Satya Nadella, a 22 year veteran of the company, was picked as the CEO to replace Steve Ballmer. Nadella runs the cloud and enterprise software and services side of Microsoft's business. Could this signal the jettisoning of Bing and Xbox?
There are no bold choices in CEO selection when you are one of the biggest tech companies in the world. After months of speculation, Satya Nadella has been anointed CEO.
Microsoft also produced this first video conversation with Nadella as CEO. It's pretty much in line with the message from his first email to Microsoft employees as CEO:
Nadella is curious, loves wife, kids, company and books. He wants to learn. Cloud, cloud, cloud. Innovation, innovation, innovation. Mobile, mobile, mobile. Works with really talented people. World is software driven. Ruthlessly remove obstacles to success. I mean, nothing much here to write home about but, I'll keep writing anyways to get my per post payment.
Let's be honest, internally, Microsoft's politics is driven by the cash cows of Windows and Office. How Nadella is going to manage to shake things up in that regard, no one knows. He is an insider so, maybe his killer instinct is not there. After all, he got to where he is by compromising and working with the very people who may stand in the way of Microsoft's future.
On the other hand, you could argue that Nadella knows who to target and who needs to go and knows where the bottlenecks in the company are situated. So, as CEO he has the power to blood the company in a quick, efficient manner. Providing he has the stomach for it. I mean, maybe he has read Game of Thrones, because he loves books so much, and he knows that Ned Stark has to get chopped. Or, maybe he likes reading books on pottery, which are of no use in corporate warfare. I don't know.
Bill Gates, who is resigning as chairman but will remain to personally advise Nadella on products, delivered this video endorsement of the new CEO:
With Gates stepping down as Chairman of the Board, there may be some hope that a shake-up at Microsoft is afoot; the entrenched old guard and cash cow factions within the company will realize that Gates is, effectively, saying, "There's a new sheriff in town, and I am getting out of his way."
Frankly, we won't know for some time. This is a giant monopolistic company that has a lot to lose, even though it has more to gain, from change. We don't know Nadella other than the fact that he is a company man. We have no vision for Microsoft's future other than the base level platitudes, and cloud, cloud, cloud, mobile, mobile, mobile.
We don't know what is going to happen to experiments in consumerism like Bing and Xbox. They don't really fit into any practical future model of change if Microsoft goes all in in on the enterprise. So, I reckon they will be easily divested, either as standalone entities, or sold off.
Maybe Yahoo and Marissa can take Bing and turn it into a Google competitor with teeth. If anyone can do it, it is my Marissa.
Xbox can certainly stand on its own. Unencumbered by Microsoft and the oneness doctrine, it could become a killer consumer electronics company with so many options, and a legacy that positions it for real domination.
No one knows, but now, we can speculate, and speculate. Let the fun begin.