After a search process that seemed as drawn out as a season of American Idol, Microsoft decided to stick with an insider to replace Steve Ballmer in the software company’s top job. A 22-year veteran of the company, Satya Nadella was EVP of the Cloud and Enterprise group, and formerly oversaw the Bing search service. Microsoft also says that Bill Gates will become more active in a new role on the board as Founder and Technology Advisor, where he’ll help Nadella “in shaping technology and product direction.” An independent director, John Thompson, will replace Gates as board chairman.
The execs have their work cut out for them: Over the last five years Microsoft shares have lagged rivals led by Apple and Google as the company’s Windows-based products struggled to find a foothold in the world of smartphones and tablets. “The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform,” Nadella says. “A big part of my job is to accelerate our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly.” Gates says that Nadella is the right pick because he’s “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.” Here’s the company’s release: