The Will, with disappearing old guard, Satya Nadella break up the Microsoft behemoth soon enough, if any? [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Feb 5, 2013] issue cannot be understood properly without understanding the significance of the change at the board chairmanship of the company. Otherwise misunderstandings will be rampant, like Microsoft May Be Undermining Nadella By Bringing Back Gates [a Forbes columnist, Feb 5, 2014], despite more reasonable opinions, like A Different Gates Is Returning to Microsoft [a columnist of The New York Times, Feb 5, 2014].
The most appropriate report of this another appointment is in John W. Thompson Replaces Bill Gates as Chairman of Microsoft Board [BLACK ENTERPRISE, Feb 6, 2014]:
An industry leader for more than 40 years, he has made phenomenal strides in technology, having served as the only African American leading a major tech company during his time at Symantec. The Florida A&M and MIT alumnus is credited with growing the software giant’s revenues from $632 million to $6.2 billion and leading the growth of its worldwide workforce to more than 17,500 employees.
Thompson has served as an independent director on the board of Microsoft and also brings his experience as a former vice-president at IBM to his current post.
An early innovator and investor in tech advances in Silicon Valley, Thompson has also been included among Black Enterprise’s “100 Most Powerful African Americans in Corporate America,” and was named “Corporate Executive of the Year” as head of Symantec in 2004.
The West Palm Beach, Fla. native was recognized early for his knack for sales and has had a go-getter approach to his advancement. In a recent New York Times article, Thompson shared the following on career and business lessons he’s learned through the years: “First, never take yourself too seriously, or work is boring. Next, people make the difference. You can have great technology, but if it’s not complemented by great people, it won’t go anywhere. Finally, customers buy from people they like. I can always circle back to former customers and suggest they might want to take a look at our products.”
Microsoft Chairman John Thompson on CEO Satya Nadella [Microsoft Feb 14, 2014]
See also: John W. Thompson [Wikipedia article]
Before the chairman position he was the lead independent director of Microsoft, i.e. the lead director (lead of the group of other independent directors as well) representing the interests of independent shareholders: Director Video Series: John W. Thompson shares insights and experiences as Microsoft Director [originally aired on Microsoft’s Channel 9 on Aug 7, 2013; republished on YouTube EPC Group.net channel on Oct 23, 2013]
He and his new role were characterized in the South Florida-raised John Thompson named Microsoft chairman [MiamiHerald.com, Feb 5, 2014] article as:
Thompson’s new role, analysts and industry experts said, is a signal that the company hopes to help reinvigorate its sluggish business by injecting some of Silicon Valley’s cutting-edge innovation.
“Thompson is a very well and deeply respected guy and his experience, plus his connections with the tech ecosystem in the Valley and elsewhere, will be invaluable for Satya,” said John Connors, Microsoft’s chief financial officer from 1999 to 2005, who now is a managing partner with Ignition Ventures.
While a CEO generally handles a corporation’s daily operation, a chairman, which is generally not a full-time job, has considerable responsibility because the board he or she heads oversees the top executives, including the CEO, and has ultimate responsibility for the company’s performance.
Industry experts view the leadership change as a determined effort by the Redmond, Wash., company’s board to move more quickly into mobile devices and other growing markets so the company can regain its former stature. Microsoft has been hard-hit by the declining personal-computer market, which depends largely on its software.
And for Thompson … being handed the chairmanship represents a crowning achievement in his long and lustrous career.
“This is the capstone, the cherry on top,” said technology analyst Charles King. “I don’t know where you go after this. He’s a good man and a very able leader, and he should be exactly what Microsoft needs at this time.”
Other analysts said Microsoft’s board is eager to borrow ideas from Silicon Valley and that Thompson is the perfect person to help it do that.
“They are going straight to a core Silicon Valley executive to be chairman, and I think part of that speaks to where the technology trend is going in terms of mobile,” said FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives. Noting that Thompson headed Microsoft’s search for a new CEO, Ives added that it’s likely Thompson will be heavily involved in making sure the company “is ready for this next phase of growth.”
Microsoft officials said Thompson was not available for interviews. But in a video on the company’s website, he addressed a stockholder concern that Microsoft hasn’t been performing up to expectations.
“As part of my new role,” he said, “one of my key contributions, I hope, will be to engage with shareholders and keep focused on how together we can bring great innovation to the market and drive strong, long-term shareholder value.”
Thompson, one of the few African-American CEOs in technology, was raised in West Palm Beach by a teacher and a postal worker. He played clarinet and saxophone in school, earning a band scholarship that sent him to college in Missouri. But he wanted to study business, telling interviewers later that he noticed the most successful adults he knew in the African-American community were small-business owners. He transferred to Florida A&M, graduating in 1971 with a bachelor’s in business.
- Tech Makes the World Go Round [November 25, 2013]
- Tearing Down IT Silos [October 28, 2013]
- The Manufacturing Renaissance and the Middle Class [September 30, 2013]
- Tap Into the Light [September 04, 2013]
- Data Center Consolidations: Lessons Learned Along the Way [August 15, 2013]
- Casting an IT blockbuster [August 08, 2013]
- Is your company still relevant? Will it be tomorrow? [July 25, 2013]
- Competing in the global marketplace [July 08, 2013]
- STEM education and immigration reform are opposite sides of the same coin [June 26, 2013]
- Embracing digital technologies and building an agile infrastructure [June 20, 2013]
- The age of data: strategies for response [June 14, 2013]
- The unintended consequences of IT transformations [June 05, 2013]
But he is still an excellent entrepreneur by heart:
IT Press Tour ’11 John W. Thompson CEO Virtual Instruments March 31st, 2011 [Philippe Nicolas YouTube channel, May 23, 2011]
Exactly at that time came the news that Forbes Names Virtual Instruments the Third Most Promising Company in America [press release, Feb 6, 2013] recognized for company growth and management team among the Top 100 private companies (when it achieved $41M revenue with 230 employees).
He is ecxellent technically as well:
John W. Thompson, Virtual Instruments – VMworld 2011 – theCUBE [SiliconANGLE YouTube channel, Sept 12, 2011]
John W. Thompson, CEO of Virtual Instruments met with SiliconANGLE founder John Furrier and Wikibon Co-Founder Dave Vellante at VMworld 2011 to discuss virtualization and what his company does. Thompson opened the interview with the following statement: “What’s clear is that the economics around virtualization are proving to be true.” He went on to say that while VMware was undoubtedly a leader in the x86 environment, the virtualization phenomena is spreading across all the layers of the stack. The storage layer, the switch layer, and the server layers are all being virtualized. And while the concept of virtualization isn’t new, having it applied to all of those tiers is, in fact, a new trend. It gives customers better economics, but also new challenges to deal with, particularly around performance and availability management.
Thompson gave some history as to how Virtual Instruments (VI) evolved and explained what VI’s technology does. He said their focus is on monitoring the end to end transaction performance of a given set of I/O activities from the virtual server through the switch fabric, to the array and back. He said that as environments become more virtualized, there is a more critical need for deep level performance monitoring capability. He said, “Our technology peers in very deeply, and gives you granular latency level performance insight that no other vendor in the industry provides.”
Thompson used PayPal as an example of one of VI’s most impressive deployments. PayPal’s head of storage infrastructure said that prior to VI, they would experience one to two outages a year, and since they implemented VI’s technology, they have had no outages at all. Thompson attributed that to ” . . . the insight we give them on where problems might be looming, that they can take corrective actions on before they become an outage.”
Thompson emphasized that VI is a monitoring company — they don’t do configuration management or capacity planning. He explained that VI’s tools complement what the customer already has. Thompson said he doesn’t view them trying to expand into those aforementioned spaces either because their focus is already a big enough problem for customers that will provide them with plenty of room for growth.
Thompson discussed the announcements VI made at VMworld 2011, which centered around their next generation software platform, Virtual Wisdom 3.0, as well as their next generation hardware platform, which consists of an 8gb fibre channel probe that attaches between the switch fabric and the storage array to give customers real-time monitoring capabilities.
BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR HIS CURRENT MICROSOFT ROLE IS HIS QUITE WELL PROVEN LEADERSHIP COMPETENCY:
Some of Thompson’s top leadership adages back from 2003 (his leadership adages at Symantec):
- You Cannot Stop Spending on Innovation
- Envisioning the Future
- Customers Must Drive Your Business Model
- Stick to Core Mission, Focus, and Keep It Simple
- Customer Diversity is Essential
- You Measure What Matters
John Thompson [Symantec] : You Cannot Stop Spending on Innovation [Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Stanford University, recorded on May 28, 2003; re-published on ecorner YouTube channel, Aug 2, 2011]
John Thompson [Symantec] -Envisioning the Future [Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Stanford University, recorded on May 28, 2003; re-published on Entrepreneurship.org YouTube channel, Aug 28, 2013]
John Thompson [Symantec] -Customers Must Drive Your Business Model [Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Stanford University, recorded on May 28, 2003; re-published on Entrepreneurship.org YouTube channel, Aug 28, 2013]
John Thompson [Symantec] -Stick to Core Mission, Focus, and Keep It Simple [Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Stanford University, recorded on May 28, 2003; re-published on Entrepreneurship.org YouTube channel, Aug 28, 2013]
John Thompson [Symantec] -Customer Diversity is Essential [Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Stanford University, recorded on May 28, 2003; re-published on Entrepreneurship.org YouTube channel, Aug 28, 2013]
John Thompson [Symantec] -Measuring Success: You Measure What Matters [Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Stanford University, recorded on May 28, 2003; re-published on Entrepreneurship.org YouTube channel, Aug 28, 2013]
Microsoft Adds New Board Member [press release, Feb. 20, 2012]
John W. Thompson, CEO of Virtual Instruments and former CEO of Symantec, to join board.
Microsoft Corp. today announced that John W. Thompson, chief executive officer of privately held Virtual Instruments and former chairman and CEO of Symantec Corp., was appointed to the company’s board of directors, returning the board’s size to 10 members.
“John has extraordinary technology and business expertise, and we are delighted that he is joining Microsoft’s board of directors,” said Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman.
Thompson currently serves as CEO of Virtual Instruments, a privately held company located in San Jose, Calif., whose products are designed to ensure the performance and availability of applications deployed in virtualized and private cloud computing environments. Since 2009, Thompson has been an active investor in early-stage technology companies in Silicon Valley.
Thompson served as chairman and CEO of Symantec Corp., helping transform Symantec into a leader in security, storage and systems management solutions. During his 10-year tenure as CEO from 1999 to 2009, Symantec’s revenues grew from $632 million to $6.2 billion, and its worldwide workforce grew to more than 17,500 employees. Thompson stepped down as CEO of Symantec in 2009, and stepped down from Symantec’s board of directors in 2011.
Previously, Thompson held a number of leadership positions at IBM, including sales, marketing, software development and general manager of IBM Americas. He was a member of IBM’s Worldwide Management Council.
“John brings a wealth of experience, from enterprise customers to individual consumers, as well as the insights that come from running a successful large global software company and a fast-emerging startup. He will be a great addition to our board,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft chief executive officer.
“I am honored to join the Microsoft board and work with this exceptional team,” Thompson said. “Microsoft has been a leader across the entire information technology landscape for decades, and I look forward to sharing my experiences and contributing to the future direction and growth of this global leader.”
Thompson currently serves on the board of United Parcel Service, and he has served on a number of government boards and commissions, including the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee, and the Silicon Valley Blue Ribbon Task Force on Aviation Security and Technology. He formerly served on the national board of Teach for America, an organization dedicated to eliminating educational inequities for all children.
He received a bachelor of business administration from Florida A&M, and a master’s degree in management from the Sloan Fellows program of the MIT Sloan School of Management.
In addition to Thompson, Microsoft’s board of directors consists of Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman; Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO; Dina Dublon, former chief financial officer of JPMorgan Chase; Raymond V. Gilmartin, former chairman, president and CEO of Merck & Co. Inc.; Reed Hastings, founder, chairman and CEO of Netflix Inc.; Dr. Maria M. Klawe, president, Harvey Mudd College; David F. Marquardt, general partner at August Capital; Charles H. Noski, vice chairman of Bank of America Corp.; and Dr. Helmut G. W. Panke, former chairman of the board of management at BMW AG.
John W. Thompson, Chairman [Microsoft, Feb 4, 2014]
John W. Thompson joined the Microsoft Board in February 2012 and became independent chairman of Microsoft Corporation on Feb. 4, 2014.
Thompson is the chief executive officer of privately held Virtual Instruments, whose products are designed to ensure the performance and availability of applications deployed in virtualized and private cloud computing environments. Thompson is also the former chairman and CEO of Symantec Corp.
Since 2009, Thompson has been an active investor in early-stage technology companies in Silicon Valley.
During his 10-year tenure as CEO of Symantec, he helped transform the company into a leader in security, storage and systems management solutions. Thompson stepped down as CEO in 2009, and stepped down from Symantec’s board of directors in 2011.
Previously, Thompson held a number of leadership positions at IBM, including sales, marketing, software development and general manager of IBM Americas, and was also a member of IBM’s Worldwide Management Council.
He has served on a number of government boards and commissions, including the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee, and the Silicon Valley Blue Ribbon Task Force on Aviation Security and Technology. He formerly served on the national board of Teach for America, an organization dedicated to eliminating educational inequities for all children. He has also served on the boards of NIPSCO (Northern Indiana Public Service Company), Fortune Brands, Seagate Technologies, and UPS.
Thompson received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Florida A&M, and a master’s degree in Management from the Sloan Fellows program of the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Microsoft Board names Satya Nadella as CEO [press release, Feb. 04, 2014]
Bill Gates steps up to new role as Technology Advisor; John Thompson assumes role as Chairman of Board of Directors.
Microsoft Corp. today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Satya Nadella as Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors effective immediately. Nadella previously held the position of Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group.
“During this time of transformation, there is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella,” said Bill Gates, Microsoft’s Founder and Member of the Board of Directors. “Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision and the ability to bring people together. His vision for how technology will be used and experienced around the world is exactly what Microsoft needs as the company enters its next chapter of expanded product innovation and growth.”
Since joining the company in 1992, Nadella has spearheaded major strategy and technical shifts across the company’s portfolio of products and services, most notably the company’s move to the cloud and the development of one of the largest cloud infrastructures in the world supporting Bing, Xbox, Office and other services. During his tenure overseeing Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business, the division outperformed the market and took share from competitors.
“Microsoft is one of those rare companies to have truly revolutionized the world through technology, and I couldn’t be more honored to have been chosen to lead the company,” Nadella said. “The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform. A big part of my job is to accelerate our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly.”
“Having worked with him for more than 20 years, I know that Satya is the right leader at the right time for Microsoft,” said Steve Ballmer, who announced on Aug. 23, 2013 that he would retire once a successor was named. “I’ve had the distinct privilege of working with the most talented employees and senior leadership team in the industry, and I know their passion and hunger for greatness will only grow stronger under Satya’s leadership.”
Microsoft also announced that Bill Gates, previously Chairman of the Board of Directors, will assume a new role on the Board as Founder and Technology Advisor, and will devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction. John Thompson, lead independent director for the Board of Directors, will assume the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors and remain an independent director on the Board.
“Satya is clearly the best person to lead Microsoft, and he has the unanimous support of our Board,” Thompson said. “The Board took the thoughtful approach that our shareholders, customers, partners and employees expected and deserved.”
With the addition of Nadella, Microsoft’s Board of Directors consists of Ballmer; Dina Dublon, former Chief Financial Officer of JPMorgan Chase; Gates; Maria M. Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College; Stephen J. Luczo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Seagate Technology PLC; David F. Marquardt, General Partner at August Capital; Nadella; Charles H. Noski, former Vice Chairman of Bank of America Corp.; Dr. Helmut Panke, former Chairman of the Board of Management at BMW Bayerische Motoren Werke AG; and Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of Virtual Instruments. Seven of the 10 board members are independent of Microsoft, which is consistent with the requirement in the company’s governance guidelines that a substantial majority be independent.