In America, no easy nod for Satya Nadella

WASHINGTON: "First commitment as CEO...i won't wait 4 years between tweets!" Satya Nadella chirped on Twitter soon after taking the corner office at Microsoft on Tuesday. But going by the kind of scrutiny even his meagre Twitter feed (only 25 tweets till July 2010) has received from scribes and scribblers scavenging for information about the man catapulted to the tech center-stage, he might want to watch his flow.

"It's on Twitter where Nadella's (relative) youthful exuberance shines brightest," one writer sniped on Slate, noting that he managed to pack into his full oeuvre of 25 updates, "a staggering ratio of exclamation points to actual words." Apparently, it betrayed "boundless enthusiasm" and little gravitas. His first email to Microsoft employees was described as "impressively substance-free," in which "Nadella would appear to share in common with his predecessor a predilection for jargon, cliche, and gratuitous superlatives."

However, it was on the same thin Twitter feed that Nadella also briefly revealed a liking for the obscure and metaphysical. "All About H.Hatterr...quite a read!" he exclaims in an April 2009 tweet. Only literary cognoscenti would recognize the then-critically acclaimed and now largely-forgotten 1948 book by GV Desani, a former London correspondent of The Times of India and a staff writer at the Illustrated Weekly.

And so while the Indian media went to town with the kind of shrill hysteria over an "Indian success story" that makes many expats cringe (one media maven called it the "the cliched need to trot out the 'rise of India-born executives in tech land' stories,"), the American press was decidedly skeptical about Nadella's rise, making only a marginal reference to his ethnicity. Much of the debate centered on whether a Microsoft insider was capable of taking the company on a different trajectory, expressed in headlines that invariably ended with a question mark.

From "Did Microsoft make the right choice today?" (Motley Fool) to "Can a data geek solve Microsoft's consumer puzzle?" (PC World), the lack of conviction was all-pervasive as tech pundits mulled over "The regime change that wasn't" (Salon). "Microsoft names Nadella CEO: A New Era or New Error?" asked Barron's, even though one blog (SlashGear) called him "Microsoft's anti-Ballmer."

Microsoft itself put out a gauzy media package, including in-house video interviews and endorsements for Nadella from Gates and Ballmer. But absent direct media interaction, it did little to illuminate the man who has been in the corporate shadows for 22 years, hunkered over geeky stuff and soaking up dense and exotic courses and books. The answer to the most common headline of the day - "Just who is Satya Nadella?" - will need more than just tweets.
In America, no easy nod for Satya Nadella In America, no easy nod for Satya Nadella Reviewed by Glam Treat on 08:34:00 Rating: 5

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