Microsoft CEO Speculation Focuses On Insiders

by CXOtoday News Desk    Jan 09, 2014


As the days are inching closer for Microsoft to name its new CEO, the company’s succession plans are becoming increasingly speculative. The latest buzz is that with Ford CEO Alan Mulally pulling out of the CEO race, the software giant will refocus on internal choices.

Mulally pulls out

After Steve Ballmer announced his retirement from the company in August last year, it was reported that Alan Mulally, Ford’s CEO, is likely to become the leading candidate to head Microsoft. Mulaly, known to be one of the most highly respected CEOs in the industry today and transforming Ford’s business was considered the right fit to bring in innovation in Microsoft products, an area where it has faltered in making the transition to the fast-growing mobile phone and tablet from pure-play PCs. 

Brian Johnson, a Barclay analyst told The Wall Street Journal earlier that Alan has fundamentally transformed Ford both in simplifying its brand portfolio and developing a system that coherently exploits scale while generating interesting, exciting product. “This is exactly the kind of ‘energy’ Microsoft needs to become more relevant in the business world today.” At the same time, when Microsoft was going through an internal crisis and there was a greater need for collaboration, Ballmer realigned the company for greater efficiency and for this premeditated strategy, he consulted with Mulally, his old pal.

[Ford to Microsoft: Can Mulally make the transition?]

However, Mulally told the Associated Press that he would remain at Ford through 2014. In fact a source familiar with the process said that Mulally seemed to be interested in the job, but Microsoft never made him an offer.

The potential insiders

While the company’s succession plans now remain speculative, a Reuters report says internal candidates now seemed the obvious ones. Some of the potential insiders according to the report are Satya Nadella, executive vice president of the Cloud & Enterprise group and Tony Bates, executive vice president of Business Development and Evangelism. Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, a Microsoft veteran before moving to Nokia, has also been cited as a top candidate.

If the company does opt for an external CEO, candidates could include Facebook chief operator officer Sheryl Sandberg, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger and Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz, according to analysts.

Lead independent director John Thompson emphasized in the company’s official blog that the company will have a CEO with good tech bonafides and somebody with “an ability to lead a highly technical organization and work with top technical talent.”

Meanwhile, the name of the new CEO is likely to be announced in the early part of 2014, said the Reuters report.