Six days after sharing Microsoft's blowout earnings with Wall Street in July, Satya Nadella stops to listen to a few of the more than 23,500 employees taking part in a three-day hackathon the company is hosting at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington.Read more: https://www.cnet.com/news/this-is-not-your-fathers-microsoft/
One team shows him digital tattoos made of gold leaf that's embedded with sensors. Apply these wearables to your skin and, with a tap, you one day might be able to turn on the house lights or play a tune on your digital piano. Another team tells him about a feature for the company's Seeing AI app that uses your phones' camera as an optical character recognition device, speaking menus and other text so the visually impaired can play video games.
As he walks among tables littered with laptops, soldering irons, empty cans of Talking Rain sparkling water (a Microsoft customer) and 3-inch-high silver toy robots that read "Hackathon 2018," a crowd of employees follows him like groupies at a music festival. "He's taller than I thought," one says. "Do you think he'll let us take a photo?" asks another.
Nadella dreamed up the Microsoft Hackathon, which the company calls the "largest private hackathon in the world," when he became CEO in February 2014. Just a few of the thousands of projects pitched over the past five years have inspired mainstream products. Most of these let's-change-the-world ideas aren't the kind of business tech that Microsoft makes the bulk of its money on -- at least not today.
That's just fine with Nadella, because the meetup serves another purpose: rebranding Microsoft as a modern, relevant company. When he became the third CEO of the world's largest software company, after Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, Nadella made changing Microsoft's rigid, hierarchical and arrogant culture his top priority. He sort of had to. Though arguably one of the most successful technology companies in history, Microsoft's had a string of high-profile misses in mobile, search and social networking. Additionally, the company's toxic culture, characterized by corporate politics, infighting and backstabbing, fed an image of Microsoft as a fading legend.
I think Satya is doing a good job at bringing Microsoft's clout in the tech industry back. I look forward to seeing what this company has in store for our future. While windows is my operating system of choice for working on it is the defacto standard for gaming and so will most likely always be in my life in some form. No matter how hard I've tried to get away in the past Microsoft just keeps bringing me back.
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