Only a scant few hours after Microsoft announced it was appointing longtime company executive Satya Nadella as the company’s third CEO, a standing-room-only crowd of employees cheered him on at a rally on the Microsoft campus.
The hundreds of employees were packed several layers deep, lining stairways and hallways on multiple floors as they gazed at the atrium where Nadella, Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates and John Thompson, board chairman, spoke.
Former CEO Steve Ballmer introduced Nadella, describing him as thoughtful, cool, deep, passionate and someone who thinks things through.
“Under Satya’s leadership, I feel very confident about the company’s future,” Ballmer said, praising the company’s leadership team as well as all its employees.
Looking at the sea of smartphones being held up by employees to take pictures of the event, Gates joked: “I’m impressed with the share of Windows Phone here.”
Gates acknowledged that the company faces some challenges — most notably that people are increasingly in the cloud and using mobile devices.
“We’ve got a slice of it but not as big as slice as we need,” he said.
Gates praised Nadella as someone who is decisive and is “great at drawing out the best in people.”
John Thompson, who is replacing Bill Gates as board chairman as Gates steps down to spend more time advising Nadella at Microsoft, said the CEO search — which started in August — was one of the more extensive for a chief executive.
“No one could be more happy to see this day come than me,” he said.
Finally, Nadella took the stage to loud cheers and applause, as well as a holler or two of “Good job, bud!”
“I’m honored, humbled, excited,” Nadella said.
He emphasized again what seems to be his focus going forward: cloud and mobile.
“We now need to make Microsoft thrive in a mobile-first, cloud-first world,” he said.
Nadella also struck a more emotional tone, talking about how he wanted his employees to find deep meaning in their work.
He is at Microsoft, he said, for the same reason the other employees are: To make a difference and to change the world.
Technology changes the world — the way people live, work and play.
He urged employees to find “that emotional connection with your work because of the impact” the work has on those outside the comopany.
After the event, several employees were enthused by their new CEO.
“He’s great,” said Nidhi Gupta, programmer writer in SharePoint. “He has vision and he’s excited about things.”
Puneet Sethi, a software engineer with Windows Phone, said he likes that Nadella “knows the company. He knows where to take the company.”