Microsoft has officially announced its third CEO. Satya Nadella, the executive vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise group, will take over the reins of the company immediately.
Nadella will replace Steve Ballmer, who announced his retirement in August 2013. The appointment follows months of speculation about Ballmer's successor. Among the rumored candidates for the position was Stephen Elop, who was said to be interested in selling off the Xbox division. Others believed that Bill Gates would return to the CEO role or that Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg would get the nod.
The Internet, of course, wanted Gabe Newell to be CEO. Sorry, fellas.
"During this time of transformation, there is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella,” said Gates in the official press release. "Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision and the ability to bring people together. His vision for how technology will be used and experienced around the world is exactly what Microsoft needs as the company enters its next chapter of expanded product innovation and growth."
Gates, meanwhile, is moving into a different role with the company. He will serve as a Technology Advisor to Nadella and help him chart out the direction of the company's products. John Thompson will replace Gates as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Nadella first joined Microsoft back in 1992. Prior to heading up the Cloud and Enterprise group, he led research and development for the Online Services division. He previously served as vice president of the Microsoft Business Division as well.
In his first letter to the company as CEO, Nadella pledged that innovation would be the company's top priority in this "software-powered world."
"As we look forward, we must zero in on what Microsoft can uniquely contribute to the world," Nadella said. "The opportunity ahead will require us to reimagine a lot of what we have done in the past for a mobile and cloud-first world, and do new things. We are the only ones who can harness the power of software and deliver it through devices and services that truly empower every individual and every organization. We are the only company with history and continued focus in building platforms and ecosystems that create broad opportunity."
Microsoft and Nadella have their work cut out of them. The Windows operating system was once ubiquitous but now only holds about 19% of the consumer market according to Goldman Sachs. Microsoft is also a distant third place in mobile market share behind Google and Apple, though some believe they could pass Apple in time.
It's unclear what, if any, changes Nadella's appointment will bring to the Xbox One and Xbox 360. Some analysts believed that the company would sell off the console vision because of its heavy costs. Still, the Xbox One had a strong debut last fall and should sell millions of additional units throughout 2014 thanks to new releases like Titanfall and the next Halo. I doubt Microsoft would abandon the Xbox division now after investing all that money into designing, marketing and releasing the Xbox One.