Microsoft named CEO Satya Nadella as chairman of its board in a unanimous vote on Wednesday, marking the first time in two decades that the company’s chairman will also be its CEO.
Microsoft scooped Nadella out of the company’s Cloud and Enterprise group in 2014 to step into the role of CEO, and Nadella used his time in the post to grow the company into one of the most prominent and valuable companies in the world. His appointment as chairman represents a demonstrated faith in Nadella’s leadereship at the company, particularly given the “unprecedented impact of Covid-19 on our business and our people,” Microsoft in a statement.
“In this role, Nadella will lead the work to set the agenda for the board, leveraging his deep understanding of the business to elevate the right strategic opportunities and identify key risks and mitigation approaches for the board’s review,” the company said.
Microsoft’s stock has risen by more than 600%, making it the second most valuable company in the world, trailing only Apple. Nadella himself is one of Microsoft’s most prominent individual shareholders, owning more than 1.6 million shares of the company’s stock.
Nadella will replace independent director John Thompson as chairman, a position he had held since Gates stepped aside to become a “technology adviser” in 2014. Microsoft said that Thompson will retain “significant authority including providing input on behalf of the independent directors on board agendas, calling meetings of the independent directors, setting agendas for executive sessions, and leading performance evaluations of the CEO.”
Gates, for his part, stepped down from the board entirely in 2o2o in the midst of an internal investigation into claims that he had pursued a romantic relationship with a subordinate employee at Microsoft that company officials had deemed inappropriate.