Satya Nadella: Is Microsoft's new CEO too much of an insider?

Gauging the reaction to the new Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella. 

AP
The first move of Satya Nadella, the new CEO of Microsoft, will likely be revealing Microsoft Office for iPad.

Microsoft has announced it will hand the reins of the company to longtime executive Satya Nadella, thus ending a search that began last August.

In a letter to Microsoft employees, Mr. Nadella said it was an "incredible honor for me to lead and serve this great company of ours," and hinted that his focus would be on further developing Microsoft's cloud-computing and mobile businesses. 

So how has news of Nadella's promotion been received by investors and tech industry insiders?

Well, it's a mixed bag. On the one hand, as Daniel Ives, a managing director at FBR Capital Markets, recently told MarketWatch, "It’s a sigh of relief that this elongated process is over. It was widely viewed that Nadella would be the guy so investors should not be surprised." 

And Nadella has received glowing marks from a range of current and former CEOs, including Michael Dell and Jack Welch, who hailed Nadella's track record at Microsoft. (Nadella is perhaps best known for helping massively boost the company's server business.) Nadella "knows the business and has watched the moves for years has best chance to win," Mr. Welch said

But his stature as a Microsoft insider can cut both ways. As Peter Cohan of Forbes writes this week, considering the range of prominent non-Microsoft execs said to be in the running for the job, the selection of Nadella feels like a "compromise." 

Meanwhile, over at the Guardian, Heidi Moore points to Nadella's first memo, which indicates that the new CEO will lean heavily on the expertise of Gates and John Thompson, the new chairman of Microsoft's board – and the head of the search committee that selected Nadella for his new gig. 

"This is not what Wall Street wants to hear, and it's Wall Street – and its powerful pressure of the dollar – that has been the audience for Microsoft's narrative so far," Ms. Moore notes. "Analysts won't be convinced that Nadella means change at Microsoft until he bites the hands that fed him the executive suite. They want Nadella to get distance from his predecessors, not pull them closer." 

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