for the company. He recognizes that not everyone is comfortable handing data over to a third party and promises to build products for those who’d rather not. This bodes well for Microsoft’s stance on privacy, and indicates that the company will be more sensitive to customer needs during his tenure.
“Over the next 10 years, we’ll reach a point where nearly everything has become digitized.”
The LeWeb conference held in Paris late last year put Nadella in front of Om Malik, founder of GigaOm, who asked where Nadella thought technology is headed. His response, seen above in bold, is perhaps to be expected, but it goes well beyond the mundane.
Nadella explained, for example, that even farmers are using connected devices to monitor production on a large scale in real-time. This is the future he hopes Microsoft can thrive in, and it indicates that the term “enterprise market” means more to him than the IT department at your local bank or call center. If his vision is successful, Microsoft could become much like IBM or Cisco, a silent giant making big bucks with products most people don’t even know about.
“Devices are where experiences come together. On Surface Pro, a lot of the experience is on the device, but all of the applications that run on the device have back ends in the cloud.”
Even when talking about devices, a business Microsoft has tried to make an important pillar of its business, Nadella references the cloud.
And that may be for the best. Apple has advanced its position as a premium product maker by offering a variety of cloud-powered services, like password management, device backup and iTunes. Nadella’s obsession may be exactly what’s needed to help the company catch up in this crucial area.
“I think playing cricket taught me more about working in teams and leadership that has stayed with me throughout my career.”
Satya Nadella has mentioned his love for cricket on several occasions. While this may seem like a minor insight into his private life, his talk of leadership vibes with his reputation inside the company. He believes in collaboration, but he doesn’t believe a team effort requires layers upon layers of management. Nadella, who’s inheriting a company from Steve Ballmer in need of reorganization, is likely to execute it without hesitation.
“You’re trying to take something that can be described in many, many sentences and pages of prose, but you can convert it into a couple lines of poetry and you still get the essence, so it’s that compression. The best code is poetry.”
Politico’s look at Satya Nadella found that, in addition to his love of cricket, he also has a passion for poetry. While hardly a must-have qualification for CEO, it shows that he’s avoided the narrow-minded focus on technology that plagues some engineers in the tech industry, and ultimately alienates them from the people using the products they develop.
This quote shows that Nadella understands there is more to the world than features, spec sheets and code, which means that he should be a good judge when it comes to deciding when products should be released.
“We will continue to make strides in providing innovation in the realm of connected systems that bridge the unstructured world of human processes with the structured world of business applications.”
If you’d like a more direct indication that Satya Nadella understands the importance of the human element when developing a new product, this quote should provide the evidence you need. What’s more, it’s not even recent, but from a 2006 article about an upcoming Microsoft Office feature. This shows that Nadella’s humanist bent isn’t a recent invention designed to massage the press.
“I”m also grounded in our challenges, in fact, that’s the adventure […] which creates the competitive zeal in me to do great work.”
There’s no doubt that Nadella comes off as a softer, more open individual than either Ballmer or Gates, and that might lead some to fear that he lacks the courage needed to move a company like Microsoft forward. As this quote shows, it’d be a mistake to think that the new CEO has no competitive spirit. He does; but unlike Ballmer, who was driven by sales, Nadella is driven by innovation and conquering technological challenges.
And that may be just what Microsoft needs.