Microsoft has named Satya Nadella, an executive in charge of the company’s small but growing business of delivering software and services over the Internet, as its new CEO. Company founder Bill Gates is leaving the chairman role for a new role as technology adviser.
The software company announced today that Mr. Nadella will replace Steve Ballmer, who said in August that he would leave the company within 12 months. Mr. Nadella will become only the third leader in the software giant’s 38-year history, after Mr. Gates and Mr. Ballmer. Board member John Thompson will serve as Microsoft’s new chairman.
Mr. Nadella, who is 46 and has worked at Microsoft for 22 years, has been an executive in some of the company’s fastest-growing and most profitable businesses, including its Office and server and tools business.
For the past seven months, he was the executive vice president who led Microsoft’s cloud computing offerings. That’s a new area for Microsoft, which has traditionally focused on software installed on personal computers rather than on remote servers connected to the Internet. Mr. Nadella’s group has been growing strongly, although it remains a small part of Microsoft’s current business.
“Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision and the ability to bring people together,” Mr. Gates said in a statement. “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.”
The company said that Mr. Gates, in his new role as founder and technology advisor, “will devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction.”
Mr. Gates will also remain a member of Microsoft’s board.
Analysts hope that Mr. Nadella can maintain the company’s momentum in the rapidly expanding field of cloud computing while minimizing the negative impact from Microsoft’s unprofitable forays into consumer hardware. Major rivals in cloud computing include Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Salesforce.com Inc., and IBM Corp.
Microsoft shares rose 32 cents to $36.80 in morning trading.