In a tech industry increasingly running on good ideas and a lot of software, you may have more in common with Satya Nadella than you might think.
Like you, Satya Nadella is an engineer waking up to a pretty rich and complex job this morning. Unlike you, Microsoft's new chief executive probably has a bit more pressure, privilege, and power as he faces his first day.
A ton has already been written about this 22-year Microsoft veteran with EE, computer science, and business degrees from around the globe. Microsoft created its own Nadella landing page, positioning the 46-year-old for what's likely to be the start of a corporate rebranding campaign about a reinvigorated Microsoft.
The Washington Post, among others, characterized him as an insider working in the shadow of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. It's true that both Gates and Ballmer remain on the board, and Gates said Nadella asked him to return as a tech advisor -- a job to which he will devote "more than a third of his time." I suspect as with the case of Intel picking an insider last year, someone who did not understand the inner workings of the company would not be very effective at this stage.
A Seattle Times columnist pointed to Nadella's training as an EE and computer scientist to argue he represents a shift from Ballmer the business guy to a more technical leader who will speak to developers. Unfortunately, plenty of video clips testify the new chief can also talk the vapid tech speak that's expected from the corporate office.
An engineer by training, Nadella takes charge of a company with about 100,000 employees and $77 billion in revenue.
It must be both energizing and overwhelming to consider the options for a business that includes competing with everything from Apple's iPhone to Amazon's web services to the Sony Playstation. Commentators are already drafting to-do lists for Nadella that include rationalizing versions of Windows, lowering prices, and launching new moonshot projects. I'd be happy to add a few of my own, and delighted to hear a few of your items for his to-do list.
Today's tech world is like the giant corporations that increasingly define it -- the Apples and Googles and Microsofts. It is based on interlocking sets of increasingly deep, complex technologies. It spans broad global markets. And yet it still moves at the lightning pace, pivoting on a new idea or a few lines of software.
In the course of whatever will be his tenure, Satya Nadella has an amazing opportunity to influence directions at his company and the industry. And despite the fact this industry increasingly looks like a land of giants, so do you.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times