All companies evolve. It’s just part of remaining relevant as the market changes. And some of these evolutions can be sweeping though, even if painfully slow.
As evidence of this idea, one only has to look at where Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) was twenty years ago when Bill Gates was at the helm, and where it is now. Long-term owners of MSFT have not only seen two CEO changes and eight versions of its Windows operating system, they’ve seen the company undergo a 180-degree turnaround in many of the ways it conducts business.
To that end (and just for a little nostalgic fun as we approach the 20th anniversary of the game-changing Windows 98), here’s a run-down of the biggest three paradigm shifts Microsoft has made.
1. Microsoft Embraces Partners
It wouldn’t be entirely fair to say the Microsoft of old never sought to build business using partners. It would be fair to say, however, that it as well as its rivals did so as sparingly as possible, fearing they could end up feeding their competition.
Now, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella loves teaming up with other tech players.
Case in point: For years Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) and Microsoft were pitted against one another, competing for lucrative corporate software business. In 2013 though, when it became clear that cloud computing was the future, the duo teamed up. By combining the best of both, each company has remained a relevant, fierce competitor, at least keeping Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) in check.
It’s a partnership that would have been unthinkable in the 90’s and early 2000’s.
2. Betting on an Unclear Future
Most technology companies experiment, though Microsoft for the most part — in the past — limited its experiment to something with a specific, product-driven purpose that would drive a clear benefit to the value of MSFT stock.
That’s not the case anymore though. Now, Nadella is willing to do things and acquire technologies without even really knowing how they might be spun into a marketable product.
The company’s foray into the realm of artificial intelligence is one example. As yours truly noted back in early September, the acquisition of Toronto-based A.I. software firm Maluuba was interesting, but Maluuba’s only claim to fame thus far was an intelligence that plays video games. It’s not exactly clear how the technology could be put to revenue-bearing use.
Doesn’t matter. When the time is right and the technology is ready, Nadella will find a way to monetize it.