WASHINGTON: The Redmond tech giant has moved to make changes quickly under new CEO Satya Nadella, trying to become more nimble and more open to the changing habits and demands of tech users.
Microsoft is wrapping up one of the busiest years it’s ever had.
A little more than a month into 2014, Microsoft announced that Satya Nadella would serve as the third chief executive in its history, taking the reins after 14 years of Steve Ballmer’s leadership.
Microsoft employees and analysts outside the company have spent most of the months since talking about how quickly the company seems to be changing course under its new leadership.
Instead of a play-by-play of Microsoft’s year that was, here’s a quick take on the main ways Microsoft looks different from how it did a year ago. (And for all the headlines about a new direction, there are a couple arenas in which the Redmond tech giant remains the same.)
In April, the company wrapped up its $7.5 billion deal to buy Nokia’s handset unit. The acquisition, the second-largest in Microsoft history, dramatically expanded the company’s footprint in the hardware business.
The aftermath of that deal — as with many corporate marriages of that scale — was characterized by layoffs. Microsoft in July said it would shed 18,000 employees, the largest layoff in company history. About 15 percent of those cuts came in the Puget Sound region, a relatively small blow given that the region was home to about a third of Microsoft’s workforce before the cuts.
Though the layoff was focused on newly redundant arms of Nokia’s business, the cuts extended to units more central to Microsoft, such as marketing and engineering roles and a research facility in Silicon Valley.
To optimists, the scale of the trimming was evidence that Nadella and finance chief Amy Hood were serious about saving money that could later be put to work in faster-growing areas of the company like cloud computing. Pessimists saw a shortsighted effort to appease Wall Street’s hunger for higher margins. And the stock rose strongly.