Sep 26, 2017

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella opens up on book tour

Nadella's book "Hit Refresh" goes on sale Tuesday. Photo: Microsoft

If it seems like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is all over the media, it's not your imagination. He has a new book out called "Hit Refresh," and the promotional interviews have generated some new nuggets:

Microsoft should not have bought Nokia's phone business. It's long been clear that Nadella didn't like the deal, which he rapidly unwound upon becoming CEO. But in the book, Nadella makes it clear he had voiced his opposition directly to then-CEO Steve Ballmer.

  • "I voted no," Nadella writes, referring to an open poll Ballmer did of the senior leadership team. "We were chasing our competitors' taillights."
  • He noted that months later Microsoft wrote off the entire value of the deal and laid off thousands of former Nokia workers. "It was heartbreaking."

Nadella once shadowed Reed Hastings. Concerned that he had spent his entire career at one company, he spent a year being mentored by the Netflix CEO, who was a member of Microsoft's board.

  • "I had not seen any other large organization or a fast-growing organization from the inside," Nadella said in an interview with the Washington Post. "He let me do that for a little while. That was the kind of thing I sought out.

Thoughts on AI worries: Both Nadella and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates think Elon Musk's concerns about machines with smarter-than-human intelligence are overblown.

  • "The so-called control problem that Elon is worried about isn't something that people should feel is imminent," Gates told WSJ. Magazine as part of a joint interview with Nadella. "This is a case where Elon and I disagree. We shouldn't panic about it. Nor should we blithely ignore the fact that eventually that problem could emerge."

The need to control design and data: Nadella raised what he says are more pressing concerns, including the near-term issues resulting from machines making decisions based on data fed to them by humans.

  • "There are still a lot of design decisions that get made, even in a self-learning system, that humans can be accountable for," he said. "So we can make sure there's no bias or bad data in that system. There's a lot I think we can do to shape our own future instead of thinking, 'This is just going to happen to us.'"

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Biden rolls out new policies in effort to court Sanders supporters

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Biden campaign announced two new policies on Thursday on health care and student debt that are squarely aimed at appealing to supporters of Bernie Sanders, who ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The policies don't go as far as Sanders' platform, but they signal that Biden is serious about incorporating elements of his former rival's agenda in an effort to help unify the Democratic Party and defeat President Trump in the general election.

Reports: Saudi Arabia and Russia reach major deal to cut oil production

Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images

OPEC+, led by mega-producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, reached a tentative agreement Thursday to impose large cuts in oil production as the coronavirus pandemic fuels an unprecedented collapse in demand, per Bloomberg and Reuters.

Why it matters: The revival of the OPEC+ collaboration patches up the early March rupture between the countries, which had pushed already depressed prices down much further by threatening to unleash even more new supplies into the saturated market.