Microsoft chief Satya Nadella gets dual role as chairman

17 Jun 2021

Satya Nadella. Image: Heisenberg Media/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

It’s the first time in more than 20 years that the chief executive and chair roles at Microsoft have been held by the same person.

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella will be pulling double duty after being appointed chair of the tech giant.

More than seven years after taking on the reins of CEO, Nadella was unanimously elected chair of the board at Microsoft.

It is the first time since 2000 that the CEO and chair roles have been held by the same person. Founder Bill Gates held both titles until he stepped down as chief executive two decades ago.

In February 2014, Nadella was appointed chief executive after leading the company’s Azure business. His predecessor Steve Ballmer retired.

At that time, Gates stepped from his chair role – before leaving the board entirely last year – while former Symantec CEO John Thompson became chair. Thompson will now transition to a role as independent director on Microsoft’s board.

As chair, Nadella will set the agenda of the board, coupled with his day-to-day responsibilities in running the company’s operations.

“In this role, Nadella will lead the work to set the agenda for the board, leveraging his deep understanding of the business to elevate the right strategic opportunities and identify key risks and mitigation approaches for the board’s review,” Microsoft said in a statement.

The company has grown extensively and recovered much of its value under the banner of Nadella.

In recent years, the company has focused heavily on its Azure cloud business, which Nadella previously ran. In its last earnings report, Microsoft said revenue at Azure was up 50pc. In total, the company booked revenue of $41.7bn with net income of $15.5bn for the quarter.

Nadella’s next test will be the much-speculated future of Windows, the operating system that helped Microsoft dominate personal computing for decades.

Later this month, the company will be hosting an event revealing “one of the most significant updates of Windows of the past decade”. This week screenshots supposedly showing the new operating system, Windows 11, were leaked online.

Satya Nadella. Image: Heisenberg Media/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin