Microsoft names CEO Satya Nadella chairman of the board


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at the Microsoft Build developer conference in Seattle in May 2019. (GeekWire File Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Microsoft announced Wednesday that CEO Satya Nadella will take take on the dual role of chairman of the company’s board, replacing independent director John Thompson.

“In this role, Nadella will lead the work to set the agenda for the board, leveraging his deep understanding of the business to elevate the right strategic opportunities and identify key risks and mitigation approaches for the board’s review,” Microsoft said in a news release.

The elevation was a unanimous election by the board’s independent directors. Thompson will become lead independent director, a role he held previously from 2012 to 2014. He will “retain significant authority including providing input on behalf of the independent directors on board agendas, calling meetings of the independent directors, setting agendas for executive sessions, and leading performance evaluations of the CEO,” Microsoft said.

Nadella, 53, first joined Microsoft in 1992 and was named CEO in February 2014, at the same time that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates stepped down as chairman of the board.

Gates left the board last March, 45 years after co-founding the software giant with childhood friend Paul Allen. Fallout from Gates’ recent divorce announcement revealed that he left the board after allegations surfaced that he had an inappropriate relationship with an employee.

Under Nadella, Microsoft has regained its stature as a tech powerhouse, making headlines for acquisitions of companies such as LinkedIn and GitHub, putting focus on the company’s cloud computing business, making accessibility and equity a leading platform of the company’s culture, and avoiding the antitrust scrutiny that has plagued rivals Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook.

Microsoft is the second most valuable company in the world behind Apple.

“Success is important, but you have to remember that your success has to have come from some sense of purpose,” Nadella said in an interview with GeekWire in 2019.


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