Five Things About Potential New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

So who placed bets with us on the next Microsoft CEO? These were the odds we posted back in November:

  • Stephen Elop 1/7
  • Alan Mulally 6/1
  • Satya Nadella 7/1
  • Tony Bates 10/1
  • Mike Lawrie 20/1
  • Sheryl Sandberg 25/1
  • Bill Gates 50/1

Anyone go with Nadella? Seven times your investment isn't so shabby.

Nadella Examined

Microsoft would not comment on news of a new CEO when contacted this morning by CMSWire.

However, Nadella, Microsoft's executive vice president of cloud and enterprise, is looking like the favorite based on an initial report from Bloomberg this week.

So, here are five things you should know about the man:

  1. He's a cloud king. Nadella, president of Microsoft's server & tools business, is all about the cloud, just like Microsoft is. Its cloud division is worth $19 billion. Last fall, Microsoft’s wave of releases were are all about enterprise cloud solutions. Nadella blogged at that point that estimates have the potential IT market for cloud at more than $2 trillion. And Microsoft’s commercial business, spanning nearly every area of enterprise IT, represents 58 percent of Microsoft’s total revenue, Nadella said. 
  2. He's not into mud-slinging. Remember when Box Co-Founder Aaron Levie about three years ago, before a sizable audience, flashed a mocked-up screen shot of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer dressed like a pirate, pointed to it and snidely remarked, “Enterprise software isn’t sexy, and that’s because it makes you think of this guy"? Nadella made it clear he realizes that friction on the cloud is not part of his company’s future. 
  3. His skills match Microsoft's vision. A cloud guy is pretty much what Microsoft wants in a leader. “Enterprise services continue to be an area of great strength, growth and opportunity," according to Ballmer's final letter to shareholders, "as businesses of all sizes look to Microsoft to help them move to the cloud, manage a growing number of devices, tap into big data and embrace new social capabilities.” In a keynote interview at TiEcon 2013, Nadella said first-party workloads like Skype, Bing, Xbox Live, Office 365 are forcing the corporation to reinvent every bit of its infrastructure. At the core of what Microsoft calls "Cloud OS" is reinventing infrastructure in support of modern needs of its own applications.
  4. He's a devoted father. On the personal side, Nadella is a father of two special needs children who have in many ways shaped the kind of person, and worker, he is. "I know for sure when all is said and done," he said at TiEcon, "a lot of our lives is defined by that piece and what it means to be a dad for children who need help. That has shaped our a lot of our attitude and how we get up in the morning each day to get up for work, knowing full well when all is said, 'Did I do the right thing for my children?' That shapes a lot of my attitude at work."
  5. Reinventing yourself is his model for success. Nadella said Microsoft would "rather die than be irrelevant," he said. Reinvent yourself every single second of every single day, and, if not, "you're going to die." "We fall behind on trends," Nadella admitted, "but if you're not working on what's most relevant and sticking with it, you are going to be irrelevant in the long run. There is not a day in Microsoft where we have said, 'Wow, we've got it made.'" Come at it with an attitude of both confidence and humility that you are "not on top of the hill." "The day," he added," you get any one of those wrong -- if you don't have confidence you can actually go conquer the hill, or you think that you don't have the humility to recognize your true position...either one of those things can really be an issue."