When Satya Nadella took the reins from Steve Ballmer to become CEO of Microsoft, the entire technology world went into wait and see mode to see what, if any changes, one of the most important companies in the world would make. Microsoft is still an important part of the computing landscape around the world, but has increasingly been becoming irrelevant as it continued to fail to make the transition towards an increasingly mobile, and connected world. Enough time has passed, where we can safely declare that Satya Nadella is determined to do things differently, and bring Microsoft into the present, and set it up to be successful again in the future.
Under Nadella’s leadership, MS has open sourced .net, offered Microsoft Office for free on iOS devices, and has made some acquisitions that it hopes to quickly turn into it’s own products to put in the hands of users. MS acquired Acompli for $200 million, and many people would say it is now the best email application available for the iPhone. MS also acquired HockeyApp, an app that allows developers to see when an app crashes. Most recently, MS acquired Sunrise, a well designed calendar app- that sits on my homescreen. Nadella seems to have realized that not everyone is on a Microsoft powered device anymore, but that it is still important for users to be able to use Microsoft products everyday.
Acquiring, successfully integrating, and re-introducing products to the mobile world could be a very effective strategy for Microsoft going forward. A fun exercise is to think which other companies would be worthwhile for Microsoft to pursue through M&A.
Here are some of my ideas for Satya Nadella’s shopping list: I obviously have no idea if MS is interested in these companies, or if these companies even want to sell- just a fun thought experiment.
1) Foursquare: Foursquare’s location database already helps power many applications’ location services. The team has also built a rich recommendation engine based on years of check in data. Foursquare also offers a content play, that can serve as an alternative to Yelp listings. This could help Microsoft make a powerplay in local search, and improve its Bing Maps offering.
2) Dropbox: Consumer cloud storage is at a race to the bottom, and will quickly move to zero. MS can afford to offer the service for little to nothing, and simultaneously get a foothold on every mobile OS. Dropbox’s Carousel can also be improved upon, to become a great photo storage solution on mobile and PC for all users.
3) Wunderlist/Todoist: We all have a list to-dos. Increasingly many of us are creating, editing, and storing these on our phones. People interact with these lists, and the apps they use to maintain them daily- MS should get into this space, and link it with other services of its own on the device.
4) Slack: In many ways this makes the most sense for MS to acquire. Slack has been rapidly growing in the enterprise space, where MS has been dominant for many years- and is beginning to make a push into the consumer space, where MS hopes to become increasingly relevant once again.
The technology world is better when its most powerful companies, like Microsoft are focused on innovating, and building for the future- I look forward to seeing what additional changes the company will make under Satya Nadella.