CEO Satya Nadella ‘won’ the right to be president

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella “earned the right” to also lead the technology giant’s board of directors, former company president John Thompson told CNBC on Wednesday.

Nadella was appointed to the additional role of president last month, taking over from Thompson, who still serves as Microsoft’s lead independent director.

“For me, I think it has more to do with the performance of the company under Satya’s leadership than anything else,” Thompson said in an interview on “TechCheck.” “I mean, in my opinion, he earned the right to be chairman of the board here.”

Nadella has helped engineer a resurgence at Microsoft since he was named CEO on February 4, 2014. Shares closed that day at $ 36.35 per share and have since risen more than 650%, depending on where you are. they were trading on Wednesday afternoon, when they also settled. a new intraday all-time high of $ 280.69.

Microsoft is now the second most valuable company in the S&P 500 behind Apple and, in late June, it closed with a market capitalization north of $ 2 trillion for the first time. As of Wednesday, the Redmond, Washington-based company was worth $ 2.1 trillion.

Nadella, who was previously the company’s chief cloud computing executive, owns more than 1.6 million Microsoft shares, according to FactSet, making him one of the company’s largest individual shareholders. His stake was worth more than $ 450 million based on Wednesday’s highest price of all time.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Corp., speaks at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Bellevue, Washington, on November 29, 2017.

David Ryder | Bloomberg | fake images

Thompson’s promotion to Microsoft president in 2014 was announced on the same day as Nadella’s promotion to CEO. Thompson was ranked first on the board of the company’s billionaire co-founder Bill Gates.

Gates left the Microsoft board entirely in March 2020. It was later made public that in 2019, the board began investigating a report that, in 2000, Gates had attempted to enter into an intimate relationship with someone from the company.

Representatives for Gates did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, an anonymous spokesperson for Gates acknowledged an affair nearly 20 years ago that ended “amicably.” The spokesperson told the Journal that Gates’s “decision to leave the board was in no way related to this matter.”

In recent years, more companies have separated the roles of president and CEO, as Wall Street pays more attention to the corporate board structure as a mainstay of ESG investing, emphasizing how companies handle environmental, social issues. and government.

Thompson, who was previously CEO of security software provider Symantec, said he will eventually have to leave Microsoft’s board, which he joined in 2012.

“I have a philosophy about board service, which is that I don’t stay on boards until I’m 90, so at some point, I will transition. The question then is, who, in fact, becomes the president? Thompson said.

“I have the feeling that there are two important issues: one, the transition to the presidency and, equally important, the transition to the next CEO,” he said. “We’re not sure when that will happen, but I want Satya to be there to handle that process just like I did in the last cycle.”

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