How did Zain Nadella die? Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's son passes away at 26

A company-wide email was sent to Microsoft employees, confirming Zain Nadella's death and asking them to 'hold the family in your thoughts and prayers'


                            How did Zain Nadella die? Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's son passes away at 26
Satya Nadella and his wife Anu with their son Zain (Satya Nadella/LinkedIn)
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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's eldest child has died, the company confirmed on March 1, 2022. A company-wide email was sent to employees confirming Zain Nadella's death, and asking them to "hold the family in your thoughts and prayers." So far, Nadella hasn't publicly commented on the news, so we have little information at the moment. 

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The 26-year-old was the eldest of three children born to Nadella and his wife Anu. Born with cerebral palsy, Zain's birth was complicated by asphyxiation in utero. Despite that, he not only survived but thrived as a child with help from a Vancouver-based school. Nadella is currently leading the tech giant, after taking over in 2014 from Steve Ballmer, who was widely criticized for nearly running the company to the ground.

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Nadella has been extremely open about the struggles Zain faced growing up and noted how they "had a profound impact" on him. In fact, in a 2017 interview, he credited Zain's challenges for his deeply empathetic nature, which has become a hallmark of his time as Microsoft's leader.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addresses shareholders during Microsoft Shareholders Meeting on December 3, 2014, in Bellevue, Washington (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

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How did Zain Nadella die?

At the moment, little news is available so we cannot confirm the cause of Zain's death. The company-wide email asked for employees to "give them space to grieve privately."  Jeff Sperring, CEO of Children’s Hospital in Seattle, also acknowledged Zain's death telling the board of the hospital, "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."

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Zain was born in Seattle, after a traumatic birth that left him with cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia and being diagnosed legally blind. "He has endured many painful medical interventions and will likely face more," wrote Anu in September 2017. She went on to say his challenges taught her and the family "not just how to cope but also the power of kindness." The CEO added to that in the 2017 interview, "After Zain, things started to change for me." 

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In a blog post published that same year, Satya Nadella recounted the birth of Zain and its impact on him and his family. He called becoming a father to a special needs son "a turning point in my life" and noted, "I have learned that when I infuse empathy into my everyday actions it is powerful, whether they be in my role as a father or as a CEO." He also admitted that Zain drove his priorities at Microsoft, to make "accessibility a top priority" for the company. 

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Despite the challenges, Zain grew into a man with a "discerning passion for music." A large amount of his recovery took place at the Children's Hospital, which tied up with the family to create the Zain Nadella Endowed Chair in Pediatric Neuroscience in 2021. It means Zain's legacy will live on long after his death, not just in his impact on his family, but the Children's Hospital's work for all families in Seattle. Condolence messages are now pouring in for the family via social media as many mourn the Nadella son's loss.

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