Microsoft narrows CEO search down to two candidates

Steven Loeb · November 29, 2013 · Short URL:

Ford CEO Alan Mulally, and Microsoft EVP Satya Nadella, are the most likely to get the job

Steve Ballmer announced his intention to retire as Microsoft CEO within a year only three months ago, but the company is already narrowing down his potential replacements.

It seems to be coming down to whether or not the company wants to hire from within or without.

The two leading candidates right now are Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally and Satya Nadella,
executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group, according to a report from Bloomberg on Thursday.

Other potential candidates whose names have been mentioned include former Nokia Oyj CEO Stephen Elop, Microsoft's business development and evangelism chief Tony Bates, and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner.

Bates and Elop, however, are not considered likely candidates at this moment. 

It’s doubtful that anyone has been offered the job yet, though and Ford is denying that Mulally has made any decisions on what his next move might be.

“There is no change from what we announced last November,” Jay Cooney, a spokesman at Ford, told Bloomberg. “Alan remains completely focused on executing our One Ford plan. We do not engage in speculation.”

Microsoft's board of directors, including founder and former CEO Bill Gates, met on November 18th to discuss the progress of the CEO search. Gates has said that the company has met with many candidates, and, presumably, Mulally and Nadella most fit the criteria.

The board met on Nov. 18 about the CEO search, Microsoft chairman and co-founder Bill Gates said at a shareholder meeting last week. Gates said he and other directors have met with “a lot of CEO candidates.” He declined to give a timeline for the decision, adding that “it’s a complex role to fill.

The ideal candidates, as noted by a document prepared by the board for the CEO search, would be someone with an “extensive track record in managing complex, global organizations within a fast-paced and highly competitive market sector; track record of delivering top and bottom line results. Proven ability to lead a multi-billion dollar organization and large employee base."

VatorNews has reached out to Microsoft for comment on this report. We will update if we learn anything more. 

If history is any guide, it will likely be Nadella who gets the job, though that history is, admittedly, very short.

Microsoft has only had two CEOs: Gates and Ballmer, took over the role in January of 2000. Ballmer was a Microsoft lifer at that point: he began working at the company all the way back in 1980, as the first business manager hired by Gates. 

So it would be keeping with the company's history to hire something with an extensive history with the company and that is what Satya Nadella has. He has been working at Microsoft since 1992,  as the senior vice president of R&D for the Online Services Division and vice president of the Microsoft Business Division.

What Alan Mulally lacks in internal company knowledge, though, he more than makes up for in executive experience. He has been the President and CEO of Ford Motor Company since September of 2006, and before that he worked at Boeing for 38 years, where he was CEO and President of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

He was passed over as CEO of the Boeing Company in 2003, but that company is speculated to be wooing him now as well.

Whoever gets the job, they should know right off the bat what they are getting themselves into, and what the board will expect of them.

Ballmer recently revealed that reason he decided to retire was because of pressure to be less diligent, and to work faster, by the board of directors.

"Maybe I'm an emblem of an old era, and I have to move on," Ballmer said.  "As much as I love everything about what I'm doing the best way for Microsoft to enter a new era is a new leader who will accelerate change."

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