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Under Nadella, Microsoft goes hard to reach $2 trillion valuation

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WASHINGTON: Microsoft on Thursday became only the second US company after Apple to reach a $2 trillion valuation, sticking another feather in the cap of its Indian-American CEO Satya Nadella after he was appointed chairman of the company — only the second in its history after Bill Gates — last week.
The Seattle giant joined the elite club — in which the third and only other member is Saudi Aramco — even as it unveiled its updated Windows 11 operating system amid a relentless run up in technology stocks. Microsoft is trailed by Amazon and Google (both with market cap of $1.7 trillion) in the Trillion dollar club, and its astonishing growth is largely credited to Nadella’s vision after he took over in 2014 when the company was considered moribund in many quarters.
Microsoft’s valuation was less than $400 billion when Nadella became CEO in 2014, and its five-fold increase has been powered by venturing into new areas such as cloud computing and machine learning. While it took Microsoft 33 years to reach its first $1 trillion in 2019, more than doubling from the time Nadella became the head honcho, the next trillion has taken Microsoft only two years.
To put its growth in perspective, its current valuation is 2/3rds the combined market cap of all Indian companies (currently at $3 trillion). The company has gained 20 per cent this year alone, outperforming Apple and Amazon, and market mavens are declaring that Nadella the #1 CEO in America. CEOWorld magazine ranked him second behind JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon in 2020. Wall Street Journal referred to him as the “King of Microsoft.”
Low-key and soft-spoken, the Hyderabad-born Nadella, who did his engineering from the Manipal Institute of Technology, is a poetry and cricket enthusiast who makes light of his achievements while speaking in philosophical undertones, including, according to one account, alluding to Schopenhauer in his recent Windows 11 presentation.
Asked in a recent interview about his decision-making framework, he said, “It starts with mission, it ends with culture, and in between [there is] what’s our worldview, what’s our strategy. I think of the things that are constant as that sense of purpose and mission and culture, and the things that are temporal are worldviews and strategies.”
But under his leadership, Microsoft has grown beyond its original business and is seen as outgunning higher profile companies such as Amazon (in cloud computing). It is now challenging Apple with its ramped up Windows 11, its first major operating system revamp since Nadella took over.
“Windows has always stood for sovereignty for creators and agency for consumers, and with Windows 11 we have a renewed sense of Windows’ role in the world,” Nadella tweeted on Thursday, in what analysts saw as a shot across the bow of Apple, which has been under fire for the way it treats developers.

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