Satya is the Right Guy

Microsoft is now the most valuable company in the world. Was that predictable 6 years ago?

In 2014 the era of Steve Ballmer at Microsoft ended. For quite a while this transition was incoming and Microsoft's search for a proper successor spawned many questions and speculations. Weird names and interesting alternatives have been coming and going all the time. One of the most strangest proposals was that the CEO of Ford (Alan Mulally) should become CEO of Microsoft. This one actually was (at least among popular media) so popular that I got the impression that is indeed the potential successor.

At this time I was worried a lot about Microsoft. Being German means being critical - but I could see the value that Microsoft brought, still brings, and can still deliver in terms of high-quality software and information processing. Hence I felt nervous for them back then.

Luckily, out of a sudden Microsoft announced that Satya Nadella would take over. At this time a name mostly unknown to me - but from the initial announcement a quick research revealed: this is the best decision ever made. This is a prime example of what a big company should do. This is great. Needless to say: That day I bought a (for my personal dimensions) giant pile of Microsoft stock that I still hold today.

Why was this one of the simplest investments I have ever done? Obviously, a lot can go wrong. You never know. But at least the basic foundation should be right. In this case everything was right. Microsoft has top employees. They are agile in their mind and heart. They adjust to the situation. When they see the right thing they go for it. This is a major difference to many other companies that (unfortunately) have mostly mediocre stuff not willing to change things and do the actual work of building something new.

But every foundation needs a vision to follow and a strong leadership. A technology company leads a technology-driven leader. Satya is 100% fitting. He has clear business goals, but he also wants to have the best solution. The equation is simple: If you have a mediocre solution you may win via your great marketing, or some other side-effect. If you have a great solution, a great market position, and great marketing - then there is nothing that can go wrong.

A technology company needs to be innovative. Yes, the business models need to be right and efficiency should also be okay-ish. But at the end of a day a technology company is selling technology. Once its not innovative it will slowly go down until its just one of many. Apple can tell that story (again) these days.

My great fear was that a golf playing buddy of whomever (having a place on the Microsoft board) will take over Microsoft - a guy with only a business perspective. Don't get me wrong - that can work out under certain circumstances, but in general it won't. Fortunately, Ballmer knew what was needed to give Microsoft the right boost. And here we are today - when the market has also accepted this truth.

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