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The Digital Future
Tue February 11, 2014
What New CEO Satya Nadella's Microsoft Might Look Like
With the promotion of Satya Nadella to CEO and Bill Gates as technology advisor, Mark says his prediction is about halfway to fruition.
Here’s what Mark finds encouraging:
1. New Power Structure
“The idea that you’ve got a new CEO who’s a tech guy — that’s great. And you’ve actually got Bill coming back as a tech guy again. That’s good. So you have two tech guys at the top, which is a new power structure, kind of new/old,” he said. “And Satya’s not done yet. I have a feeling he’s going to make some other structural announcements in the near future.”
2. Emphasis on ‘Mobile First, Cloud First’
Mark says he’s curious to see how Nadella embraces a mobile-first strategy.
“We need to see what his plan is for a mobile-first, cloud-first strategy,” he said. “He’s not a cellphone guy; he’s really the back-end guy. He’s a server, data center kind of guy.”
Will Nadella lead Microsoft toward more innovation?
“I think he’s capable of inventing some things. He’s a smart guy,” said Mark. “He seems to have a history of being willing to take risk, but not too much of a risk. And that’s not bad for a CEO, particularly, probably, coming from the enterprise side.”
Mark says we might see some surprises from Nadella.
“I think we might see him move in ways that’s important, necessary and perhaps couldn’t have happened before," he said.
4. The So-Called Redmond Bubble
The Redmond bubble is a term Mark uses to refer to the way a team can keep its members from thinking outside the box, "to not feel as though you’ve got it all figured out."
Historically, says Mark, this has been a problem for Microsoft.
“They will launch and say, ‘This is OK enough. This is great. This is perfect.’ And the rest of the world takes a look and goes, ‘Well, it’s not really a 10x improvement, so we’re not impressed,” he said. “It would be really great for the company if Satya or if somebody else could come in and say, ‘Look, let’s not ship something that’s just good enough … but let’s actually do something that’s user-driven or which is user-delightful, which is something Steve Ballmer used to talk about doing.”
Will Nadella Succeed?
Mark thinks Nadella just might be the solution to the very complex equation that is Microsoft.
"He’s smart. He’s probably not going to be too intimidated. And he’s able to deal with people in a non-aggressive way, which allows them to mix and match. And that’s kind of going to be critical for the CEO of Microsoft," he said. "If you combine that with his intelligence and his willingness to try something new, you might have the only way to do this right."
The Digital Future