Microsoft employees raise a record-breaking $125 million for nonprofits in 2015


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2015 Microsoft Employee Giving Infographic            

Microsoft’s Employee Giving Program raised a record-breaking $125 million for nonprofits and schools around the world in 2015, including the company match of employee contributions. Our employees increased their support through time, money and talent by $8 million, marking the greatest year-over-year increase in our program’s history.

These results show how, more than ever, Microsoft employees live our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We believe Microsoft Philanthropies rounds out our ability to reach our mission, as well as to reach everyone. In the case of our Employee Giving Program, that means supporting more than 18,000 nonprofits that do invaluable work every day to strengthen communities and better our world. What better time than today to say “thank you” to those nonprofits, and to the many people who work for them. In 2015, these people and organizations improved lives around the world by addressing a wide range of issues, providing shelter for those fleeing wildfires that ravaged portions of the United States, for example, and helping those seeking safety from war-torn regions around the world. They provided mentorships and skills training for at-risk youth, expanded the number of acres of protected forestland, ran nonpartisan civic engagement campaigns and much more.

Mary Snapp, Microsoft corporate vice president and head of Microsoft Philanthropies.

We celebrate the work of our nonprofit and education partners at the same time as we share our Employee Giving results, because they have inspired Microsoft employees to do more and give more. In fact, this year the participation rate for our Employee Giving Program hit an all-time high of 71 percent. Today we celebrate with our employees as well. We believe that they donate more time, talent and money because our program enables them to help address the causes they care about most. And their giving supported a very broad spectrum of local and global causes, among them humanitarian relief, health, human services and housing, education, arts and culture, agriculture, nutrition and the environment.

Our employees’ volunteer work makes me especially proud. In addition to dedicating a portion of each paycheck to a favorite charity, many employees integrate volunteering into their daily lives.  Each volunteer works out what works best for them at various stages in their lives. Some volunteer a few hours a month, as they can, while others are able to dedicate near second shifts as nonprofit volunteers. In total, employees contributed more than 570,000 volunteer hours in 2015.

In addition, our employees’ impact in Washington State – home to Microsoft’s corporate headquarters and more than 42,000 employees – was especially strong this year. Microsoft employees contributed $62 million to more than 4,000 nonprofits that help weave the fabric of our local communities. I’d like to tell you about a few of our volunteers:

  • Vanessa Payne, a technical advisor for Bing, and Heidi Fader, a program manager for the Storefronts Web team, volunteered a total of 340 hours in 2015, raising money for the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children’s. Inspired by a friend’s heroic battle with cancer, Vanessa and Heidi, who are childhood friends, dedicated themselves to the cause in 2013 and have raised more than $104,000 for cancer research so far.
  • Nykeesha Davis, a Microsoft human resources associate, volunteered 112 hours in 2015. She led a team of employee volunteers at YWCA of King County, developing six new computer-literacy programs for those served by YWCA’s career development centers. Nykeesha also serves on the board of Communities in Schools of Seattle, which coordinates high school dropout prevention programs. She notes that “the fact that these organizations get money for the time I’m already giving allows me to have a much larger impact financially than I would be able to do otherwise.”
  • James Spotanski, a program manager for Excel, logged more than 300 volunteer hours across nine nonprofits in Washington State, includingHabitat for Humanity,Northwest HarvestHopelink and the United Way of King County. James says Microsoft’s policy of paying nonprofits $25 for each hour an employee volunteers is a tremendous encouragement. “I love my job,” James says, “and I think it’s great that Microsoft emphasizes this kind of community involvement so much.”

Microsoft employees Heidi Fader and Vanessa Payne raise money for childhood cancer research. (Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

As we celebrate the important work of nonprofit organizations and the generosity of our employees, we recognize the need to further empower the nonprofit community. To fulfill our company mission, we, ourselves, need to do more. That’s why we recently announced our expanded commitment to corporate philanthropy with a broader ambition and a new organization, Microsoft Philanthropies. As a first step in the work of Microsoft Philanthropies, we recently committed to donate $1 billion in Microsoft cloud services over the next three years to nonprofits and university researchers, to ensure these organizations have the technology to advance the public good.

As we look forward, our communities and world continue to face many challenges. I know our employees are thinking of how they can help empower nonprofits through their donations of money, time and talent in the year ahead. We’re already working on new ways to grow Microsoft’s culture of giving and investing in strategic partnerships to help deliver the benefits of technology to everyone. We look forward to sharing more about our plans in the months to come.

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After two years as CEO, Satya Nadella has pulled off something special


It is an overstatement to say Microsoft is a phoenix rising from the ashes, but there has certainly been something special and new going on in Redmond after some tougher days. The company once dominated the technology business thanks to the Wintel alliance between Microsoft and Intel, and Microsoft led the PC revolution spurred by Bill Gates’ mission to have a PC in every home and on every desk.But something happened along the way. It’s not fair to say the company stopped innovating. Windows 8’s touch-centric design could be seen as ahead of its time, if anything, and the Surface line proved a surprising success, eventually–once the line got past its a rocky start and a $900 million write-down of unsold inventory. But the argument can be made that the company had stopped making products that people loved to use.

Thanks to the rise of CEO Satya Nadella, the past two years have been a different and unexpected story for Microsoft. He was named CEO by the Board of Directors on February 4, 2014 and came to the position as Microsoft had just begun to recognize the need for change under the banner of a new campaign known as “One Microsoft.” Previously, Microsoft was seen as a confederation of sorts of divided product groups that were in competition with each other. As this toxic culture consumed their creative efforts, Redmond watched as Google disrupted Office in the cloud with Google Apps and Apple set the new standard for mobile devices. Something had to change.

Very early in his tenure, Satya Nadella began speaking of new areas of growth by making Microsoft a “mobile first, cloud first company. At that time two years ago, there was not much clarity on what a mobile-first, cloud-first” company would look like. But if anyone could do it, it was the former Executive Vice President of Cloud and Enterprise Satya Nadella. He had been credited for helping bring Microsoft’s database, Windows Server, and developer tools to Azure. And now, two years later, we have a fuller picture of what Nadella has been working towards all along.

It starts with culture. In his email to the troops last year, Satya said:

“Perhaps the most important driver of success is culture. Over the past year, we’ve challenged ourselves to think about our core mission, our soul — what would be lost if we disappeared… we also asked ourselves, what culture do we want to foster that will enable us to achieve these goals?”

In the same email, he laid out a new mission for the company: “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” And he announced a reorganization of its business groups around a different strategy. Products and platforms would not be individually housed in their own groups, but rather aligned in broader groups that focus on specific purposes like “reinvent productivity and business processes, build the intelligent cloud platform, and create more personal computing.” These initiatives gave a vision for his employees to embrace, and it connected their day-to-day responsibilities to a higher and more fulfilling purpose of enabling people to simply “do more.”

CEO Nadella during the Windows 10 event
He also recognized that the technology industry “does not respect tradition – it only respects innovation.” This imperative has played out time and again over the past two years as Microsoft continues to do the unexpected relative to the company’s traditions under previous CEOs Steve Ballmer, and even Bill Gates.Microsoft now embraces open source technologies in cloud computing like Node.js and containers. It has even made a number of its own projects open source, such as .Net framework and Microsoft Edge’s ChakraCore JavaScript engine. This allows Microsoft to meet customers where they are at to help solve their problems with innovative solutions. Now, there are no off-limit boundaries of how Microsoft can build those solutions, unlike the days when Steve Ballmer considered open source technologies to be a “cancer.”

Nadella also restructured Microsoft Research, and spun off Microsoft Next to bring more innovations directly to products in a quicker manner, rather than have R&D be separate for the company’s core business activities in a more academic tradition.

Under Nadella’s leadership, Microsoft has been busy burying many hatchets from previous conflicting relationships. Once-foes are now friends, with partnerships between Microsoft and Salesforce, Box, and Dropbox. The tone of Microsoft’s relationship with Google has even changed as long standing patent cases have been settled. And of course Microsoft is entering into a new phase in its relationship with Apple.

The Office team was represented on stage at the launch of the iPad Pro to show off how great the device can be with Microsoft apps. The company even released this noble ad over the recent holiday season of Microsoft employees caroling “let peace begin with me” in front of Apple’s iconic glass cube store in Manhattan.

And while Microsoft’s new culture has been taking place, it has been delivering surprising new technologies that excite the imaginations of the public. A little over a year ago, consumers got their first look at the future of Windows 10 and how the operating system could power an augmented reality based computing experience with HoloLens.

Later last year, Microsoft had one of the best “one more thing” moments when Panos Panay revealed the Surface Book. The technology company has also been delivering great app experiences to iOS and Android users with staples like Office and Outlook, but also new projects from the Microsoft Garage like Send, NewsPro, Arrow and many more. And Office 365 has been a bright spot for the company as they surpassed the “disrupter” Google Apps for Work in market share.

Frankly, the list of impressive feats goes on and on. Everything from Microsoft’s growing cloud computing business, to a revived Xbox experience that puts gamers first, to Microsoft Research making its deep learning toolkit CNTK open sourced. Not to mention totally new services like GigJam and Power BI changing the way companies collaborate.

But there have been some not so great moments. There was Nadella’s comments regarding women’s pay at the Grace Hopper event. Although, to his credit, Nadella offered a swift apology that has been followed up continually with more of a focus on diversity and programs that empower women.

There also remain big unanswered questions about the future of Microsoft. Will Windows 10 be fully embraced by users and hit its goal of one billion active devices? The verdict won’t be out for some time, but one thing is clear: the universal strategy of Windows 10 becomes a lot less universal if there is no robust mobile presence for it. Windows phone market share is less than a rounding error, and the quarter that saw the launch of the newest Windows 10 Mobile Lumias was one of the worst holiday seasons for Microsoft’s phone sales.

For now though, Nadella should be proud of what he has achieved. Aircraft carrier-sized companies like Microsoft don’t turn on a dime, and Microsoft has pulled off something special so far. The transition hasn’t been easy with massive layoffs, reorganizations, and the dissolving of the former Nokia, which Microsoft had to write-off to the tune of $7.6 billion.

But the company has the culture and the vision it needs to grow again, and to wow the public with unexpected great products and services. Nadella has been handsomely rewarded by the Board for his efforts, which echoes their vote of confidence in his leadership. And the market has responded with Microsoft’s stock soaring as multiple revenue streams continue to grow. I’m excited to see what is next. With Microsoft’s new culture and businesses in place, I think Satya Nadella’s vision for Microsoft is just getting started.

How Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella did what Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates couldn’t


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talks to the troops
On Thursday, February 4th, Satya Nadella will celebrate his second anniversary as the CEO of Microsoft.It’s been an eventful couple of years.Microsoft has grown its crucial cloud business, released Windows 10 to a much better reception than its loathed predecessor, launched a bunch of great apps for iPhone and Android, and generally made people like it a lot more.

But the real victory of Satya Nadella – the truly monumental shift – has been within the company. Under Nadella, Microsoft is pointed in one direction for first time in modern memory.

“There is something only a CEO uniquely can do, which is set that tone, which can then capture the soul of the collective. And it’s culture,” Nadella said in an interview late last year.

One Microsoft

The Microsoft of old was a cutthroat kind of place.

Under Steve Ballmer, Microsoft had become a place where product groups warred with each other for attention and influence, even as products likeWindows 8 saw the company’s star wane rapidly.

Extremely promising and future-looking products were killed just because they didn’t help the Windows business, seen as the center of the company, while rising competitors like Apple and Google were either mocked or ignored until it was too late.

The end result was a lot of warring, independent product groups, all doing their own things. A great example is the Microsoft Xbox video game console, which started off as a project to improve Windows and get a PC in the living room, but which turned into an autonomous part of the company that Wall Street couldn’t make heads or tails of.

That trickled over into the company’s popular perception, as Microsoft customers and developers came to think of it as a company focused on strongarm sales tactics, not innovation.

“When I came over here, it was just a disaster,” Microsoft Technical Fellow John Shewchuk, head of the company’s developer experience team since 2013, told Business Insider.

Steve Ballmer recognized the problem. In July 2013, he announced a company-wide reorganization called “One Microsoft,” in an attempt to rally the company and get them focused on turning the company around. But it was too little, too late, and Ballmer, under pressure from the board, announced his resignation less than three months later.

Taking off the blinders

This is where the real genius of Satya Nadella comes in – and you can see it reflected in conversations with the company’s highest echelons.

Microsoft’s mandate, under Nadella, is to help people “achieve more,” if you buy the corporate-speak. In plainer terms, Nadella likes to make sure that Microsoft is focusing on making things that people actually enjoy using, no matter what kind of device they’re using it on.

“Revenue is a lagging indicator, usage is a leading indicator,” Nadella likes to say, according to Microsoft CVP Brad Anderson.

And the company’s executives and developers all love it. Without having to worry about worshipping at the altar of Windows, it can do all kinds of stuff it could never even consider before.

Satya Nadella Linux

Microsoft

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

“A muscle we’re developing at Microsoft is determining the soul or essence of these products, and developing accordingly,” Microsoft Corporate VP of Outlook Javier Soltero, who came to Microsoft in the acquisition of startup Acompli, told us.

A great example: The Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform now supports Linux, the free operating system that developers love, but Ballmer once referred to as “a cancer” and “communism.”

“Part of the new Microsoft is being given the permission to meet customers where they’re at,” Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich told us in 2015. “We’re no longer bound by an arbitrary rule.”

It’s touched Microsoft Office, too. Under Nadella, Office has expanded from a set of document-editing tools into a whole range of products and services that people actually enjoy using, from Microsoft Outlook on the iPhone to the funky futuristic GigJam work-sharing app.

“You buy Microsoft for your business, you want to feel good about the products we’ve been building,” Microsoft Office head Julie Larson-Greentold us in 2015.

Windows to the future

Looking forward, Windows 10 is going to accelerate all of this in a big way.

A big piece of Microsoft’s strategy hinges on the so-called Windows Universal App platform, where a developer can write an app once, sell it in the Windows Store, and have it work on any Windows 10 device – from PCs to tablets and back.

But it also gives Microsoft, internally, one platform on which to work, and makes sure that everybody in the company is rowing the same direction.

Case in point: In November 2015, the Xbox One video game console got an update that installed a version of Windows 10 at the core. Right now, Windows 10 is kind of just sitting there. In the not-so-distant future, though, it’s going to get a version of the Windows Store app market focused on gaming.

Minecraft HoloLens

Microsoft

Microsoft demos “Minecraft” on a HoloLens headset.

“Everything will be unified at some point,” Xbox Group Product Manager Peter Orullian told us. “This is a really big, important part of that.”

Similarly, the Microsoft HoloLens holographic goggles will run a version of Windows 10, too. And Microsoft has made a super-lightweight version of Windows 10 available to gadget-makers and connected appliance manufacturers.

So while Microsoft isn’t going to stop building iPhone and Android apps any time soon, it means that Microsoft’s internal product teams aren’t going to compete with each other – because there’s no competition. Windows is Windows, no matter what device it’s running on.

Still, there are challenges ahead for the company, as the PC marketshrinks almost faster than Microsoft can sell lucrative Windows licenses. And the Office 365 cloud suite is growing fast enough that it’s cannibalizing sales of the boxed Microsoft Office – meaning that Microsoft has plenty of theoretical revenue that it hasn’t hit yet.

But to Nadella’s mind, he shared last year, there’s only one real challenge:”Getting an entire organization to fall in love with these leading indicators of success,” Nadella said in an interview.

Source: Businessinsider

How Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella did what Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates couldn’t