Microsoft’s shareholders meeting this morning in Bellevue, Wash., is a reflection of the dramatic change that has taken place over the past year at the company.
For the first time in years, neither Bill Gates nor Steve Ballmer is on stage. The meeting was opened with a polished presentation from Microsoft chairman John Thompson, standing in front of a professional wood-grained stage backdrop rather than the normal plain black curtains.
During his remarks to the audience, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talked about his vision for the company, pointing in particular to the growth of Microsoft Azure and cloud services as a sign of where Microsoft is headed.
Former Microsoft CEO Ballmer is sitting in the audience, sipping on a Starbucks drink — the company’s largest individual shareholder but no longer even a member of the company’s board.
Sitting next to Ballmer is not Bill Gates, but rather the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was given the opportunity to make an extended statement on the company’s diversity initiatives — praising its efforts compared to other technology companies, but also pressing Microsoft to do more. Nadella promised to continue to release diversity data, and Thompson said the board would also consider new diversity initiatives.