Microsoft hopes new, old leaders can rekindle magic

Tue Feb 4, 2014 6:34pm EST
 
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By Bill Rigby

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp is betting a mix of old and young blood will revive the aging technology pioneer, but new Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella may find it tough to push change with co-founder Bill Gates and former CEO Steve Ballmer breathing down his neck.

The 46-year-old India native and former enterprise business chief takes on the monumental task of exploring new directions - but with Gates as his consigliere, and on a strategy that Ballmer orchestrated with the board.

That uphill endeavor helped sour other candidates on the job, including proven change agent Alan Mulally at Ford Motor Co, sources have said.

Gates is giving up the board chairmanship to fellow director John Thompson. That, plus Nadella's promotion, marks a changing of the guard at a 39-year-old company that fueled the PC revolution, but is struggling with its longer-term identity after missing the boat on the mobile computing revolution.

"You've got a triumvirate running the company: Satya as the new CEO, Bill as the product adviser and John Thompson running the board. A lot depends on how the three of them get along," said Bill George, Harvard Business School professor and former Medtronic Inc CEO.

"The big question I have is, is Satya really going to be allowed to make the transformative changes that Microsoft needs to make, both at the product level and at the people level?"

Microsoft shares closed 0.4 percent lower at $36.35 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday.

The new Microsoft focuses on "devices and services" rather than licensing software, and seeks to emulate Apple's success in marrying popular online services with attractive gadgets.   Continued...

 
Satya Nadella, executive vice president of Microsoft�s Cloud and Enterprise group, is seen in this undated Microsoft handout photograph released on February 4, 2014. REUTERS/Microsoft/Handout via Reuters