A boy from a middle-class family in Andhra Pradesh, son of a Marxist father and Sanskrit scholar mother, emigrates to United States at the age of 21 for higher education. He then joins a software company, rises through the ranks and after a span of 28 years becomes its CEO. All of this made possible through sheer talent, hard work and equally importantly, a culture that rewards meritocracy.
Such is the inspiring life story of Satya Nadella, the current CEO of Microsoft.
However, when Satya took the helm, the company was facing an existential crisis. Once the dominant and belligerent player in the arena of software industry, it was now trailing behind Apple and Google. Its ambitious products like Windows Vista, Windows 8, Windows Phone, acquisition of Nokia, had failed to make any improvements in market share.
In his book "Hit Refresh", Satya narrates how all this came to be, and what he plans to do bring Microsoft back to its glory. This is a story of how a company, just like an individual, sets out to retrospect, introspect and seek its soul.
Along the way, Satya has had to make some unpopular decisions (one of it being to sideline the Windows Phone, driving away many of its loyal users like me), but he explains his reasoning and over-arching strategy behind it.
Of course, the journey has just barely begun, and the results are yet to come in. But that's what makes this book unique and exciting; it would have been easy to write a book after he retired, with a perfect 20/20 hindsight. By sticking out his neck now, Satya has shown he means business.
Apart from developments unique to Microsoft, this book also covers Satya's thoughts about a vast range of topics, with emphasis on artificial intelligence and quantum computing. He writes about the much-sensitive issues of privacy and security, as well as the importance of a global framework for creating AI. One of the important takeaways from the book is that next age would be about the shift from know-it-alls to learn-it-alls.
This book was released just last week, and I was eager to read it after reading a splendid review by Bill Gates on his site, GatesNotes.