Former Microsoft exec calls new CEO Nadella a "sheep"

You think you've heard harsh opinions about Microsoft's naming the company's 22-year veteran Satya Nadella to be CEO? You ain't heard nothing yet. A former high-level executive has called Nadella a "sheep." And it gets worse from there.

In an interview with Dan Lyons of HubSpot, former Microsoft executive Joachim Kempin had this to say about the hiring of Nadella:

"This reminds me of the pope -- only gestures, and no real reform to be expected. Looks like they found their sheep, a follower."

Kempin headed Microsoft's OEM group before leaving in 2002 under a cloud. This is far from the first time he's hammered Microsoft. A year ago, he called for Steve Ballmer's resignation, saying that Ballmer was the primary cause of Microsoft's woes.

Kempin argues that Nadella has no vision about the future, little consumer experience, and will not be forceful enough to change Microsoft. He told Lyons:

"Insiders say the guy has not done anything impressive at all. So he will struggle getting attention and respect.

"Most interesting, he can neither spell CONSUMER nor DEVICE. He is a softie, and he is a big business serving guy. His stated goal is to bring innovation faster to market. No track record there either. The best way to do that is to sell some parts of the company and get rid of a lot of fat. He won’t do that either."

Kempin's views are harsh and he enjoys being a loose cannon. But there's an element of truth in what he has to say. As I wrote before Nadella was hired, he's a stay-the-course guy at a time when Microsoft needs shaking up. Nadella also has no consumer or mobile experience at a time when those are Microsoft's biggest challenges.

On the other hand, Kempin clearly puts himself on the side of those who believe that parts of Microsoft should be sold off. In that, he's wrong. The company needs Bing, its consumer division, and other parts of the company that people have said should be sold.

As for Nadella being a "sheep," that's clearly over the top and wrong as well. Before he was appointed CEO, he rose to run Microsoft's corporate software and cloud computing businesses. Microsoft is a sharp-elbowed culture, and you don't rise that high by being a "sheep."

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