Weekly Tech Commentary – SunTech EP.4

1. Microsoft earnings up, Amazon registers profit (surprise, surprise)

We talked about Microsoft’s solid impression on its last keynote, most noticeably with the release of the Surface Book. It now has the numbers to show for it. Its recent financial results for the first quarter for 2015 exceeded estimates from analysts, and shares rose above $50 for the first time since November last year. Most of the good work has been attributed to its shift towards cloud services.

Microsoft seems well set to reach CEO Satya Nadella’s target of $20 billion by 2018, but it remains to be seen if enterprise and cloud services will transition into the core business of the software giant, or sit side by side with personal computing.

It is worth pointing out that simply throwing everything behind cloud computing will not simply guarantee success. Case in point is EMC’s lackluster performance relative to its peers in the cloud.

Speaking of cloud services, Amazon registered profits for the second consecutive quarter, in part buoyed by growth in the cloud segment of which it is currently leading with 29% market share. This is news because people are starting to come out and declare “get used to Amazon being profitable!” which is virtually unheard of since the early days of the e-tailer cum cloud giant. Amazon is famous for almost always sacrificing profits for growth, investing in concepts and product development. Although its investments are not as flamboyant as those like Google’s Project X, there have still been flops like its Fire smartphone. Obviously, some have paid off – like converting unused warehouses into data storage facilities that eventually evolved into Amazon Web Services.

2. Why are Indian executives so successful in Tech companies?

All that talk about Microsoft always brings us back to one thing: the appointment of Satya Nadella as CEO last year. I had to admit that I was quite late to the news but when I first saw Satya Nadella spoke, he came across to me as a man on a mission. That mission, is to turn Microsoft around and bring it back to its former glory. He gives off the vibe you typically associate with Steve Jobs (and even looks like him), but replacing the impeccable foresight is a quiet confidence and extremely clear vision – that of making Windows beloved again.

A few months back in August, Google announced a restructuring that pushed Chennai born Sundar Pichai to the role of CEO in what was left of Google’s main products and services. Pichai apparently had a meteoric rise and the general consensus was that nobody expected him to end up where he is today, based on his unassuming, get-the-job-done-without-much-hooha attitude.

But that is apparently the main reason why so many of the top jobs in the technology industry is being taken up by Indians. The traits exhibited by the best includes being humble while having high individual proficiency, and being future oriented as well as great team builders.

This led me to ask myself if these are distinctly traits borne out of being an Indian, or out of their culture of engineering excellence. Do other cultures/nationalities have a defining trait? I do not believe that I can answer these questions as yet, but it is indeed inspiring to know that being shaped by a culture can have an impact on your career.


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