Bill Gates only involved in Microsoft 'as much as Nadella wants him', says Chairman John Thompson

By Danny Palmer
27 May 2014 View Comments

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella won't find himself compromised by a power struggle like that which occurred between company founder Bill Gates and former CEO Steve Ballmer, which led to stalled decision making in the 2000s.

That's according to Microsoft chairman - and the man who led the search to appoint a new CEO - John Thompson, who made the comments in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

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"You would find it to be a very different environment today than it might have been a year or two ago," said Thompson.

"The employee base in Microsoft, particularly the tens of thousands of engineers we have, are ecstatic that we have someone with Satya's background leading and guiding and managing our company," he continued, adding that Nadella has the final say on how involved in decision making company founder Gates now is.

"Bill is as involved as much as Satya wants him to be," he said.

Thompson also told WSJ that the marketplace will start to become more aware of Microsoft's new direction - one which sees cloud and mobile software take centre stage - as Nadella's influence on decisions becomes more apparent over the course of this year.

"Satya is still defining and tuning what he wants the ultimate strategy of the company to be, and over the course of the next three to six months, that will clearly become more visible to the marketplace at large," he said, before describing the cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 suite as the company's "foundational offering".

Thompson also dismissed suggestions that cloud technology represents a security risk. The Microsoft chairman argued that businesses shouldn't blame technology for high profile cases of data being leaked - such as Edward Snowden releasing information stored by the US National Security Agency - but rather the individual that takes the decision to leak it.

"What the Snowden scenario proved is that the weakest link is not the technology, the weakest link is the individual, we shouldn't kid ourselves," he said.

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