Here are some people who could take over the CEO spot at Microsoft

Steve Ballmer's retirement announcement from Microsoft this morning was a surprising one, in that no one expected it for a few more years at least. However, the company is apparently wasting no time in launching a special committee that will help choose Ballmer's successor when he departs sometime in the next 12 months.

The big question: who should the committee pick to take over one of the biggest tech companies in the world? Should they go the easy route and pick someone that's aleady been working at Microsoft and knows the company and its people? Or should they take a risk and pick someone who comes from outside the organization and who might shake things up for the better?

There are a ton of possible candidates for the job, both from within and from outside Microsoft. Here are just a few of them:

Julie Larson-Green

The former head of Windows development is now in charge of Microsoft's hardware related activities as part of the "One Microsoft" reorganization and is also in charge of the games and entertainment studios. The special committee will certainly be looking at her as a successor to Ballmer based on her experience and knowledge of a number of the company's divisions.

Terry Myerson

Myerson is currently in charge of all Windows and Xbox software development at Microsoft after previously being the head of Windows Phone. Even though software has less of an emphasis at the company nowadays, he has been known to make some bold moves, such as dumping Windows Mobile completely and starting fresh with Windows Phone.

Tony Bates

After serving as the head of Skype, Bates is now in change of Business Development and Evangelism at Microsoft. Skype has been a huge part of Microsoft's product lineup since Skype was acquired in October 2011 and Bates was a big factor in that effort. He will certainly be a person that the special committee might strongly consider.

The list of people outside Microsoft that the special committee might look at is a bit more nebulous, but we have a couple of ideas about that as well.

Stephen Elop

The current head of Nokia was previously a Microsoft executive and of course Nokia is pretty much joined at the hip to Microsoft these days thanks to their tight Windows Phone relationship. Elop knows Microsoft perhaps better than any top tech CEO today and would be someone the special committee might look at to take over from Ballmer.

Vic Gundotra

Gundotra is also a former Microsoft executive who worked for years at the company and helped to create its .NET software framework before moving to Google in 2007. He quickly moved up the ranks and is now the Senior Vice President, Engineering for the company. However, he could leave that behind if he was offered a chance to be in complete charge of Microsoft.

Images via Microsoft, Nokia and Google

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I think it should be an outsider. Someone who knows how to run the devices and services company that MS has become. This person should also understand touch and mobility and its place within the PC industry. Someone from Google would be good imo.

I think it will also motivate the employees. Most senior executives eventually get a bad rep even if they are perfectly qualified. One bad judgement call or one bad lay-off and employees lose faith. A big part of succes comes from motivated employees. A qualified outsider has a blank sheet. I think Microsoft needs that more then someone who knows the company through and through.

gb8080 said,
Anybody but Dot Matrix ;-)
Or, at least, somebody that understands what Win8 needs.

I could tell you what Windows doesn't need anymore, but you wouldn't like it.

gb8080 said,
Or, at least, somebody that understands what Win8 needs.

The guy that runs StarDock could do a great job right now - he gets it!

gb8080 said,

The guy that runs StarDock could do a great job right now - he gets it!

No, Stardock doesn't get it. You can't develop for just the desktop anymore. Mobile systems are a part of people's everyday lives, and mobile/stationary convergence is a goal for all of the major tech companies.

There is nothing wrong with creating new UIs. Metro is just another way of doing the same things you did on the desktop. The only difference is, it's future-proof.

I don't think it will be Green or Meyerson, they just got put in place as heads of the new division.
For all of us this might come as a surprise, but I would assume that the board of directors and the upper management new this for a while.

Just seems silly for them to run that division for just a short while

I think Scott Guthrie would be a nice choice, He knows his way around MS and he's also a competent speaker

My money's on Elop, hint; the mention Balmers departure was 'set up' around four years ago. I still feel Elop was sent to Nokia to be groomed as a big company CEO and IMO he has done an excellent job in putting his vision forward, showing willingness to take chances and sticking to it and making the damn thing work..

AT this point in time Nokia _is_ Windows Phone and rules supreme in the Ecosystem. IF MSFT were to acquire Nokia they will gain a hugely important networking division, state of the art hardware design and development and a hugely important patent portfolio in the mobile phone industry (if not the most important). The price will probably be astronomical as Nokia Stock will surge when speculation starts and news gets out but it will be worth it. Nokia is exactly what MSFT needs to become the 'devices and services' company they want to become and IMO Elop would fit the bill in every way knowing both companies well and being a competent and experienced leader.

My money is on Scott Guthrie. He's a genius. Wherever he goes, he turns around that division and makes it the best in the industry. Case in point, the Tools division he led, got so strong that the other tools vendors all but vanished. Now that he's in the Azure Division, Windows Azure has risen in popularity faster than anyone would imagined and is now a strong billion dollar performer. They might as well put him in charge of all of Microsoft. and see what will happen to Windows Phone, and Xbox... Can't wait

My money is on Scott Guthrie.. Wherever he goes, he turns around that division to the better (see, Tools and Windows Azure divisions)

yowanvista said,
Elop? God no, that trojan horse has done enough damage to Nokia during the last couple of years.

"Damage"... You mean saving Nokia?

yowanvista said,
Elop? God no, that trojan horse has done enough damage to Nokia during the last couple of years.

nokia damaged itself before they turned around. they are on track to recovery as HTC sinks ever deeper in the Samsung shadow that is android. Elop was right. Android = death for nokia.

Dot Matrix said,

"Damage"... You mean saving Nokia?

Saving what?????

If he was a doctor, and Nokia was a patient, and he know that giving Nokia the Windows Phone pill will reduce it's favor, but combining it with the Android pill will make it super healthy, they he had to give it both pills.

The ultimate stupidity is to ignore what is right, and choose what is half right which is actually wrong.

Only Neowin would think Elop would be a good idea. Elop has kept Nokia just barely struggling to stay afloat. He's lucky he's even done that as it's looked like it was over for them several times. I suspect MS has had a hand in why they haven't failed several times already anyway. You know MS is pumping them big money with as big of a partner as they are. They wouldn't still exist without as close of a partnership and cash flow of MS.

It would be useful to present history as accurate - Elop chose Microsoft's OS, but with the recommendation of the board - since this also included Microsoft's bailout cash, it probably had a hand in the decision. As I've mentioned before, Elop actually has Nokia fairly stable at the moment, but their long-term debt increases year over year which isn't necessarily a good thing if they can't start turning good profits soon.

warwagon said,
Oh for the love of god not Julie Larson-Green

A) She's a horrible speaker
B) Wasn't she the designer or Metro?

none of these execs actually do anything such as "design". they just ok things and she wasn't in charge of win8, steven s. was.

Fer63 said,
What about Bill Gates?
Too busy doing actual good in the world, like ridding certain diseases and promoting education in the world's poorest places.

MeowPurr said,
Elop, Elop, Elop, Elop, Elop, Elop, Elop.

??? why do you hate Microsoft so much ??? isn't enough that he destroyed Nokia, now you want him to destroy Microsoft too?

john.smith_2084 said,

??? why do you hate Microsoft so much ??? isn't enough that he destroyed Nokia, now you want him to destroy Microsoft too?

what????? Nokia is failing? How come it's never made as headline

Do you even know he was VP of Office, which hasn't has failed product till this time

Actually, Elop made the decision to use WP as Nokia's primary OS, but there was input from the board (and Microsoft's cash probably helped make the decision, although no one really makes money on Android other than Samsung, and Nokia would have taken that into account even in 2011, as the market was already coalescing on Samsung as the 800lb Android gorilla). He's largely saved the company from going under with Microsoft's help, although I'm sure there were hopes he'd have done better. They've got a lot of long term debt, but their liabilities are down. I personally still think they'll either eventually get acquired or go under, but the ship is at least stable, for now. That's better than the free-fall they were in before Elop came on board, and before they made the decision to use Microsoft's OS and their money.

Edited by cluberti, Aug 26 2013, 6:13am :

I'm not sure I see Vic as something Microsoft wants. Others may want it, maybe Vic himself, but there are plenty of other good candidates right now. An option though? Definitely.

I can't help but think how Yahoo's CEO and her actions/performance will affect Green. It shouldn't, but I know people are probably thinking it.

I tend to say that MS need a good manager with charisma and visions, not necessarily a "technican". From this point of view, nobody from this list.

I would put Steven Sinofsky in as CEO because he was a techie and smart. Furthermore, this is similar to what happened to Steve Jobs @ Apple (I SAID SIMILAR). Oh the irony if this could happen.

Shyatic said,
They need a developer in the CEO chair. Somebody with vision. I vote for Vic.
What I think you really meant is putting someone with a good technical background as a CEO. In most cases, the worst thing you could do is putting a developer in a managerial position.

Studio384 said,
Where is Joe? You know, the Windows Phone guy that's almost at every Microsoft presentation, etc.

Wait you think people can still work there way up to a CEO in a place like MS? No chance they would rather employ a fresh uni graduate than someone with 20 years experience as the office admin or shadow CEO.

They will employ whoever has had the most success and made the most money, this is what the shareholders wants.. more money. Whoever has made whoever the most money out of this lot will get it.

MrAnalysis said,
Wait you think people can still work there way up to a CEO in a place like MS? No chance they would rather employ a fresh uni graduate than someone with 20 years experience as the office admin or shadow CEO.

They will employ whoever has had the most success and made the most money, this is what the shareholders wants.. more money. Whoever has made whoever the most money out of this lot will get it.

Or... just for a moment lets try to use reason... I know it's hard but try.

Joe is a visionary. He's a design and experience guy. Do you really want a guy who is not a businessman at the head of a huge business like Microsoft? I mean there are dozens of divisions in every country of the world servicing dozens of markets/verticals. Perhaps, and don't hate me for saying this, just perhaps you'd want someone who has a broad knowledge about business and finance who appeals to those who want the business ran well so that it will generate profits rather than someone who could build a great product and experience but not run the company well generating losses.

MrHumpty said,
Or... just for a moment lets try to use reason... I know it's hard but try.

Joe is a visionary. He's a design and experience guy. Do you really want a guy who is not a businessman at the head of a huge business like Microsoft? I mean there are dozens of divisions in every country of the world servicing dozens of markets/verticals. Perhaps, and don't hate me for saying this, just perhaps you'd want someone who has a broad knowledge about business and finance who appeals to those who want the business ran well so that it will generate profits rather than someone who could build a great product and experience but not run the company well generating losses.

It's just how it works man, If you want to be a CEO become rich and have friends or work your way up in some crappy company then move to a less crappy one and be there CEO then move again to an even less crappy one and so on.

Who cares if he is the best man for the job, the shareholders want someone they know can handle that position and bring in the money, some rookie with no experience as a main CEO just don't cut it. Not worth the risk go with someone safe, that you know at worst will do an ok job.

IMO I can see MS buying Nokia phone Div , and then when Steve leaves, they will have Elop take over , he know both worlds

So my Money is on Elop

As a loyal iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro user AND a Windows Phone/Metro fanboy who's thinking to switch to Lumia, all I can say is GOD PLEASE, NO. Cook should not be CEO of any tech company; CEO should be a creative, visionary person like Gates or Jobs, not a businessman.

I don't know how to explain that because english is not my mother tongue, I hope you get my point.

Fritzly said,
Elop or Mayerson would be the the best thing ever happened..... for MS competitors....

Yahoo's Marissa may be worse. she's more interested in being a model than helping a sinking ship.

DesiSpark said,
Stephen Elop .... or/ Vic Gundotra ... both looks good and strong.

Stephen Elop can stay at Nokia and Vic can stay at Google. Nokia has made progress, but Vic Gundotra ? for what achivement ? Google+ ?

Nooo just noooooo none of these.

If Ben Affleck can be Batman then Steve Wozniak can be CEO of microsoft. MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Additionally, Julie Larson-Green is like travesti from the many plastic surgeries... I guess many won't be able to be productive/efficient seeing her unhealthful, anti-touristic face every day.

Is this how Metro UI and the removal of Start Menu became reality?

PC EliTiST said,
Additionally, Julie Larson-Green is like travesti from the many plastic surgeries... I guess many won't be able to be productive/efficient seeing her unhealthful, anti-touristic face every day.

Is this how Metro UI and the removal of Start Menu became reality?


I guess you never visited Madam Arthur in Paris....

Hmmm... the Stephen Elop addition is interesting, but I think that would only happen if Nokia was acquired by MS in the deal. Nokia is moving fast these days with devices and purpose and personally I'd like to see that continue under Mr. Elop's leadership. Windows Phone and Windows RT will likely merge next year in terms of the development cycle and thus be on the same development cycle as Windows in general. It will be interesting to see if that raises Nokia's status or lowers it since they will effectively just become another Windows OEM. Time will tell.

Drewidian said,
Hmmm... the Stephen Elop addition is interesting, but I think that would only happen if Nokia was acquired by MS in the deal. Nokia is moving fast these days with devices and purpose and personally I'd like to see that continue under Mr. Elop's leadership. Windows Phone and Windows RT will likely merge next year in terms of the development cycle and thus be on the same development cycle as Windows in general. It will be interesting to see if that raises Nokia's status or lowers it since they will effectively just become another Windows OEM. Time will tell.
There is a lot of good things MS could get from bringing Nokia onboard. Nokia is moving fast and MS needs to.

I think Elop and Microsoft acquiring Nokia will be good way to go as Microsoft will focus a lot on hardware in next 5 years.

Possibly Bill will return? ^^