The rise of Satya Nadella, the game-changing CEO of Microsoft

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Satya Nadella Microsoft AP Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

When Satya Nadella first took the reins as Microsoft CEO in February 2014, the company was losing steam fast.

Microsoft Windows 8 had been a disaster. Microsoft employees were constantly battling behind the scenes for supremacy. And all the while, consumers and developers alike were losing the faith.

Times change.

Now, in 2016, Microsoft has found its groove again as a company that provides software and services to everyone, on any device - and once-skeptical investors now believe the turnaround is real .

There's still a lot that Microsoft needs to do. But take a look back at the life and career of Satya Nadella, the CEO who's making it all happen.

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Satya Narayana Nadella was born in Hyderabad, India, in 1967. His dad was a civil servant and his mother was a professor of the ancient language Sanskrit.

Satya Narayana Nadella was born in Hyderabad, India, in 1967. His dad was a civil servant and his mother was a professor of the ancient language Sanskrit.

From a young age, Nadella wanted to be a professional cricket player, and played in school. But he realized that his athletic talent was outmatched by his passion for science and technology.

From a young age, Nadella wanted to be a professional cricket player, and played in school. But he realized that his athletic talent was outmatched by his passion for science and technology.

Nadella received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineer from the Manipal Institute of Technology in 1988. "I always knew I wanted to build things," Nadella once said.

Nadella received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineer from the Manipal Institute of Technology in 1988. "I always knew I wanted to build things," Nadella once said.

But they didn't have a real computer science program, so he traveled to the US to attend University of Wisconsin-Milwalkee, where he graduated in 1990.

But they didn't have a real computer science program, so he traveled to the US to attend University of Wisconsin-Milwalkee, where he graduated in 1990.

Now in the United States, Nadella would go on to work for Sun Microsystems, the legendary Silicon Valley computer server company.

Now in the United States, Nadella would go on to work for Sun Microsystems, the legendary Silicon Valley computer server company.

In 1992, Nadella joined Microsoft. At the time, founder Bill Gates was still CEO, and Windows had just begun its march to world domination.

In 1992, Nadella joined Microsoft. At the time, founder Bill Gates was still CEO, and Windows had just begun its march to world domination.

Nadella was one of only around 30 Indian immigrants working at the company. His first projects included Microsoft's ill-fated interactive TV product and the Windows NT operating system.

Nadella was one of only around 30 Indian immigrants working at the company. His first projects included Microsoft's ill-fated interactive TV product and the Windows NT operating system.

During his first years at Microsoft, Nadella impressed his coworkers and managers alike by commuting every weekend from Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Washington, all the way to the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business to finish his MBA. He'd finally graduate in 1997.

During his first years at Microsoft, Nadella impressed his coworkers and managers alike by commuting every weekend from Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Washington, all the way to the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business to finish his MBA. He'd finally graduate in 1997.

In 1999, Nadella landed his first executive role as vice president of Microsoft bCentral, a set of web services for small businesses that included hosted website hosting and email.

In 1999, Nadella landed his first executive role as vice president of Microsoft bCentral, a set of web services for small businesses that included hosted website hosting and email.

In 2000, Microsoft got its second CEO: Steve Ballmer.

In 2000, Microsoft got its second CEO: Steve Ballmer.

In 2001, Nadella rose to corporate VP of Microsoft Business Solutions. The group had been formed through a series of acquisitions, including Great Plains, which made accounting software for small and midsize businesses. The group was also building a cloud-based CRM system to compete with Salesforce. Eventually all these products would be rebranded as "Dynamics."

In 2001, Nadella rose to corporate VP of Microsoft Business Solutions. The group had been formed through a series of acquisitions, including Great Plains, which made accounting software for small and midsize businesses. The group was also building a cloud-based CRM system to compete with Salesforce. Eventually all these products would be rebranded as "Dynamics."

Nadella's star just kept rising: By 2007, Nadella was senior VP of Microsoft Online Services, which meant that he was in command of the Bing search engine, as well as early online versions of Microsoft Office and the Xbox Live gaming service.

Nadella's star just kept rising: By 2007, Nadella was senior VP of Microsoft Online Services, which meant that he was in command of the Bing search engine, as well as early online versions of Microsoft Office and the Xbox Live gaming service.

In February 2011, Nadella would get another promotion, this time to President of the Server and Tools Division. At the time, that group oversaw cash cow products for companies' data centers, like Windows Server and the SQL Server database. But it also hosted one of Ballmer's boldest gambles, the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

In February 2011, Nadella would get another promotion, this time to President of the Server and Tools Division. At the time, that group oversaw cash cow products for companies' data centers, like Windows Server and the SQL Server database. But it also hosted one of Ballmer's boldest gambles, the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

When Nadella took over the Server and Tools business, it was doing $16.6 billion in revenue. By 2013, that was up to $20.3 billion.

When Nadella took over the Server and Tools business, it was doing $16.6 billion in revenue. By 2013, that was up to $20.3 billion.

By this point, Microsoft was running into trouble. On the PC side, Windows 8 was a disaster, the iPhone and Android were outrunning the iPhone by leaps and bounds, and Bing just couldn't make a dent in Google's search dominance. And Ballmer took the heat.

By this point, Microsoft was running into trouble. On the PC side, Windows 8 was a disaster, the iPhone and Android were outrunning the iPhone by leaps and bounds, and Bing just couldn't make a dent in Google's search dominance. And Ballmer took the heat.

In August 2013, an embattled Ballmer announced that he'd be stepping down, prompting a search for a new CEO. The search committee included Ballmer himself and Bill Gates.

In August 2013, an embattled Ballmer announced that he'd be stepping down, prompting a search for a new CEO. The search committee included Ballmer himself and Bill Gates.

In February 2014, after much rumor and speculation, it was announced that Nadella would get the nod as the new CEO, with the support of Ballmer and Gates.

In February 2014, after much rumor and speculation, it was announced that Nadella would get the nod as the new CEO, with the support of Ballmer and Gates.

To entice Nadella to take the role, Microsoft's board approved an $84 million first-year compensation package.

To entice Nadella to take the role, Microsoft's board approved an $84 million first-year compensation package.

Nadella sent an email to employees when he first took the job.

Nadella sent an email to employees when he first took the job.

It said: "I am 46. I've been married for 22 years and we have 3 kids. And like anyone else, a lot of what I do and how I think has been shaped by my family and my overall life experiences. Many who know me say I am also defined by my curiosity and thirst for learning. I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete. I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things. So family, curiosity and hunger for knowledge all define me. "

Nadella has also compared programming code to poetry.

Nadella has also compared programming code to poetry.

"You’re trying to take something that can be described in many, many sentences and pages of prose, but you can convert it into a couple lines of poetry and you still get the essence, so it’s that compression. The best code is poetry," he said to Politico.

Nadella quickly won over Microsoft employees by making big changes, quickly, in an effort to right the course and win back customers.

Nadella quickly won over Microsoft employees by making big changes, quickly, in an effort to right the course and win back customers.

That includes once-unthinkable things like embracing the rival Linux operating system on the Microsoft Azure cloud...

That includes once-unthinkable things like embracing the rival Linux operating system on the Microsoft Azure cloud...

...releasing Microsoft Office for the Apple iPad...

...releasing Microsoft Office for the Apple iPad...

...spending $2.5 billion to buy Mojang, the studio behind hit game Minecraft...

...spending $2.5 billion to buy Mojang, the studio behind hit game Minecraft...

...releasing first-class iPhone and Android apps like Microsoft Outlook...

...releasing first-class iPhone and Android apps like Microsoft Outlook...

...skipping Windows 9 to go straight to the actually super great Windows 10...

...skipping Windows 9 to go straight to the actually super great Windows 10...

...introducing the Microsoft Surface Book, the company's first-ever laptop...

...introducing the Microsoft Surface Book, the company's first-ever laptop...

...and, oh yeah, revealing the Microsoft HoloLens, the company's super-futuristic holographic goggles.

...and, oh yeah, revealing the Microsoft HoloLens, the company's super-futuristic holographic goggles.

Nadella's whole philosophy is around partnering and making sure that Microsoft software and services are available wherever customers are — even if that's not Windows. That's why his first big hire was ex-Qualcomm exec Peggy Johnson, now Microsoft VP of Business Development, to help partner up with outside companies.

Nadella's whole philosophy is around partnering and making sure that Microsoft software and services are available wherever customers are — even if that's not Windows. That's why his first big hire was ex-Qualcomm exec Peggy Johnson, now Microsoft VP of Business Development, to help partner up with outside companies.

In fact, in 2015, Nadella used an iPhone on stage at an event to show off his favorite Microsoft apps.

In fact, in 2015, Nadella used an iPhone on stage at an event to show off his favorite Microsoft apps.

So, yeah. Nadella's been busy. But investors love it: From 2014 to 2015, his first year, Microsoft stock jumped 14%. And then jumped another 21% in 2015.

So, yeah. Nadella's been busy. But investors love it: From 2014 to 2015, his first year, Microsoft stock jumped 14%. And then jumped another 21% in 2015.

Employees love him, too, talking about how he's brought the company together to tackle tough and worthwhile issues.

Employees love him, too, talking about how he's brought the company together to tackle tough and worthwhile issues.

Going into 2016, Nadella still has plenty of challenges to tackle. Microsoft still struggles in the smartphone market. Shrinking PC sales are hampering Microsoft's Windows 10 ambitions. And the Xbox One video game console is struggling against the competing Sony PlayStation 4.

Going into 2016, Nadella still has plenty of challenges to tackle. Microsoft still struggles in the smartphone market. Shrinking PC sales are hampering Microsoft's Windows 10 ambitions. And the Xbox One video game console is struggling against the competing Sony PlayStation 4.

But for the first time in a long time, things are looking up for Microsoft.

But for the first time in a long time, things are looking up for Microsoft.
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