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Report: New Microsoft CEO Stirs Executive Pot
Report: New Microsoft CEO Stirs Executive Pot

By Jennifer LeClaire
March 3, 2014 12:56PM

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By assuming control of Microsoft's image, CEO Satya Nadella is taking a page out of the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs' playbook. Because former CEO Steve Ballmer didn’t make early moves there were years Microsoft was treading water or unable to execute. Nadella doesn’t want to make that mistake, so he’s putting loyal people in critical positions.
 


Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new CEO, hasn’t even broken in his office yet -- but he’s already shaking up the C-suite. In a move to spur growth, Nadella is shuffling management and putting former political operative Mark Penn in the chief strategy officer seat, according to Bloomberg.

Citing “people with knowledge of the matter,” Bloomberg reports Tony Bates, who was passed over for the CEO job, is leaving the company and Eric Rudder, the head of advanced strategy, is taking Bates’ job. Tami Reller, the executive vice president in charge of marketing, is also leaving the company, Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela is taking her place.

“Our industry does not respect tradition -- it only respects innovation,” said Nadella, who started his career as a member of the technology staff at Sun Microsystems before joining Microsoft in 1992. “The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must move faster, focus and continue to transform. I see a big part of my job as accelerating our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly.”

An Insider’s View

We asked Rob Enderle, a principal analyst at The Enderle Group, for his thoughts on the shakeup. He told us it appears Nadella is working on key problems he has seen as a company insider.

“One of the advantages of an insider is they tend to come into the job understanding what some of the issues are,” Enderle said. “They are in a position to make some critical staffing changes so problems that their predecessor had don’t fall back on their plate.”

Former CEO Steve Ballmer, the second-ever Microsoft chief who tried to fill co-founder Bill Gates’ shoes, took a different approach. When he came on board, he essentially tried to run Gates’ Microsoft. Only later did he make changes. Enderle thinks that was a mistake.

A Steve Jobs-Like Move

“Clearly, Ballmer did not have control over Microsoft’s image. It looks like Nadella is moving aggressively to make sure he gets that control. If he doesn’t do that, it really doesn’t matter what else he does,” Enderle said. “He won’t be viewed favorably.”

Nadella is taking at least one page out of the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ playbook. Jobs took control of Apple’s image when he returned for a second stint in the chief’s chair and proved wildly successful. Indeed, the rest is history.

“A lot of internals don’t make these types of moves and that’s almost always a mistake,” Enderle said. “Because Ballmer didn’t make early moves there were years when the company was treading water or unable to execute. Nadella doesn’t want to make that mistake, so he’s putting people in critical positions that will be loyal to him.”
 

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