Microsoft’s mission is to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” and Satya Nadella made sure to deliver that message to thousands of students on Wednesday in Seattle.
The Microsoft CEO spoke on stage this morning at We Day Seattle, an event co-sponsored by Microsoft that celebrates youth empowerment.
This was Nadella’s first time speaking at We Day Seattle — former CEO Steve Balmer did so in 2013 — and he admitted some nerves as he took the stage in front of 15,000 screaming students inside a lively Key Arena.
“The energy and passion makes me nervous,” Nadella said. “And in fact, my daughter is right here — I don’t know where she is, but oh my gosh, I’ve never spoken in front of her.”
Nadella carried forward Microsoft’s official mission statement that he put in place this past June, encouraging the students to go use technology to help achieve their dreams.
“When I think about what you all represent, the power that you all have to change not only your schools, but communities and society, that is what gets me excited,” Nadella said.
The CEO referenced Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen, who grew up in Seattle.
“In fact, the very founding of Microsoft can be traced back to two kids finding their passion in high school and then going on to chase that dream,” he explained. “They changed the landscape of our industry and world as we know it. That’s the power we want to celebrate.”
Nadella, who became CEO in 2014, was then joined by Mikaila Ulmer, the 11-year-old founder of Me & the Bees, an Austin, Texas-based startup that sells organic lemonade. The energetic Ulmer talked about how she started her own company and how she uses technology to help Me & the Bees grow.
“Now I’d like to code a few apps,” she noted.
Nadella was certainly impressed, saying that he wants to “empower every student on the planet to make things and make things happen.”
“I need to brush up my resume and connect with you on LinkedIn or something,” Nadella told Ulmer. “All kidding aside, what you’ve done, going after that passion with persistence and ingenuity, is truly inspiring and I see that all over the world.”
Microsoft also today announced new YouthSpark grants to 100 non-profit organizations in 55 countries as part of its global initiative to make computer science education accessible for young students. This comes six months after Nadella announced a 3-year, $75 million YouthSpark investment to increase computer science education access and resources for students around the world.
Other celebrities that spoke at We Day today included George Takei, Paula Abdul, Ciara, Pete Carroll, and others. We Day events are attended annually by more than 200,000 students from more than 10,000 schools in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Students earn tickets to event’s like today’s in Seattle by participating in local WE Schools programs.