Satya Narayana Nadella is the chairman and chief executive officer of Microsoft. Nadella also serves on the board of trustees at his alma mater, the University of Chicago, and on the Starbucks board of directors. He is the chairman of The Business Council U.S. and previously served on the board of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Nadella is originally from Hyderabad, India, and lives in Bellevue, Washington.
Satya Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992 and was named its third CEO in February 2014. Before becoming CEO, Nadella held leadership roles in both enterprise and consumer businesses across the company. Nadella was also executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group. In this role, he led the transformation to the cloud infrastructure and services business, which outperformed the market and took a share from the competition. Previously, Nadella led R&D for the online services division and was vice president of the Microsoft business division.
Nadella's business philosophy involves making sure that Microsoft software and services are available wherever customers are, even if that's not Windows and means partnering with other companies. For example, his first big hire was ex-Qualcomm exec Peggy Johnson, who became Microsoft's VP of business development to help build partnerships with outside companies. And in 2015, Nadella used an iPhone on stage at an event to show off his favorite Microsoft apps.
Nadella's accomplishments as CEO have included the following:
- Embraced the rival Linux operating system on the Microsoft Azure cloud
- Released Microsoft Office for the Apple iPad
- Bought Mojang, maker of Minecraft, for $2.5 billion
- Released first-class iPhone and Android apps like Microsoft Outlook
- Released Windows 10
- Introduced the Microsoft Surface Book, the company's first-ever laptop
- Introduced the Microsoft HoloLens, the company's super-futuristic holographic goggles
- Acquired Nokia’s phone business for $7.2 billion
- Oversaw the 2016 purchase of the professional network LinkedIn for $26.2 billion
Satya Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992 and was one of only approximately thirty Indian immigrants working at the company at that time. His first projects included Microsoft's ill-fated interactive TV product and the Windows NT operating system. In 1999, Nadella landed his first executive role as vice president of Microsoft bCentral, a set of web services for small businesses that included website hosting and email. In 2001, Nadella rose to corporate VP of Microsoft Business Solutions, a group that had been formed through a series of acquisitions, including Great Plains, which made accounting software for small- and mid-size businesses. The business solutions group was also building a cloud-based CRM system to compete with Salesforce. Eventually, all these products would be rebranded as Dynamics. By 2007, Nadella was senior VP of Microsoft Online Services, which included the Bing search engine, early online versions of Microsoft Office, and the Xbox Live gaming service.
In February 2011, Nadella was promoted to president of the Server and Tools Division, which oversaw products for companies' data centers, like Windows Server and the SQL Server database, and hosted the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. When Nadella took over the server and tools business, it was doing $16.6 billion in revenue. By 2013, that was up to $20.3 billion.
In 2013, Microsoft was running into trouble. Windows 8 was having issues, the iPhone and Android were outrunning the Windows Phone, and the Bing search engine could not compete with Google. Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer took the blame and announced that he would step down in August 2013. In February 2014, Microsoft announced that Nadella would become the new CEO with the support of both past CEOs, Ballmer and Bill Gates.
Satya Nadella published his book, Hit Refresh, in 2017.
He began writing his book in 2015 with the goal of inspiring people to discover more empathy in their own lives. The title refers to clicking on the refresh arrow in a web browser to update the page. Nadella believed "hit refresh" was the perfect metaphor for the three storylines of his book—his own personal journey, Microsoft's ongoing transformation, and the coming wave of technological and economic change.
Regarding the book, Nadella stated,
At the core, Hit Refresh is about us humans and the unique quality we call empathy, which will become ever more valuable in a world where the torrent of technology will disrupt the status quo like never before.”
In 2022, Satya Nadella received the Padma Bhushan award, the third-highest civilian award in India, and was recognized as a Global Indian Business Icon at CNBC-TV18's India Business Leader Awards (IBLA) in Mumbai in 2020. In 2019, Nadella was named Financial Times Person of the Year, Fortune magazine Businessperson of the Year, and ranked sixth on the Forbes list of innovative leaders. In 2018, he was named a Time 100 honoree and ranked fortieth on the Forbes 2018 list of powerful people. In 2014, he was a Carnegie Great Immigrants recipient.
Before joining Microsoft, Nadella was a member of the technology staff at Sun Microsystems. He joined the company after finishing his master's degree in computer science in 1990. He worked there for two years before joining Microsoft in 1992 as a Windows NT developer.
Satya Nadella attended the Hyderabad Public School growing up and earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Manipal Institute of Technology in 1988. He earned a master's degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee in 1990 and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Chicago in 1996.
Satya Nadella was born in Hyderabad, India, in 1967. His father's family belongs to the Brahmin community and comes from the Bukkapuram village, Anantapur district, Rayalaseema region, Andhra Pradesh. His father, Bukkapuram Nadella Yugandhar, was an IAS officer, which is a civil servant, and his mother, Prabhavati Yugandhar, was a professor of the ancient language Sanskrit at Tirupati's Padmavathi College.
Satya Nadella married Anupama in 1992 and had three children—a boy and two girls.
In 1996, they had their first child, a boy they named Zain, who has severe cerebral palsy. Nadella has stated that becoming a father of a son with special needs was a turning point in his life that shaped who he is today.
It has helped me better understand the journey of people with disabilities. It has shaped my personal passion for and philosophy of connecting new ideas to empathy for others. And it is why I am deeply committed to pushing the bounds on what love and compassion combined with human ingenuity and passion to have impact can accomplish with my colleagues at Microsoft.
Zain passed away at age twenty-six on February 28, 2022.