John Thompson, 64 and CEO of Virtual Instruments, was a named chairman of the board of directors of Microsoft. (press release). Thompson replaces Bill Gates as chairman of Microsoft and becomes the leading African American in US high tech. The board or directors of Microsoft is ultimate responsibility for the performance of the company. The board approves all upper level management decision such as the strategic direction, key management personnel, and investments. The board also recommend selecting Satya Nadella as CEO of Microsoft. (press release). The board also approved the $7.2 billion dollar acquisition of Nokia's handset business. (press release).
Thompson is the only black person to head a large silicon valley tech company. He led Symantec Corporation from 1999 to 2009. Prior to that he spent 24 years at IBM primarily in sales. One point he was head of sales and service for IBM Americas
He earned an undergraduate degree from Florida A&M University (business). He earned a MS degree from MIT as part of the Sloan Fellows program (basically advanced business studies). The Sloan Fellows program is a one-year degree for experienced "fast track" leaders usually paid for by their employers. The Sloan Fellows tuition is currently listed at $126,500 for one year. (MIT Sloan Price List)
Thompson actively backed Barack Obama for President. He also owns a stake in the Golden State Warriors.
Virtual Instruments, makes enterprise wide storage, server, network and cloud performance monitoring products. VI is private, so it is difficult to determine revenues or profits, but based on job openings they are expanding rapidly. The company is planning an IPO in 2014. Determining click-to-app performance bottlenecks is a key challenge in enterprise computing.
Forbes reported MR. Thompson earned $72 million(Forbes website 2006) in 2006 and $9 million in 2009 (Forbes 2012 Profile).
Here is Mr. Thompson speaking in a Microsoft Press release on YouTube about the selection of Satya Nadella as CEO of Microsoft. Video is here.
The San Jose Mercury News covers the story.
Bloomberg also reported the story.