Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella are top contenders to be the next CEO of Microsoft

Will become the 3rd CEO of Microsoft.

By Deepak Chitnis

Sundar Pichai (courtesy of Google+)
Sundar Pichai (courtesy of Google+)

WASHINGTON, DC: Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai are the top choices to become the next Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Microsoft.

Initial reports said that Nadella was a lock to become the CEO of the IT giant, insinuating that the only thing stopping Microsoft from making a formal announcement were several behind-the-scenes formalities that needed to occur. Now, however, it seems that Sundar Pichai, the head of Google Chrome and Apps is set to take the job, with Microsoft conducting active negotiations with him and an announcement forthcoming.

The person Microsoft names as its next chief will become just the third CEO in the company’s history, joining the short lineage comprised of just Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. The latter announced last August that he would be stepping down from his position within the following 12 months, leading to an intense search for who would replace him at the top of one of the world’s largest IT and software firms.

Originally from India, Pichai earned his bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur, where he earned the institute’s Silver Medal, a highly distinguished honor. He then earned his master’s degree from Stanford University and his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. At the latter institution, he was decorated as a Siebel Scholar and a Palmer Scholar, two of the school’s highest honors.

Pichai was hired by Google in 2004, and has spent the last decade developing the company’s Chrome browser into one of the most popular in the entire world. He has also overseen the development of some of the company’s most highly used and well-regarded apps, particularly Google Maps and Gmail.

Satya Nadella (courtesy of Microsoft)
Satya Nadella (courtesy of Microsoft)

Since last year, Pichai has been at the helm of Google’s Android operating system, which is the cornerstone of the company’s smartphone business sector and is the biggest competition Apple and their iPhone’s iOS system. The 42 year-old Google executive has a wife and daughter, and is also on the board of directors for a handful of smaller IT companies, such as Ruba Inc. and Jive Software.

Satya Nadella is the current executive vice-president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group. The 46 year-old native of Hyderabad has been with the company for over 20 years now, and countless media reports and unconfirmed sources within Microsoft all fingered Nadella for the CEO opening.

Nadella, who was born Satyanarayana Nadella in 1967, attended Hyderabad Public School in his home city before going to the Manipal Institute of Technology in Karnataka, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in electronics and communications engineering. His further education came from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he earned his master’s degree in computer science, and an additional master’s degree from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, this time in business administration.

After a brief stint working at Sun Microsystems, Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992. Originally hired as a program manager for the Windows Developer Relations group, Nadella consistently moved up the ranks every few years, progressing to oversee Windows software development and, eventually, their Bing search engine, Azure cloud-based technology service, and the company’s prize SQL [Structured Query Language] database.

Microsoft’s cloud technology is now being utilized in nearly all of the company’s big-name products, including Bing, Office 365, and the XBOX One (as well as its XBOX Live online gaming counterpart). Known as the company’s “cloud guru,” Nadella has been directly responsible the cloud division’s rapid growth over the last several years. Since taking over the division in 2011, it has grown from about $16.6 billion to $20.3 billion, or just over 22% as of last June.

Nadella lives in Washington state, where Microsoft is famously headquartered. He lives with his wife, who he met during his days at Hyderabad Public School, and two young daughters.

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