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Microsoft on Tuesday named Indian-born Satya Nadella its CEO and assigned co-founder Bill Gates a larger role in the company as a technology adviser to the new boss.
Nadella,46, will succeed Steve Ballmer, who had announced last August his intention to retire, to become only the third CEO of the company in its 39-year history.
“Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision and the ability to bring people together,” co-founder Gates, who was also the Redmond-based company’s first CEO, said in a statement announcing the appointment.
“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,” he added.
And among Nadella’s first decisions as CEO, and one that he had insisted upon during contract negotiations, was to ask Gates to play a larger role in the company.
“I’ve asked Bill to devote additional time to the company, focused on technology and products,” Nadella said in an email to Microsoft employees.
Gates will remain a member of the board but will step down as its chairman, and he will assume a new role as Founder and Technology Advisor.
Lead independent director of the board John Thompson, who led the search of Ballmer’s successor, will be the new chairman, replacing Gates.
Nadella has been called a “safe choice”, rather than some one who would overhaul the company which, according to many, was needed for it to catch up with rivals Google and Apple.
Nadella was born and raised in Hyderabad — cricket remains a hobby, he has said — studied at the Manipal Institute of Technology in India and Stanford and Wharton in the US.
He joined Microsoft in 1992, and led major projects including the company’s move to the cloud and the development of one of the largest cloud infrastructures in the world.
During his tenure overseeing Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business, the division outperformed the market and took share from competitors, said the announcement.
Apart from being shaped by his family and his experiences, Nadella said in his email to Microsoft employees, “I am also defined by my curiosity and thirst for learning”.
“I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete. I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things.”
Nadella said he is “honoured, humbled and excited” by his appointment.