Microsoft’s push into the world of artificial intelligence has sent shockwaves through the global business market, but not for the reasons futurists may have anticipated. Since the start of 2023, shares in Microsoft have surged by more than 50 per cent, buoyed by the technology giant’s forward-thinking investment in AI. Remarkably, the rally has pushed the share price past a record USD$350 (AUD$515) and turned chief executive officer Satya Nadella into the world’s newest tech billionaire.
A new report has revealed that the record share price is almost USD$20 higher than the company’s previous best, which was set back in November 2021. According to Bloomberg, the rapid rise has pushed Nadella’s total windfall from the company past the USD$1 billion threshold, accounting for the CEO’s total collective payouts, which include salary, bonuses, equity grants and dividends.
Importantly, neither Nadella or Microsoft have confirmed the news, with Microsoft spokesperson Frank Shaw telling Bloomberg by email that Nadella “does not have net worth of a billion dollars or more”.
As the report suggests, Microsoft shares have returned more than 1,000 per cent since Nadella’s first day in the top job in 2014. At that point, Microsoft was in a stage of decay, trailing behind industry heavyweights such as Apple. Flash-forward to 2023 and Microsoft is now the second largest company in the world and it has its sights set on the future.
In 2022, under Nadella’s direction, Microsoft announced a multi-billion dollar investment in OpenAI, the company responsible for the viral ChatGPT bot. The move to invest early set the AI race off, prompting competitors such as Google owner Alphabet Inc. to play catch up with its Bard chatbot system.
The buggy alternative to ChatGPT had precisely the opposite impact that Alphabet was hoping for, however, when a factual error in the official announcement saw Google’s stock price fall by more than 7 per cent overnight, wiping out about USD$102 billion in market value.Needless to say, the competitor’s misstep was a major boost to Microsoft, which continued to grow in market value.
For Nadella and Microsoft, the future is looking bright. ChatGPT’s influence is continuing to swell and Microsoft’s upcoming merger with Activision Blizzard appears to be going ahead, prompting many to beleive Nadella’s windfall could climb even more rapidly over the next few months. If you ask us, however, the most shocking part of the entire ordeal is that the CEO of Microsoft wasn’t already a billionaire.
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