Nadella reaction: Upbeat with a touch of meh

New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

When Microsoft Corp. tapped veteran insider Satya Nadella as its new CEO on Tuesday, the Redmond elite, unsurprisingly, lined up to offer praise to the 46-year-old engineer with the cloud computing pedigree and the daunting task of running the world’s largest software maker in a time of transition.

Upbeat comments from the likes of founder Bill Gates, outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer and new board chairman John Thompson were expected, but what of the technology industry leaders and pundits not on Microsoft’s payroll?

Key industry executives are feeling at least optimistic about Nadella’s promotion; most point to his lengthy experience with the vendor and his deep knowledge of the underlying technologies and the engineering teams that create it. Analysts, on the other hand, were more measured and less glowing in their assessment — some put the choice in a continuum between safe and uninspired at a time when many feel Microsoft desperately needs bold leadership and radical change to succeed.

Here’s a sampling of what Nadella’s fellow industry execs had to say about him in statements and on social media:

“I know [Nadella] well and I know he will do a great job for Microsoft as he is a seasoned, world-class technology leader. I trust him and I know he instills trust in his customers and partners. I look forward to continuing to work with him and Microsoft.”

– John Chambers, Cisco Systems Inc. chairman and CEO

We know Satya well. His strong combination of engineering innovation and business acumen make him an outstanding choice to lead Microsoft into the future, and we look forward to working with him in his new role.”
– Michael Dell, Dell Inc. CEO

“Love the Microsoft CEO decision ..someone who knows the business and has watched the moves for years has best chance to win.”
– Jack Welch, General Electric former CEO

“We have tremendous confidence in Satya’s expertise, experience and leadership. Lenovo looks forward to many more productive, innovative and exciting years working with Microsoft to deliver outstanding products to our customers.”
– Peter Hortensius, Lenovo CTO

“The reason why I have mountains of respect for Satya is that he’s first and foremost a great and sincere and honest human being… that’s a rare thing at Microsoft.”
– Bill Hilf, VP of converged cloud products and services at Hewlett-Packard Co. and former general manager of product management for Windows Azure

“Congratulations to Satya Nadella as new CEO of Microsoft — great guy, great choice!”
– Marc Andreessen, HP board member, founder of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz

“Empathetic leader w/deep understanding of building product at scale; very confident Satya Nadella is the best choice to lead [Microsoft] cloud era
– Steven Sinofsky, former Microsoft Windows unit president, adviser at Box Inc.

“This is the best thing Microsoft could do. He’s always been an exceptionally thoughtful, calculating person.”
– Jason Hoffman, Ericsson AB VP of corporate strategy

And now the analysts, who were more varied in their reactions:

“Picking a core insider down the hall from Mr. Ballmer is an underwhelming pick relative to the high hopes that investors had when this process started. As Microsoft continues down the right lane of the highway at 55 mph with its new CEO in hand… other tech vendors from social, enterprise, mobile, and the tablet segments continue to easily speed by the company in the left lane of innovation and growth.”
– Daniel Ives, FBR Capital Markets & Co. managing director.

 “They needed someone that knew Microsoft’s strengths and weaknesses intimately and that could hit the ground running with a light hand so that what wasn’t broken didn’t get broken. Satya has immediately demonstrated his grasp of the problem by placing Bill Gates in a product role where he can become more of an asset then the liability he was as chairman.”
– Rob Enderle, Enderle Group principal analyst

Satya’s never run a P&L as big as Microsoft, so this is a bit of an unproven step up. Dealing in the public markets is a big new challenge for him, so he’s got a lot learning to do and will require coaching.”
– Ted Schadler, Forrester Research VP and principal analyst

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