After more than seven years as the company’s top executive, Microsoft named Satya Nadella as Chairman to the board of directors, bolstering his authority at the world’s largest software company.
Microsoft said on Wednesday that Nadella, 53, will succeed John Thompson. He will return to his previous job as a lead independent director, which he held before being named chairman in 2014.
The move is a statement of confidence in Nadella, who took over as CEO in February of 2014. Thompson, 72, has been reducing his responsibilities as chairman in recent years, according to Microsoft. Since last fall, the two have been talking about their new positions.
Bill Gates stood aside as chairman of the firm he co-founded when Nadella was named CEO, dramatically diminishing his role at Microsoft, and Thompson was chosen to take his place. The notion was that Nadella would benefit from Thompson’s guidance as a long-time technology executive.
During Nadella’s tenure as CEO, Microsoft has recovered from setbacks in the mobile phone and internet search markets, as well as a decline in the prominence of its flagship Windows operating system. Nadella has refocused Microsoft on cloud computing, mobile apps, and artificial intelligence while also giving the Office software business a new lease on life by moving it further to the cloud and other operating systems.
As Microsoft has been returned to the ranks of the top technology corporations, its stock has climbed more than sevenfold, and its market worth is approaching $2 trillion.
Nadella, Microsoft‘s third CEO, will also be the company’s third chairman, following Gates and Thompson. Before Nadella, Steve Ballmer was the CEO, although he never held the chairmanship because Bill Gates retained it throughout Ballmer’s tenure.
According to Microsoft, Thompson will continue to serve as a lead independent director, supervising Nadella’s salary, succession planning, governance, and board operations.