Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's Children Inspire Him to Give Back

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Mar. 1 2022, Published 11:42 a.m. ET

Three years after Microsoft (MSFT) founder Steve Jobs died from pancreatic cancer, Satya Nadella took the helm as the company’s CEO. Now, Nadella is dealing with his own personal tragedy as one of his children, Zain, has died.

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Nadella has three children and has made a home with his wife and kids in Bellevue, Wash., a short drive from the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond.

Satya Nadella announces son Zain died at age 26.

Zain, Nadella’s only son, has died at just 26 years old. Nadella announced the tragic news in an email to Microsoft’s executive staff.

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Inspired by Zain, Nadella made a tangible difference in accessible technology. He has made it his mission to better design products to serve those with disabilities, such as his son. During Nadella’s tenure as CEO, he has worked with the Children’s Hospital to form the Zain Nadella Endowed Chair in Pediatric Neurosciences. The role is part of the Seattle Children’s Center for Integrative Brain Research.

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According to a message from the Seattle Children’s Hospital CEO Jeff Sperring, “Zain will be remembered for his eclectic taste in music, his bright sunny smile and the immense joy he brought to his family and all those who loved him.”

Zain was born as a legally blind quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Despite those labels, his interests shone through—like reading American and Indian poetry and playing cricket.

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Who are Satya Nadella’s other children?

Nadella has two daughters, Divya Nadella and Tara Nadella. The girls are reportedly younger than Zain, although their exact birth dates are unknown. According to sources, one of Nadella’s daughters has a learning disability, but it isn't clear which one.

In 2021, Tara spoke on her late brother’s experience with the Seattle Children’s Hospital and how it had a positive impact on her. According to the hospital, “Her first taste of onion rings was in the Seattle Children’s cafeteria, and she recalls countless holidays and parties her family attended with Zain while he was an inpatient. It was not a typical childhood experience, but it is one she recognizes as invaluable.”

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Through Zain’s experience, Tara gained a broader perspective of accessibility and inclusion. Because of her brother’s experience living in a wheelchair, she could hardly look at a building or playground without thinking of design flaws that fail to accommodate people with special needs. Tara said about her experience, “Zain’s lessons have made me passionate about ensuring that every voice is heard and respected, because a quieter voice isn’t a lesser voice.”

As a family, the Nadellas have committed $15 million to the Seattle Children’s Hospital. Nadella’s wife Anu said about the philanthropic effort, “Philanthropy drives innovation in pediatric research and healthcare, especially in areas like neurological conditions. One day, treating them may be like treating a broken arm. That’s the dream.” The couple have been married since 1992.

According to Nadella, Microsoft is all about giving. “Giving is core to our culture, and you are exemplifying this every day,” he says about his employees. For now, Nadella will be grieving in private with his family over the death of his only son, Zain.

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