Microsoft executives struck an upbeat tone at the company’s annual shareholders meeting Wednesday, touting signs of success in the company’s campaign to remain relevant in a fast-changing technology world with a new generation of software tools.
“This last year has been a year of solid progress at Microsoft,” Chief Executive Satya Nadella [pictured here] said at the event, attended by a few hundred shareholders and company officials at Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center.
In contrast to the era in which many shareholder questions circled Microsoft’s stagnant stock price, the company is set to end 2016 on a high note.
Microsoft’s share price is hovering near all-time highs, aided by growth in the company’s cloud-computing units. Shareholder-friendly policies, including billions of dollars paid out annually in dividends and share buybacks, have also helped buoy shares.
Shareholders voiced their approval of the company’s direction in their near unanimous re-election of the board of directors. Microsoft’s slate of board of directors candidates was approved with more than 98 percent of votes cast.
The board’s composition last changed a year ago with the appointment of Johnson & Johnson executive Sandra Peterson, and a former Cisco executive, Padmasree Warrior.
The addition of two women to the board, replacing the retiring Maria Klawe and joining current board member and Dick’s Sporting Goods Chief Financial Officer Teri List-Stoll, made Microsoft’s directors a bit more diverse. But the company as a whole hasn’t fared as well, recently reporting a second consecutive annual decline in the portion of women employed by the company, and muted gains in the share of underrepresented minorities.
Nadella said the company had been bringing in more diverse classes of university graduates recently, “but we need to do more, both at Microsoft and across our industry.”
Shareholders also voiced approval for Microsoft’s evolving executive-compensation practices, a break from past years. The company said 95 percent…