Satya Nadella rumoured to be taking up Microsoft CEO role

Mark Leiser: I am a PhD Candidate in Cyber Law at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. I have written submissions for the Leveson Inquiry into the culture and ethics of the media and for the Scottish Parliament on the use of social media during trials. My PhD is supervised by Professor Andrew Murray at the London School of Economics and focuses on the effectiveness of cyber-regulation. My research and interests revolve around main areas of Internet law and policy including internet governance & regulation, democracy, social media, privacy, and intellectual property. My PhD research focuses on developing a system of modelling to measure the effectiveness and legitimacy of Internet Regulation. I write in a personal capacity.

Rumours are flying around cyberspace that the man responsible for bringing the latest generation of Microsoft’s computer platforms to fruition is set to be named as the next CEO of the company. Satya Adella, an executive vice-president with the Redmond, Washington company is rumoured to be the next in line to take over from Steve Ballmer after he was ousted last year.

Nadella’s team is responsible for Microsoft's developer tools and cloud OS. His vision for the future of Microsoft seems to be enshrined in the concept of data grabbing and computing platforms that use the data to deliver products formed from data. A strong advocate of cloud-based services, his team is behind a cloud service worth in excess of $1.5bn to Microsoft. In a presentation made last year, he indicated that the future of the company would be determined by successful categorisation of existing products and those under development, adding that products like XBOX and Surface are still in development and "we don't know what they are yet. We don't know whether XBOX is a stand alone gaming system or a cloud gaming service". If Nadella is appointed to the role, it will be a move away from Steve Ballmer's heavily criticised style of aggressive sales techniques and will be seen as an appointment more in the mould of Bill Gates, a type of brainy technologist that many claim Microsoft is in desperate need of.

His division has won plaudits for its approach to developing cloud services that innovate across a broad array of products while competing against frontrunners like Google and Apple. A pioneer of the emerging cloud business, he speaks like a man who spends a great deal of time thinking about where Microsoft is going to be in three, five and ten years from now and seems determined to steer the company towards not only focusing on its ability to develop products, but products that are coupled with customer engagement for any newly developed technology.

Nadella is a believer in the digitisation of everything, and is also a believer in the massive growth in IT spend as a percentage of GDP. He has identified two types of IT spend - those companies trying to squeeze more out of existing hardware and software, and IT spend in new technology. While Microsoft may grab revenue share in the compression of IT spend, he wants the company to focus on grabbing product share in new developments. He also believes that it is not enough to survive through the efficiency found in 'old' products, but that more revenue will come from getting customers to engage in new products. Interestingly, Nadella identifies Amazon and Google as Microsoft’s competitors, and distances himself from competing with traditional competitors like Apple and Oracle. If his appointment is confirmed then this may be a strong indicator as to where the company is going to develop further: the cloud.

He openly advocates for the US government to make amends for the perceived abuses of NSA surveillance and has called for reform of the surveillance apparatus to respect individual privacy of not only US citizens, but citizens of the globe. With trust in American IT companies at an all-time low thanks to the revelations made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Nadella has called this reform an essential element required to ensure the growth of the American IT industry and a crucial part of Microsoft’s ability to continue competing in the global marketplace.

In the past, Nadella has held various roles within the company from president of the Server and Tools business, senior vice president of R&D for online services and vice president of the Microsoft Business division. Microsoft is refusing to confirm or deny his appointment as CEO.

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