Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella: Book Deal Aims To Inspire ‘Customers And Partners’ To ‘Hit Refresh’

Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella is following in Bill Gates’ footsteps with his own book, called Hit Refresh, which the Wall Street Journal says will focus, in part, on his role in transforming Microsoft into a technology leader. “Transformation” is the overall theme of the book, set to be published by Harper Business in the fall of 2017. Proceeds from the book will be donated to Microsoft Philanthropies to benefit nonprofits “working on public cloud for public good projects.”

Hit Refresh follows three storylines, “Nadella’s personal journey of transformation, the change that is taking place today inside his storied technology company, and one that is coming in all of our lives as intelligent machines become more ambient and more ubiquitous throughout society,” the publisher says in a press release.

In the book, Nadella “explores how people, organizations, and societies can and must transform — hit refresh — in their persistent quest for new energy, new ideas, relevance and renewal,” says Harper Business. “Nadella writes that uniquely human qualities like empathy will become more valuable in a world where the torrent of technology will disrupt like never before.”

“Ultimately, I am writing for Microsoft team members, customers, and partners in hopes that these stories of transformation will be useful to them as they navigate their own path,” Nadella says in the press release.

Originally from Hyderabad, India, Nadella now lives in Bellevue, Washington. He took over as Microsoft CEO two years ago, and weeks later he announced the biggest acquisition in the company’s history, the $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn, Geekwire reported. In a conversation with author Walter Isaacson during the Aspen Ideas Festival this week, Nadella said the book will be “meditations of somebody who’s a sitting CEO of a company going through a pretty cathartic transformation.”

Hit Refresh won’t be a memoir. Satya aimed to write about the transformation “as I’m going through it. It’s very much the trials and tribulations of a person going through a transformation, which is the hardest thing.”

He added, “It’s a moment in time where there is a lot of change — change with us, there is change in industry, there is change in the society.”

Since he became CEO in February in 2014, Nadella has shifted the company’s focus to a new era of information technology, including how artificial intelligence and humanity can co-exist. Quartz reported on his 10 commandments on how AI and humans should act. In a lengthy op-ed for Slate on the future of AI, Nadella said artificial intelligence “must be designed to assist humanity,” and that “A.I. must be designed for intelligent privacy — sophisticated protections that secure personal and group information in ways that earn trust.”

“I definitely fall into the camp of thinking of AI as augmenting human capability and capacity,” Nadella said on CNBC’s Power Lunch. “And then distilling a set of principles. Algorithmically, for example, how can AI be programmed to care for humans — not have bias built in? How can it be trustworthy? How can it be transparent? Those are the principles of AI design that are pretty core.”

Satya believes that humans and machines will continue to work together, not against each other, to help push the boundaries of technological evolution, and he uses the Siri app to support his theory.

“With all the abundance we have of computers and computing, what is scarce is human attention and time,” Nadella added. “So having the personal digital assistant really helps me regain my time — empowers me to get more out of every moment of my life.”

Nadella’s book deal follows that of Microsoft company co-founder and former chief Bill Gates, who has published two titles, The Road Ahead and Business@ the Speed of Thought.


[Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP Images]