Microsoft’s CEO shortlist: Mulally, Elop in the fray

by CXOtoday News Desk    Nov 06, 2013


Among the top five candidates who can replace Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer are Ford Motor Chief Alan Mulally, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, former Skype CEO Tony Bates, who is now responsible for Microsoft’s business development, and Satya Nadella, the company’s cloud and enterprise chief, according to a Reuters report.

The report says that the company had initially started with 40 names and the list has now been narrowed to five candidates. The entire process is expected to take a few more months.

The strongest contender is perhaps Mulally who has been instrumental in bringing about a major cultural change that helped the Ford recover from its losses. But it is still not clear if Mulally will leave Ford as he is bound by an agreement to stay with Ford until the end of 2014.

Among the other strong contenders is Stephen Elop who was running Microsoft’s business software division before he joined Nokia in 2010. Elop will again return to Microsoft after the closure of its 5.44 billion euro acquisition of Nokia’s handset business.

The company has been facing voices of dissent against Chairman Bill Gates asking him to step down. Investors strongly feel that the company needs a turnaround expert who can align it with the new business realities of today.

Many believe that unless Gates moves out of the way, Microsoft will not be able to drive the much-needed revamp. The Reuters report says that members of the CEO search committee have been speaking with dissenting shareholders, according to sources familiar with the conversations.

Even though Microsoft still remains profitable, it has been losing out to new age companies like Google and Apple, particularly in the area of mobility.

Microsoft’s current chief Steve Ballmer recently said, while speaking at an event, that the company needs to reinvent itself to avoid being “old and tired” as it struggles to keep up in the mobile devices segment.

“We’re finding ourselves having to start up again,” Ballmer was quoted in an ET report. “Unless you’re constantly inventing something new, you’re old and tired. Today we’re having to remake ourselves,” said Ballmer.