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Stories Asia

Empowering Asia

Microsoft has made a home for itself in Asia for over three decades – it’s not just a strategic priority for the company, but also one in which it has a long and rich heritage. In the region, Microsoft remains committed to empower every person and every organization to achieve more –  an extremely important component to achieving this mission is inspiring and providing the tools and access to technology that help youth succeed, so they can build a better future across Asia.

Over the course of two weeks, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella traveled to six countries across Asia, with Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore counting as first visits for him as the head of the company. On his trip he met with thousands of students, educators, developers, partners, customers and employees. He also spoke at developer conferences in each country, encouraging the audience who attended both in person and via live streams to dream big, and be creative. Read on for some the highlights from his visits:


On 24 May 2016, Satya kicked off his six-country Asia tour in Tokyo, Japan, where Microsoft has just celebrated the 30th anniversary of our presence there. Microsoft Japan has grown from a small office of just 18 employees in 1986, to our second-largest subsidiary in the world, with 2,400 employees that continues to contribute to Japanese businesses, society and education.

This connection with the country was highlighted during the de:code 2016 conference, where an audience of over 2,000 developers (and 30,000 more online) warmly welcomed Satya as he delivered the keynote address. During his session, Satya shared our Microsoft mission, three bold ambitions and how Japanese companies like Toyota and Japan Airlines are undergoing digital transformation journeys, enabled by Microsoft technologies.

There was also a demo of Rinna, Microsoft’s AI chatbot in Japan, who has already had over 3.4 million conversations with people on Line and Twitter.

Later, Satya visited Hiroo Junior High School, the first school in Japan to participate in the Minecraft: Education Edition beta program. Satya joined students in the school’s programming class, where they demonstrated how they utilize Minecraft’s open world to explore and learn as part of their curriculum.

[Click here for the full story (in Japanese) on the Microsoft Japan News Center]


On 25 May 2016, Satya got the chance to check out some of the best innovations Thailand has to offer during his first official visit to Bangkok as Microsoft’s CEO. He started his trip meeting the country’s top start-ups, and student teams from Imagine Cup Thailand who gave demonstrations of their winning apps.

One of the Imagine Cup Thailand teams, RICSM, even received a shout out during Satya’s keynote at the Thailand Developer Day conference for their DB8 app, which teaches students English using Microsoft’s speech recognition and natural language APIs.

Microsoft’s commitment to supporting and empowering the local developer community was reaffirmed by Satya at the conference, that was attended by more than 1,000 developers and live streamed to thousands more.

Satya also opened the Technology for Good event, coinciding with the announcement on Thailand being one of the countries benefiting from the Public Cloud for Public Good initiative – a donation of US$1 billion in Microsoft cloud services to more than 70,000 non-profits and university researchers worldwide over the next three years.

Representatives from 50 of Thailand’s leading NGOs were present at the event, where Satya shared the stage with Mechai Viravaidya, Chairman of Population and Community Development Association (PDA), who joined him in a discussion on how technology has been a key enabler for students and teachers in promoting lifelong learning in rural areas for over a decade.


On 26 May 2016 in Jakarta, excited students from SMP Muhammadiyah 9 High School greeted Satya as he sat among them during class. Lessons were in reverse as the students happily showed off and taught him how they used apps such as OneNote as part of learning in their proof-of-concept school – a partnership between Microsoft and the Muhammadiyah organization to showcase and implement transformational education with technology.

This first trip to Indonesia for Satya as Microsoft’s CEO also coincides with our subsidiary’s 20th year in the country, where we have made long-term investments in programs that empower the local community, especially youth. In that spirit, Satya highlighted our partnership with local NGO, Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa (YCAB) Foundation for Indonesia M-Powered, a job and resources platform for underserved youth that equips them with skills to compete effectively in the 21st century workforce.

M-Powered aims to improve the quality of computer science education in Indonesia and provide the means for students in remote areas to gain access to educational materials more easily. In line with that goal to reduce the digital divide in the country, Satya shared how our Affordable Access Initiative grant will enable local start-up Kelase to scale its business in delivering educational content and solutions that can be accessed in low bandwidth or even offline scenarios across the country.

Our continued commitment to supporting and empowering developers was reaffirmed by Satya at the Microsoft Developer Festival (DevFest) 2016 as he delivered his keynote to the 1,500 developers in the audience, and over 2,000 students in remote parts of the country watching via Skype.


On 27 May 2016, Satya started his day, and first visit to Singapore as CEO, doing something he has always been passionate about: meeting with promising local students and developers. Over breakfast of “kopi and kaya toast” at the National University of Singapore (NUS), students and young start-ups chatted with him about their projects. Among these young innovators was the Imagine Cup Singapore 2016 winners Team Vuuy’s social robot Ruth, a personal assistant for the elderly, who even got her own personal meet-and-greet with Satya.

How Microsoft “cares deeply about how we create platforms that can empower, enable and inspire developers to chase after their dreams” was a key message from Satya at Microsoft Developer Day Singapore. The event was attended by more than 1,700 students and developers and streamed live to over 3,000 others. Satya outlined the role that local developers play in helping organizations embrace digital transformation, and cited Astoria Solutions, Overdrive and JTC as examples of local companies harnessing the power of an intelligent cloud to build a better, more efficient, smarter and sustainable future.

Testament to Microsoft’s commitment to youth and the local community was the announcement of the collaboration between Microsoft and NUS on Data Science Education and Research. NUS will be the first university in Asia to adopt Microsoft’s data science curriculum, and will be able to leverage these assets to train and develop talents and capabilities in data analytics and data science. This will be taught to both IT and non-IT students, and allow students from a cross-section of disciplines to co-create solutions that will build Singapore into the world’s first Smart Nation, one that is smarter and more inclusive.


On 30 May, Satya was back in India, just over 6 months after his well-received keynote at Future Unleashed 2015 in Mumbai last November. This time in New Delhi, he addressed a large gathering at Tech for Good, Ideas for India, an event designed to showcase how technology is fostering a culture of innovation to solve real-world problems and driving India’s transformation. Some 400 young innovators, developers and entrepreneurs watched Satya in person and another 5,000 more caught him via live streaming.

“I had only two passions that have driven my dreams – poetry and computer science,” Satya said as he began his speech. He then proceeded to quote 19th century Urdu and Persian poet Mirza Ghalib’s famous couplet roughly translating to “thousands of aspirations such, that each aspiration takes your breath away… I had many dreams, yet I yearn for more” which was met with thunderous applause from the local audience.

Satya highlighted how India’s unlimited creativity and potential can produce both poetry, as well as technology, for the world. He shared with the audience how he was inspired by young developers and their innovations that are changing the landscape of India, and the world – highlighting Spot Garbage – tech for a cleaner India and Lifesaver – tech for a healthier India as local examples.

During his visit, Satya also spoke at a fireside chat with nearly 100 Indian CEOs from across the country. Organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the event focused on the role of technology in enabling long term competitiveness for businesses and the country.


On 1 June, the last leg of Satya’s Asia tour brought him to the Chinese capital of Beijing. He started his visit at the Microsoft China Developer Summit, where he greeted an excited audience of over 1,000 developers (as well as another 3,000 watching via live streaming) with“你好” before sharing Microsoft’s mission and our quest to empower developers and create opportunities for them.

At the summit, Satya highlighted some of Microsoft’s recent innovations including the hugely successful Chinese social bot Xiaoice – well-loved in China with over 42 million friends across 11 different social platforms such as WeChat and Weibo, which has already held over 2 billion conversations. He called out local developers who inspire him, such as the Imagine Cup China winners behind the BoneyCare stammer training app. BoneyCare is a speech therapist for anyone suffering from stammering issues, and makes use of the intelligent cloud and cognitive APIs.

At the Tsinghua University of Economics and Management, Satya met with the first batch of students from the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX), who leapt at the opportunity for a candid “jumping shot” with him. GIX was formed last year through a partnership between two leading research universities in China and US – the University of Washington and Tsinghua University – and Microsoft.

Satya then joined Tsinghua University’s Dean Qian, in a fireside chat that was attended by an audience of more than 800, including students, alumni and faculty members. During his conversation with Dean Qian, Satya discussed Microsoft’s mission and culture, particularly our “growth mindset” as a key attribute that we strive for. In the spirit of striving for their dreams, Satya also encouraged the students in attendance to chase their passions by citing a poem by Li Bai, a Chinese poet from the Tang dynasty: “Never tip your golden cup to the moon empty. Seize the day, follow your heart”.