WHEN SATYA NADELLA became the third boss of Microsoft in 2014 one photograph captured the moment. It shows him flanked by Bill Gates, the co-founder and chairman, and Steve Ballmer, Mr Gates’s successor as chief executive. The two white tech tycoons strike a confident pose in casual dress. Mr Nadella, an Indian-American, skulks in a suit, smiling awkwardly.
He had a reason for that awkward smile. The company was in a ditch. While it hunkered down at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, Apple invented the iPhone, and Google and Facebook rose from Silicon Valley. Its share price barely budged for years. When he took over, says Mr Nadella, outsiders questioned if Microsoft will “make it to the other side”.