Making a passionate case for innovation, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella argued that quality of ideas matter more than startup valuations in the long run. “I don’t look at valuations,” he told a group of editors in Mumbai. “What matters is the quality of ideas.”
Responding to a question on high valuations of startups, Nadella leaned on researcher and consultant Carlota Perez’s work in exploring the relationship between technology across several economic cycles. ‘Overfunding’ during times of change will make it possible for a whole lot of ideas to flourish, he said.
Nadella took the high ground in the fierce debate now underway on high valuations of startups. Without getting drawn into specifics, he limited his comments to the larger role financial capital can play in birthing innovation. “There is a lot of startup and entrepreneurial energy in India,” Nadella said. Several ecommerce companies in India are no longer startups, but have evolved into global companies with high capital and valuations.
But the progress made in ecommerce has to be taken to smaller stake holders as well. Who is going to bring smaller sellers into the digital world, he quipped, before diving into how Microsoft is committed to helping large and smaller players.
“Our economic model is putting digital technology in the hands of others,” he said. Local startups with great ideas should have access to global technology, Nadella said. Large IT services companies in India are also keen on using technology to add value, he added.
Nadella was speaking to editors on the side lines of Microsoft’s Future Unleashed programme in Mumbai, attended by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad, among others.
Nadella braved a jet lag and found time for a five-kilometre run earlier in the morning before landing at the event. Nadella took over as Microsoft CEO in February 2104. Under him, the tech giant has been distinctly more innovative and risk-taking with new products like HoloLens, a virtual or mixed-reality device, a fitness tracker band and the new Surface Pro 4 which will be available in India next January.
Nadella also talked about the culture of innovation that has been brewing within Microsoft long before some of these innovative products hit the market. “We want to be innovative… creating a phone that works like PC or Surface that can replace a tablet.”
Unlike earlier, under Nadella, sleekly-designed hardware product that create ‘new experiences’ is becoming an integral part of Microsoft’s new vision of empowering every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.