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Nadella: 'Building Tools for Developers Is Who We Are as a Company'

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reaffirmed the company's central focus on developers in no uncertain terms this week.

Speaking to financial analysts on Wednesday during a wide-ranging investor call about Microsoft's second quarter earnings, Nadella said, "We want to build the best tool chain."

Then, he got into why:

The statement came in response to a question from Morgan Stanley equity analyst Keith Weiss about Nadella's views on Microsoft's progress with developers since the major GitHub acquisition in 2018.

"We're very excited about what's happening with the developer offering," Nadella said. "I think of what we are doing between Visual Studio and Azure DevOps and GitHub as effectively coming together as a compelling developer's SaaS solution in the same class as any other SaaS solution from Microsoft around productivity and communication."

Most of the talk out of Microsoft lately emphasizes Azure, cloud more generally or artificial intelligence. Nadella's comment to analysts, however, shows that he hasn't forgotten who must make the software giant's offerings work at an individual company level.

In fact, Nadella likes to point out that there are more software engineers/developers in the non-tech sector now than there are in the tech sector itself.

And while Weiss couched his question in the context of whether the developer tools give Azure a competitive advantage over Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform, Nadella steered it back to Microsoft being focused on the needs of developers rather than a need to advance Microsoft platforms.

"We're not focused only on Azure. For developers who use our tool chain, they can target any cloud, any edge device. And so this is not a sort of means to some end; we've always been clear about it, it's an end to itself," Nadella said. "We want to stay true to that ethos of open source, GitHub, and do the best tools."

Now, before things sound too pie-in-the-sky, Nadella reassured the audience of investors that those developer tools as a SaaS business are high-margin for Microsoft and suggested that the tools are optimized for developers coding for the Microsoft ecosystem.

Nadella's profession of love for building tools for developers doesn't have the wild, enthusiastic energy of former CEO Steve Ballmer sweatily pointing and yelling "Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers!"

Yet Microsoft's third CEO's quiet, confident and understated delivery communicates an equally forceful commitment.

Posted by Scott Bekker on January 30, 2020


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