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Was Microsoft smart to play it safe with CEO pick?

Microsoft has a mountain of cash, but was slow to react to Internet search and mobile. Above, its tablet computer.
Microsoft has a mountain of cash, but was slow to react to Internet search and mobile. Above, its tablet computer.Elaine Thompson /Associated Press/File 2013

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SAN FRANCISCO — After compiling a list of more than 100 CEO candidates, Microsoft settled on Satya Nadella a home-grown leader who joined the software maker in the early 1990s. That’s back when Google’s founders were teenagers and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in elementary school.

Tuesday’s hiring of Nadella as Microsoft’s CEO after a five-month search is a safe move that’s likely to be greeted with sighs of relief around the company’s Redmond, Wash. headquarters, industry analysts say. But the methodical, almost predictable decision is likely to reinforce perceptions that Microsoft Corp. is a plodding company reluctant to take risks as it competes against younger rivals who relish going out on a limb.

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