SEATTLE – Microsoft executives struck an upbeat tone at the company’s annual shareholders meeting on 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 said at the event in Seattle, attended by a few hundred shareholders and company officials.
In contrast to the era in which Microsoft’s stock price was stagnant, 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, also have helped buoy shares.
Microsoft’s slate of board of directors candidates were all 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 made Microsoft’s directors a bit more diverse.
But the company recently reported a second consecutive annual decline in the portion of women employed by the company and muted gains in the share of underrepresented minorities.
Shareholders voiced approval for Microsoft’s evolving executive compensation practices.
The company said 95 percent of shareholder votes were to approve the symbolic advisory vote on executive pay.
In the past two years, shareholders criticized company pay practices, which critics said included too many giant stock grants and were only loosely connected to performance.
Since then, Microsoft has moved to tie more of executives’ pay to business goals and financial performance.
Absent Wednesday were Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder and current board member, and Steve Ballmer, the ex-CEO who remains a major shareholder.
Both reportedly had prior commitments.