Microsoft reportedly narrows CEO search to about five candidates


Stephen Elop, left, is scheduled to rejoin Microsoft early next year regardless of whether he's named its CEO.

Microsoft has reportedly narrowed its chief executive search to about five candidates, with two of those candidates being internal executives and another soon to be an internal executive.

According to a new Reuters report, Microsoft has cut its list of CEO candidates to include the following executives: Ford CEO Alan Mulally; former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who will rejoin Microsoft when it acquires Nokia's devices unit; former Skype CEO Tony Bates, now a Microsoft executive who works the company's business partners; and Satya Nadella, leader of Microsoft's cloud computing division. More candidates may be in the running, though their identities aren't known.

Though many expected Microsoft to name outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer's successor before the end of the year, Microsoft's decision "could still take a few more months," according to report's sources. Reuters states its sources also indicated that Microsoft is looking at a wide range of potential candidates, including candidates in the "life sciences and consumer" sectors. 

Microsoft reportedly narrowed its list to 10 candidates last month, including two internal and eight external candidates. Bates and Nadella have been rumored to be the leading internal candidates for the position since August, when Ballmer announced his decision to retire from the company within a year.

Mulally is widely believed to be the overall leading candidate, with Ballmer reportedly even throwing his support behind Ford's chief executive. Elop has his own band of supporters, however, primarily because of his history at Microsoft, where he once led the Office team, as well as his tenure as leader of Nokia, giving him both software and devices backgrounds. Microsoft has shifted its emphasis in recent years from simply being a software company to one that developers both software and hardware.

Bates is perhaps the dark horse of the group, having experience running Skype to also managing Microsoft's business partners; he has also handled acquisitions for the company.

Source: Reuters | Image via Microsoft

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