Microsoft is reportedly about to end its five-month search for a tech-savvy heavy-hitter to head the world’s largest software company.
Sources said it is set to appoint Satya Nadella, the head of its cloud-computing and enterprise division, as the next chief executive.
Th 46-year-old has worked for Microsoft for 22 years.
Current CEO Steve Ballmer plans to retire as soon as a new boss is named.
He was reelected to Microsoft’s board in November, but it’s not clear how long he will remain there after retirement.
At the same time co-founder Bill Gates may step aside as chairman and be replaced by lead independent director John Thompson, sources have said. Gates would remain a director.
If Nadella is picked it would make him the most powerful Indian-born tech executive in the world .
Born in 1967 and educated in India and the United States, Nadella’s tech career started at internet software pioneer Sun Microsystems.
He joined Microsoft in 1992 and quickly climbed the corporate ladder with leading roles in the Office and Bing search-engine teams.
He was promoted to run the company’s server and tools unit in 2011. That unit now forms the backbone of Microsoft’s cloud-computing platform, which Nadella runs under his official title of executive vice president, cloud and enterprise.
“He’s a solid choice,” offering continuity of strategy and proven execution, said Sid Parakh, an analyst at fund firm McAdams Wright Ragen.
The choice could disappoint some investors who want a more radical transformation at the software giant.
While many on the Street are now expecting Mr. Nadella to get the CEO spot, we believe filling this position with a core Microsoft insider will disappoint those hoping for a fresh strategic approach (e.g. potential breakup of enterprise/consumer, Xbox spin off) an outside executive could have brought to the table,” FBR analyst Daniel Ives said in a research note, adding that innovation and fresh strategies were needed.
“With that said, we believe Mr. Nadella’s prior roles in the Online Services Division, Business Division and most recently as president of the Server and Tools business position him as a strong internal candidate with a broad set of knowledge around Microsoft’s massive product portfolio,” Ives wrote.