CEO Satya Nadella, in an email to employees, crafted a statement that guides the company toward “empowering” people and organizations using Microsoft products and services “to achieve more.”
For Microsoft’s new mission statement, the Redmond company is doubling down on an old favorite: empowerment.
Chief Executive Satya Nadella revealed the new company line in an email to employees Thursday morning in which he outlined his goals for the year ahead.
“Every great company has an enduring mission,” he wrote in the email. “Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
Microsoft’s evolving mission statement
1977-1998: “A computer on every desk and in every home.” The phrase “running Microsoft software” was tacked on inside the company, but generally not in public to avoid regulatory scrutiny and alienating potential partners.
1999 annual report: “Empowering people through great software any time, any place, on any device.”
2012 annual report: “To enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential by creating technology that transforms the way people work, play, and communicate.”
2013, Steve Ballmer letter to employees: “Microsoft’s focus going forward will be to create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most.”
2015, Satya Nadella letter to employees: “Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
Source: Microsoft, Seattle Times archives
Though he was short on specifics, Nadella also hinted at tough choices ahead.
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“We will need to innovate in new areas, execute against our plans, make some tough choices in areas where things are not working and solve hard problems in ways that drive customer value,” he said.
Last week, Nadella announced his biggest executive shake-up at Microsoft during his tenure as chief executive.
Stephen Elop, the former Nokia chief executive and head of the devices group, will leave the company along with three other executives. The company’s hardware division will be folded into Terry Myerson’s Windows group.
Some analysts said the moves were an indication of Nadella’s displeasure with the performance of the phone-hardware group Microsoft purchased from Nokia last year. Microsoft lost money on each phone it sold during the first three months of the year, and in April warned that it was more likely the company would have to take a large financial hit to account for the reduced value of the unit.
In his email Thursday, posted by Geekwire, Nadella reiterated the ambitions for Microsoft that he’s been articulating since he was named CEO in February 2014. Those include creating new productivity and collaboration software, pushing adoption of Microsoft’s network of Web-accessed processing power and data tools, and advancing the ecosystem of devices and software that plug into its Windows operating system.
Microsoft has officially been in the business of “empowering” since at least 1999. That year, with the Internet beginning to unhinge computing from the desktop, Microsoft left its “a computer on every desk and in every home” mantra in favor of “Empowering people through great software any time, any place, on any device.”
The company has bounced among similarly abstract mission statements since.
In an interview earlier this month, Nadella said the company’s original “computer on every desk” mantra was a fantastic slogan, but wasn’t an enduring mission.
“It was one temporal goal, because in some sense we achieved it. Then what?” he said. “I want us to then have pursuit of what is it that we can do that is novel, that is something that we can do uniquely, and something that customers will value.”
Nadella’s focus on unique value is a departure from the later tenure of his predecessor, when the company’s moves were characterized at times by belated efforts to break into new hardware markets.
Before announcing his impending retirement in 2013, then-CEO Steve Ballmer announced the company would add “creating a family of devices” into its mission, a nod to a growing roster of Microsoft-built hardware, from Xbox to the company’s new Surface tablet business and future ambition as a maker of its own smartphones.
In Nadella’s email on Thursday, Xbox is the only piece of Microsoft hardware mentioned by name.