Microsoft’s Satya Nadella is mighty impressed with India’s “fantastic” entrepreneurs and startups

Talking tech.
Talking tech.
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Satya Nadella has only good things to say about Indian startups and Bengaluru.

On Feb. 20, the India-born Nadella was on his maiden visit to the city as Microsoft CEO. Among other things, he participated in a 30-minute fireside chat with Infosys co-founder and former CEO Nandan Nilekani. The event was attended by nearly 1,000 techies and academicians, including some of the country’s most prominent entrepreneurs like Flipkart co-founder and group CEO Binny Bansal and InMobi co-founder and CEO Naveen Tewari.

On the sidelines, he met a bunch of young entrepreneurs and saw some products that Indian startups are building. An impressed Nadella made several observations.

Here are some of his edited comments:

Entrepreneurship in India

It’s fantastic to see the quality of the entrepreneurs in India. The ideas that these entrepreneurs are working on are not just for the Indian market, which itself is huge, but they also go beyond the country, which is amazing.

The centre of the entrepreneurial energy for us (Microsoft) in India is all around the cloud. We are working with some big brands that are using Azure and are already well established, such as OYO Rooms.

But even the startups, which I just saw (at the event venue in Bengaluru), were stunning—building on IndiaStack, transaction analytics, and the very idea of a payment infrastructure getting built on top of Aadhar, leveraging the cloud, is great.

I think the entrepreneurial energy of the place is just tremendous to see. In fact, in the last 12 months, we have had 2,000 startups using our cloud in India. It is one of the few places in the world where the entrepreneurial energy is able to scale up, not just start.


Flipkart’s founder got the second-wave of Indian startup started (the first wave included companies like Infosys).

I have always been an admirer of what Flipkart has done in not only starting e-commerce but now with payments and logistics. They are really getting India on the world map of cloud-native entrepreneurs and applications.

(At the event, Flipkart and Microsoft announced a partnership through which the e-commerce major will exclusively use Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Azure.)

Future of artificial intelligence

If I could broadly talk about artificial intelligence, the impact that we are having even in India today is fantastic. It’s a powerful great step towards harnessing the power of data.

But I don’t think we should go and claim that something like artificial general intelligence is just around the corner. If anything, I would say we are on the right ladder this time.

Ultimately, the real challenge is human language understanding. That still does not exist, and we are not even close to solving it. We only have some parlour tricks but we don’t have anything to say that we can write like Rabindranath Tagore anytime soon.