Microsoft at middle age: Bloomberg interviews Satya Nadella

Kellogg Brengel

Satya Nadella sat down with Dina Bass for Bloomberg Businessweek to discuss where the company is headed and his perspective on Microsoft’s transformation. Ever since he first took the helm of the Redmond Washington based tech company, Nadella has spoken of turning Microsoft into a mobile-first, cloud-first company. Now, two and a half years into his tenure as CEO, we are beginning to see what shape the company is taking and the fruits of the transformation.

Earlier this year we summarized Nadella’s progress changing not just the direction of the company but also the culture and mindset. Dina Bass’s interview with Nadella dives into what Nadella focuses on in his role as the CEO behind this transformation.

Businessweek Nadella Interview
Bloomberg Businessweek cover for their interview with Satya Nadella, via Bloomberg Businessweek

She asked Nadella questions like “As Microsoft enters middle age, what do you want this company to be?”, “Is it hard to change the culture at such a big company?” and “Is the cloud the big technological change that we’re going to see over the next five years?”

In his responses, Nadella talks repeatedly of Microsoft’s shift in focus to cloud computing and building its Azure business. Even though this shift is quite different Microsoft’s historical business model, Nadella feels “any company that has had tremendous success should be mindful that early success or big success can get in the way of creating new success.”

Bass asks if cloud-based computing will cannibalize Microsoft’s historic profit centers. But Nadella responds saying the shift in business models is a “massive total addressable market expansion” that increases Microsoft’s “ability to add more value to our customers.”

Nadella discussing Conversation as a Platform at Build 2016

Nadella talks about this value creation later on in the interview in more human terms. He sees Microsoft’s shift to technologies like cloud computing, Conversation as a Platform, and machine learning as a force to democratize computing for every type of person across the globe.

Nadella also explains how he distills Microsoft’s internal cultural overhaul. He breaks it down to his approach every day to being of a “learn-it-all” mindset and not get stuck in a “know-it-all” mentality. He explains:

I need to be able to walk out of here this evening and say, “Where was I too closed-minded, or where did I not show the right kind of attitude of growth in my own mind?” If I can get it right, then we’re well on our way to having the culture we aspire to.

Nadella also responded to a question about Microsoft’s recently announced acquisition of LinkedIn. He responds saying he is “very, very bullish” on the merger despite Microsoft’s past with large acquisitions He explains by comparing the LinkedIn purchase to his other big acquisition, Mojang, the makers of Minecraft. He sees both of these companies as having momentum that aligns with core parts of Microsoft.

There are also some personal stories Nadella includes about life lessons as a CEO, the future of Augmented Reality, and metrics he looks at to track how much time he spends on different tracks. To hear more you can read the full interview here.