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Originally published Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 5:18 PM

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Editorial: Microsoft and new CEO Satya Nadella look ahead

Microsoft looked inside to find new leadership for the 21st century. The company and region are eager for Satya Nadella to lead the way.


Seattle Times Editorial

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SATYA Nadella’s appointment as Microsoft’s new chief executive officer provides him with something he has a demonstrated capacity for using: opportunity.

His employment with Microsoft dates back to the era of Windows 3.1 and is as contemporary as leadership of the company’s Cloud and Enterprise division.

Times reporter Janet Tu provided a, well, window into this respected engineer with first-rate business credentials. Nadella is little known to us outside the tech world, but he was a solid, popular choice within the company.

The selection of a longtime corporate insider to energize Microsoft knitted a few eyebrows. Is Nadella the CEO who can help the company break through the siloed culture of closely held operating and business groups?

Nadella’s insider knowledge of the frustrated potential within the company can empower efforts to move it ahead. Who better to know what has not been done and what needs to be done to propel good ideas forward, and provide them with necessary support?

The board emphasized the need for change with the appointment of new Chairman John W. Thompson.

Microsoft and its founders helped put a personal computer on every desk and in every home. The technical and marketing challenge has been to make Microsoft crazy cool with new generations of mobile and tablet consumers, while also serving businesses through software and cloud services.

Nadella’s greatest strength might well be his combination of demonstrated technical savvy, business experience and the humble capacity to let others shine.

Running a company the size of Microsoft with its global reach and presence does, of course, mean relying on others. But it also means listening to others, and embracing a measure of entrepreneurial risk within a nearly four-decades-old business.

Microsoft is a leader in public service, advocacy for education, immigration reform and for transparency in the murky world of the NSA. Those laudable efforts need to be sustained. The company could stand to improve by committing to transparent, stronger fair labor conditions for Chinese factory workers who make its devices.

Microsoft is leading corporate America by promoting an Asian American to the CEO office and an African American to the chairmanship. Such diversity is rare in the leadership ranks of major U.S. companies.

America wants to believe it remains the land of opportunity. Nadella and Microsoft can help make it so.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).




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