As part of the CEO transition at Microsoft, via which Satya Nadella is taking over as the company's third CEO effective immediately, one of Microsoft's current board members, John Thompson is simultaneously taking on the role of Microsoft board chairman.
Thompson is replacing Gates as board chairman. Gates is remaining on the Microsoft board. Ex-CEO Steve Ballmer is staying on the board as well, a spokesperson confirmed. But Gates' new title is "founder and technology advisor." Gates will be advising Nadella on product direction and has freed up "over a third" of his time to potentially meet with product groups at Microsoft for some undisclosed length of time.
Thompson has been a member of Microsoft's board for two years. He has also been leading Microsoft's CEO search for the past five months-plus.
He is the CEO of Virtual Instruments, a company that manages virtual-physical cloud migrations and an investor in a handful of early-stage tech companies in Silicon Valley. Thompson also served as CEO of Symanec for 10 years, through 2009, and on Symantec's board until 2011. Before that, he held a variety of management positions at IBM in sales, marketing, software development for a variety of products including (somewhat ironically), OS/2.