Microsoft has been one of the top-performing companies in tech (or in any sector) for several years running. It also earns the top spot on our inaugural Modern Board 25, thanks to high marks in gender equality, board independence, board expertise, and ESG. Eight of its 12 board members and three out of four committee chairs represent gender or ethnic diversity, which studies have shown correlates with stronger company performance and a greater ability to handle emerging business challenges.
Microsoft’s lead independent director is John W. Thompson, former CEO of Virtual Instruments and Symantec, and one of the most prominent Black executives in tech. After joining the board in 2012, Thompson succeeded Microsoft founder Bill Gates as chairman in 2014 and held that role until 2021. Gates left Microsoft’s board in March 2020.
Reid Hoffman, angel investor and cofounder of LinkedIn, joined the board in 2017 after Microsoft bought his company for $26 billion in 2016. Microsoft’s board also boasts former U.S. secretary of commerce Penny Pritzker, and the former worldwide chairman for Johnson & Johnson, Sandra Peterson. The current CEOs of GlaxoSmithKline, ADP, and Wells Fargo are also directors. Padmasree Warrior, former CTO of Cisco, and two CFOs round out the group, along with CEO Satya Nadella, who was named chairman in 2021.
Some governance experts consider having the CEO serve as board chairman to be suboptimal, but as Thompson explained in a recent interview, Nadella has earned the role of chairman because of the company’s exceptional performance under his watch; since Nadella became CEO in 2014, the company has seen major growth in cloud services and video gaming while remaining dominant in productivity software. Microsoft is one of only a handful of U.S. companies to have exceeded a $1 trillion market capitalization; after briefly dipping below $150 at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in North America, its share price has been over $300 for most of 2022.
Microsoft made headlines in early 2022 with its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a gaming company embroiled in numerous scandals involving its allegedly toxic work environment. Microsoft’s board and C-suite leaders will face a major challenge as they seek to reshape the acquired company’s culture.
|No. of employees||181,000|
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