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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

December 3, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella set to lead first shareholders meeting

The venue of Microsoft’s shareholders’ meeting — Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center — will be the same as last year.

The rest is something of an open question as the company continues to stride into the post-Ballmer era with Satya Nadella’s first annual meeting at the helm.

Here are a few things to watch for in the parade of speakers and Q&A:

The vibe. Microsoft, with a soaring stock price and new-CEO-fueled corporate confidence boost, is riding pretty high these days. That hasn’t always been the case when it comes time for Microsoft to face its shareholders. Are the individual stock owners who make up the bulk of the meeting’s audience happy with the truckload of cash Microsoft has given back in the last couple years? Or eager for more?

Product updates. Windows 10, scheduled to launch sometime in the latter half of next year, is the elephant in the room. The tech blogosphere has suggested a consumer preview may arrive as early as next month.

Look out for further updates on Microsoft’s progress in cloud computing. Wall Street has come to expect a lot of Microsoft’s cloud, and the company may feel some pressure to keep the upbeat anecdotes coming.

Say on pay. Warm feelings about the first 11 months of Nadella’s tenure aside, some aren’t happy with the $90.8 million he (technically) received in compensation in the last fiscal year.

Citing a large multi-year stock payment to Nadella, shareholder advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services recommended investors vote no on Microsoft’s executive pay package.

The average technology firm’s pay package was approved by 88.7 percent of shareholders in the last year, according to Radford, a technology and compensation consulting firm owned by Aon Hewitt. If Microsoft’s is approved by much less than that — especially if it nears the 70% line ISS draws as the bar between acceptable and worrying — it could be a black eye for Microsoft.

Microsoft’s pay package was approved by shareholders last year with more than 95 percent voting yes or abstaining, according to ISS.

It’s rare that a majority of shareholders reject executive pay packages outright. And the votes, mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, are symbolic referendums anyway.

Jesse Jackson. The civil rights activist plans to make Microsoft the latest stop in his campaign to encourage technology companies to look beyond their white, male roots for talent. Jackson met with Nadella and other Microsoft executives earlier this week, and was invited to speak at the meeting.

The votes. In addition to the referendum on pay, shareholders will vote to approve Microsoft’s board of directors. There’s also a shareholder proposal, which isn’t expected to pass, to widen the rights of shareholders to nominate board members. And last but not least, the ever-exciting poll on whether to approve Microsoft’s auditing firm, Deloitte.

Follow along. Microsoft will be streaming the meeting, which starts at 8 a.m., here. I’ll also be tweeting up a storm.

Comments | More in Microsoft | Topics: compensation, microsoft, satya nadella

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