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Microsoft hopes new, old leaders can rekindle magic

Published on Feb 5, 2014 10:24 AM
Mr Satya Nadella, Microsoft's new chief executive, will have to take on the monumental task of exploring new directions for a struggling software behemoth - but with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates as his consigliere, and on a strategy that his predecessor, Mr Steve Ballmer, orchestrated with the board. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SEATTLE (REUTERS) - Microsoft is betting a mix of old and young blood will revive the aging technology pioneer, but new chief executive Satya Nadella may find it tough to push change with co-founder Bill Gates and former CEO Steve Ballmer breathing down his neck.

The 46-year-old India native and former enterprise business chief takes on the monumental task of exploring new directions - but with Mr Gates as his consigliere, and on a strategy that Mr Ballmer orchestrated with the board. That uphill endeavour helped sour other candidates on the job, including proven change agent Alan Mulally at Ford Motor, sources have said.

Mr Gates is giving up the board chairmanship to fellow director John Thompson. That, plus Mr Nadella's promotion, marks a changing of the guard at a 39-year-old company that fuelled the PC revolution, but is struggling with its longer-term identity after missing the boat on the mobile computing revolution.

"You've got a triumvirate running the company: Satya as the new CEO, Bill as the product adviser and John Thompson running the board. A lot depends on how the three of them get along," said Mr Bill George, Harvard Business School professor and former Medtronic CEO. "The big question I have is: Is Satya really going to be allowed to make the transformative changes that Microsoft needs to make, both at the product level and at the people level?"

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