Challenging times call for a full reboot of the system.
Alas, all that Microsoft got in its new leader was a minor update.
Satya Nadella, a Telugu bidda who studied at a capitation fee college (Manipal Institute of Technology) and bears a lackluster record, has been named the new CEO of Microsoft.
Nadella, 47, also got a seat on Microsoft’s board.
Nadella – Not the Right Man
I cannot think of a single big achievement to Satya Nadella’s credit.
Only a long, undistinguished career at Microsoft (22 years).
In my not so humble view, longevity should never be a criterion for picking a leader.
I’ve heard tortoises live for more than 200 years (How sad that Robert Clive’s pet tortoise Adwaita died a few years back in Kolkata….Otherwise it would have given Nadella a tough challenge). 😉
Nadella has never headed a large corporation and during a long stint at Microsoft only managed a division here or a group there.
Microsoft’s huge failures in mobile, search and the slowing down in PCs desperately called for a leader from outside the computer industry to shake things up, bring a fresh perspective and revamp the company.
Remember how in the 1990s IBM saved itself by bringing in the outsider Lou Gerstner.
By reducing the company’s reliance on hardware and pushing aggressively into services, Gerstner saved IBM.
Au contraire, by appointing an unimpressive insider like Satya Nadella, Microsoft missed a golden opportunity to reboot itself.
When the urgent need of the hour is for a transformational leader, Microsoft got, at best, an incremental leader.
Mobile & Search – Hard Challenges
These are tough times for Microsoft.
Apple, Google and a gazillion startups have stolen Microsoft’s thunder over the last decade.
When all the action is happening in the mobile arena, Microsoft’s mobile products like smartphones and tablets have been late to the game, its products are shoddy, and developers have largely stayed away (Microsoft is forced to pay money to developers to write mobile apps for its junk).
Result – Few takers for Microsoft’s Surface tablets and Windows smartphones and huge losses running into hundreds of millions of dollars.
Apple and Google have been the two biggest beneficiaries of Microsoft’s failures in mobile and search.
As if the failures in mobile and search were not bad enough, the PC business is in doldrums thanks in part to Microsoft’s universally loathed Windows 8 operating system.
Nadella – Big Failure
Besides an unimpressive record, one of Nadella’s biggest failures at Microsoft was his stewardship of the company’s search engine Bing.
Nadella headed engineering for Bing for three years and did little to dislodge Google from its perch as the leader of search.
Thanks in part to Nadella’s poor leadership, Bing is a crappy product that few people use unless it comes as a default search engine on their PC or mobile device.
The difference between Bing and Google is like the difference between Raghunandan Yandamuri and Mahatma Gandhi.
If Microsoft’s big-mouth failure Steve Ballmer is praising him (“I know that Satya is the right leader at the right time for Microsoft”), then you can be sure Nadella is not the right man for the job.
Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992 and was previously Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group.
Before joining Microsoft, Nadella worked for a short while at the failed Silicon Valley server and workstation company Sun Microsystems (now part of Oracle).
Besides a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, Nadella holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and a MBA from the University of Chicago.
Nadella is heterosexual and has three children.
If you ask me, I give Nadella no more than two or three years before the Telugu bidda is given the boot.
By that time, it might be too late to reboot Microsoft.