The biggest headcount reduction in Microsoft’s history was driven by a need to invest in new technologies rather than the company’s bottom line, an advisor to CEO Satya Nadella said Wednesday.

“Any student of the history of the tech industry will see that the mistake companies make from one generation to the next is not taking spend off of legacy products … and putting it on new things fast enough,” said Jeff Teper [cq], Microsoft’s head of corporate stretagy, at a financial analyst conference.

He didn’t mention Nadella’s predecessor by name, but Steve Ballmer was often criticized during his tenure for failing to react quickly to opportunities in search, social networking and mobile. Those were mistake Nadella wanted to avoid.

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