Microsoft 2.0 – A New Company Under Satya Nadella
In the late 1990s, Microsoft could do no wrong. The company, founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, was the most valuable in the world and Windows was selling like hotcakes. In December of 1999, the company even set a record by reaching nearly $620 billion in market capitalization at the height of the tech bubble.
The company would subsequently begin to lose its way. Bill Gates passed the torch to Steve Ballmer in 2000, but remained on as the Chief Software Architect until 2006. Later on that decade, Microsoft had its first negative earnings quarter in 23 years.
The new kids on the block like Apple, Google, and Facebook would surpass Microsoft in terms of the “cool” factor and become the de facto employment targets for computer science grads everywhere. They were building more innovative products, and hit the right market segments. The final blow was more recent, when Apple topped Microsoft’s record-setting market capitalization in absolute terms, though not yet from an inflation-adjusted perspective.
Criticism of Ballmer reached its pinnacle in 2012. A damning Forbes article cited Ballmer as “the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company”, claiming that he had “steered Microsoft out of some of the fastest growing and most lucrative tech markets (mobile music, handsets and tablets)”. Shortly after, Bill Gates announced as Chairman that Ballmer would leave sometime within the next 12 months.
It is since then that Microsoft has made a remarkable transition, with plenty of credit to new CEO Satya Nadella at the helm. The company, which is famously known for its fiercely uncooperative nature, has started collaborating with other large tech companies including Apple.
Microsoft’s stock is now lurking near its highest point since early 2000 and the company has new and exciting products again like the HoloLens, Windows 10, Delve, Skype translator, and Sway. Nadella is also taking the company on a journey to the hot areas of technology, such as the internet of things and wearables. It’s only a year into Nadella’s journey as CEO, but the future again looks like it could be bright.