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Was Microsoft choice for CEO a safe bet?

Modified: February 5, 2014 at 6:57 pm •  Published: February 5, 2014
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After compiling a list of more than 100 CEO candidates, Microsoft settled on Satya Nadella a home-grown leader who joined the software maker in the early 1990s.

Tuesday’s hiring of Nadella as Microsoft’s CEO after a five-month search is a safe move that’s likely to be greeted with sighs of relief around the company’s Redmond, Wash. headquarters, industry analysts say. But the methodical, almost predictable decision is likely to reinforce perceptions that Microsoft Corp. is a plodding company reluctant to take risks as it competes against younger rivals who relish going out on a limb.

While Google founder and CEO Larry Page boasts about his company taking “moon shots” and Zuckerberg promises to “move fast and break things,” Microsoft has fallen behind the technological curve after underestimating the importance of Internet search more than a decade ago and reacting slowly to the rise of mobile devices during the past seven years. Meanwhile, the sales of personal computers running on Microsoft’s Windows software are shrinking.

Microsoft’s malaise may have narrowed the field of up-and-coming visionaries interested in running the company.

‘Going back to the dark ages’

Just as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs would never have considered working at IBM Corp. in the 1980s, today’s entrepreneurial whiz kids scoff at Microsoft’s overtures.

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