“We are the company that stands for builders, makers and creators.”
That’s how Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella described his company at the WSJDLive Conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. on Monday evening.
Toward the end of a wide-ranging interview with Wall Street Journal Editor Gerard Baker that touched on everything from Microsoft’s mobile mishaps to its pending LinkedIn acquisition, Nadella was asked about Microsoft’s brand.
Baker pressed Nadella, noting how many people feel like they need Microsoft’s products but not necessarily love them.
The CEO began by describing a photo Microsoft employees use internally for motivation: Someone walking out of a store with an Xbox console, hugging it.
“To me, that’s a fan of Xbox,” Nadella said. “We have brands inside of Microsoft that have fans. We have fans of OneNote. Believe it or not, we have great fans of Excel — I’m one of them.”
“The bar of consumer products in particular is such that if you don’t stand up to it — and not just once but continuously — you will get punished for it. To me, the Microsoft brand has always stood for being the company that has got a bit of a utilitarian bend to it, which I think is a good one. That’s who we are — we are the company that stands for builders, makers, and creators. That’s the brand that we want.”
Baker came back with a follow-up response, asking Nadella if it bothers him that Microsoft’s brand isn’t as well known to younger consumers as an Apple, Facebook, Google, or Amazon.
Nadella said that those customers will know Minecraft and Xbox.
“To me, having a set of brands and set of products for that demographic and especially kids and college students — it’s super important to us,” he said, adding that “I don’t want to sort of devalue a lot of other things that we do for different audiences only to the exclusion of this.”
While Microsoft’s brand may not as “popular” as other tech giants, its bottom line certainly isn’t hurting. The company beat expectations with $22.3 billion in revenue for its most recent quarter last week as its stock price reached all-time highs. Its market cap is now nearing $500 billion — third to only Apple and Alphabet as the world’s most valuable tech company.
Microsoft shares stayed relatively flat for the decade or so before Nadella took over in 2014. He’s certainly part of Microsoft’s recent resurgence of sorts, focusing on the company’s cloud computing business and helped rebuild the company’s status as a tech powerhouse. A number of stock analysts last week upgraded their outlooks on Microsoft, and MarketWatch even dubbed the company the “comeback kid.”
Nadella has also helped change the culture internally at Microsoft and he was asked about that during Monday’s interview. The CEO echoed his earlier comments about being a “learn-it-all” culture versus one that is a “know-it-all” culture.
— Angus Norton (@NortonAngus) October 25, 2016
— Greg Bensinger (@GregBensinger) October 25, 2016
Here are some other tidbits from Nadella’s interview with WSJ:
— Don Clark (@donal888) October 25, 2016
— Joanna Stern (@JoannaStern) October 25, 2016
— Rebecca Blumenstein (@RBlumenstein) October 25, 2016
Microsoft's@satyanadella on mobile: "You’ve got to be able to add unique value and be on the hunt for the next big category." #WSJDLive
— Jay Greene (@greene) October 25, 2016
— WSJ Tech (@WSJTech) October 25, 2016
— Bill Gross (@Bill_Gross) October 25, 2016