Under Satya Nadella, Microsoft has returned to the tech elite, punctuated by the company hitting a financial milestone of a $1 trillion market capitalization for the first time. However, Nadella isn’t reveling in the news; in fact he would be “disgusted if somebody ever celebrated our market cap.”
Those comments come from a cover story in Bloomberg Business Week about how Microsoft has rebounded under Nadella from a nadir point marked by failures of key initiatives and cultural issues. Nadella has transitioned the company away from some of its legacy businesses to focus primarily on cloud computing and its boring, but profitable mission of helping companies work more efficiently.
Microsoft’s cloud division sits squarely in the number two position, trailing incumbent leader Amazon Web Services. Microsoft has become a landing spot for retailers such as Kroger and Walmart who don’t want to store their data on Amazon’s servers while also competing with the tech giant.
The effort has put Microsoft on strong financial footing. Its stock has climbed 35 percent in the last year, and it currently holds the title of the nation’s most-valuable company, beating out tech giants Amazon and Apple. However, Nadella told Bloomberg that the market cap milestones are “not meaningful” and any celebration of it would mark “the beginning of the end.”
Here are a few other interesting tidbits from the interview with Nadella:
De-emphasizing Windows: It started subtly, as one former executive put it, with Nadella simply omitting “Windows” from sentences. And his first email to employees as CEO ran more than 1,000 words without a single mention of Windows.
Windows continues to be the product most synonymous with Microsoft, and is on more than 800 million devices. But last year, in a major reorganization, Microsoft blew up its Windows division, splitting it across the Azure and Office teams, a sign of the company’s priorities for the future.
Microsoft returns to its uncool roots: Bloomberg notes that under previous CEO Steve Ballmer “Microsoft was chasing a sexy, Apple-like version of itself, and mostly failing. For every iPod, there was a Zune; for every iPad, a Surface tablet; for every iOS device, a Windows Phone.”
Nadella famously wrote off Microsoft’s smartphone division and wound down the Windows Phone operating system. Instead, the mobile focus has shifted to building apps and services that work well on both Android and iOS.
There’s been a lot of talk about Microsoft being cool again, but that’s not what the company aims for. As the company’s CTO Kevin Scott told GeekWire last year: “Our job is to make other people cool .We don’t need to be cool ourselves.”
Culture changes, but issues persist: Re-shaping company culture has become an important part of Nadella’s tenure, with a goal of wiping out the infighting that has been a hallmark of the company’s past. All signs indicate that this effort has been largely successful and played a role in turning the company around.
However, in recent months, it’s become clear that Microsoft still has a ways to go. A group of female employees recently described experiences of sexual harassment and discrimination at the company in a thread that got the attention of senior management. Last month, Nadella outlined a series of HR changes meant to rectify issues described by the employees.