Microsoft has named Satya Nadella as its new Chief executive officer. Company founder Bill Gates is leaving the chairman role for a new role as technology adviser.
Nadella will become only the third leader in the software giant’s 38-year history, after Gates and Ballmer. Board member John Thompson will serve as Microsoft’s new chairman.
Nadella, who is 46 and has worked at Microsoft for 22 years, has been an executive in some of the company’s fastest-growing and most profitable businesses, including its Office and server and tools business.
For the past seven months, he was the executive vice president who led Microsoft’s cloud computing offerings. That’s a new area for Microsoft, which has traditionally focused on software installed on personal computers rather than on remote servers connected to the Internet.
The company said that Gates, in his new role as founder and technology advisor, “will devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction.”
Gates will also remain a member of Microsoft’s board.
Founded in April 1975 by Gates and Paul Allen, the company has always made software that powered computers made by others — first with its MS-DOS system, then with Windows and its Office productivity suite starting in the late 1980s. Microsoft’s coffers swelled as more individuals and businesses bought personal computers.
But Microsoft has been late adapting to developments in the technology industry. It allowed Google to dominate in online search and advertising, and it watched as iPhones, iPads and Android devices grew to siphon sales from the company’s strengths in personal computers. Its attempt to manufacture its own devices has been littered with problems, from its quickly aborted Kin line of phones to its still-unprofitable line of Surface tablets.