Report: Microsoft has already contacted two internal, eight external candidates about CEO position


Ford CEO Alan Mulally is reportedly a popular candidate among Microsoft stockholders to replace Steve Ballmer.

Microsoft's search for CEO Steve Ballmer's replacement has reportedly been heating up for weeks, and a new report from The Wall Street Journal claims the search committee has already discussed the position with two internal executives and eight external candidates.

Tony Bates, head of Microsoft's Skype subsidiary, and Satya Nadella, Microsoft's cloud and enterprise leader, are the two internal candidates who have already met with at least one search committee member, according to a Friday report from The Journal. Bates' candidacy is notable as he works with Microsoft's OEM and strategic partners, while one of Nadella's strongest qualities is that he heads a rapidly growing area of the company.

The perceived external front-runner, Ford CEO Alan Mulally, allegedly has the backing of Ballmer, though The Journal notes that he may not have any sway in the search. Mulally has served as an adviser to Ballmer in recent years, even giving input on Microsoft's recent reorganization.

Other individuals who have reportedly been contacted include Oracle executive Mark Hurd, who previously served as HP's CEO; Nokia executive Stephen Elop, a former Microsoft executive who recently served as Nokia's CEO; Infor CEO Charles Phillips, a former Oracle executive; and Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz, a former Microsoft executive. Hurd has allegedly said he has no interest in becoming Microsoft's CEO, but it's unclear whether any of the other executives the search committee has contacted have removed themselves from the running.

None of the newly named alleged candidates in a recent Variety article – including the CEOs of Verizon, NBCUniversal and General Electric – are mentioned in The Journal's report.

Search committee members are debating whether they want a chief executive with experience in the technology industry or someone who has led a large company that can help Microsoft run "more efficiently," The Journal says. The committee is reportedly considering whether current Microsoft executives can help alleviate any "shortcomings" Ballmer's potential successor would have in either area.

Notably, Microsoft co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates, Ballmer's predecessor, hasn't revealed who he supporters to lead Microsoft when Ballmer retires within a year. 

Mulally remains a top choice among Microsoft stockholders to succeed Ballmer, primarily because he's viewed as an executive who would be willing to scuttle unprofitable divisions from the company. The Ford CEO did just that at his current company, selling Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo. Microsoft's Bing and Xbox businesses remain unpopular among investors, who say the products only lose money. Conversely, supporters of the products say they're heavily integrated in the company's other offerings and improve its overall brand.

Source: The Wall Street Journal | Image via Ford

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I have a feeling that in 3 years, people will be crying to have Steve Ballmer back, just like today when everyone wishes Bill Gates was still in charge.

So you are saying in 3 years from now, MSFT will be in a much worse situation than they are in today? For once, I think we both agree on something.

Honestly the best thing is someone outside the company who's also got an engineering background. If it's someone internal or someone who used to work at MS at some point it's no different IMO.

Not that I expect the new CEO to make any drastic business changes like selling groups off or anything like that that some analysts think is needed.

If Mulally takes charge, we can kiss everything WP, Xbox, and w8 goodbye! Them stockholders just wanna **** everything up for the sake of their money.

lubba said,
If Mulally takes charge, we can kiss everything WP, Xbox, and w8 goodbye! Them stockholders just wanna **** everything up for the sake of their money.

+1 not to mention Bing. He will get rid of all loss making divisions. It would make sense to get rid of them except these divisions will make profit in future and require that kind of investment. Xbox is the classic example.

Lord Method Man said,
If that's the case here's hoping Mulally gets the job and kills off the failed Windows 8/RT/Metro platform for good.

Haha! Thats not how things work If this was true, MS would have killed quite a few divisions which were making losses but now are making huge profits.

Skype is an awfully run product. Every release adds features while also removing useful features, plus they seem to be supporting other platforms better than their own! If that's his idea of leadership, then I am a bit confused.

In fact, it got so bad that I actually went back to using Gmail's video chat.

pickypg said,
Skype is an awfully run product. Every release adds features while also removing useful features, plus they seem to be supporting other platforms better than their own! If that's his idea of leadership, then I am a bit confused.

In fact, it got so bad that I actually went back to using Gmail's video chat.

I spend probably 5-6 hours a workday on skype not to mention I make internet to physical calls regularly etc. I have no idea what you're going on about. My only complaint about their service atm is lag when sharing screens on the desktop. On my Windows Phone I wish it had a fuller feature set, but it's been moving forward very quickly.

My fiancee and I video chat every night as she is going to Law School a few hours away, and we had to switch from Skype due to frequently dropped connections and various features that come and go based on the version (honestly, I cannot remember which features anymore because I stopped using it over two months ago).

It may be that we are having issues because she's on Skype with a Mac and I'm using Windows 8, but it most definitely happens. Skype on my WP was eating my battery in the background, so I uninstalled it (haven't installed it for months since switching from the 920 to the 1020, so perhaps they have fixed this issue).

pickypg said,
My fiancee and I video chat every night as she is going to Law School a few hours away, and we had to switch from Skype due to frequently dropped connections and various features that come and go based on the version (honestly, I cannot remember which features anymore because I stopped using it over two months ago).

It may be that we are having issues because she's on Skype with a Mac and I'm using Windows 8, but it most definitely happens. Skype on my WP was eating my battery in the background, so I uninstalled it (haven't installed it for months since switching from the 920 to the 1020, so perhaps they have fixed this issue).

I'd love to know which features as they haven't removed any I'm aware of and I've been using it heavily as I am now for years.

As far as on your 920 or your 1020. I'm sorry, but you have other issues besides skype.

MrHumpty said,
As far as on your 920 or your 1020. I'm sorry, but you have other issues besides skype.
I assure you, it's not my preference to use Google chat for video.

I can appreciate that you love Skype, but reality stinks, and so do Skype's application developers (their codec developers on the other hand are great).

Things that I can remember in Skype:

1. Loopback audio feedback (a chirping that builds up until one side mutes the other for a second). (This is _probably_ the Mac client's fault, but the Windows client _is_ participating in the loopback, as it does not happen when I Skype with my brother Windows-to-Windows)
2. Skype on Windows 8 is still lacking a ton of features by comparison to the desktop. My brother had a development question, and we had to use a separate tool for screen sharing (built-in Windows "invitation" for screen sharing, which continues to work well) because we were not using the desktop version. To some degree, I expect this is a Microsoft "strategy" trying to keep people in metro and off of the desktop, but it still loses a major existing feature.
3. Connectivity drops if your connection is not amazing. I used to have Verizon FiOS and I knew that any connection issues, or bandwidth degradation was the fault of the other side. I now have Cox Cable, which is generally unpredictable. This is what drove us back to Google's version, which is far less useful (chat and video chat are for some reason separate), but it at least stays connected. Occasionally the voice and video would get out of sync on the Windows client.
4. The behavior of the small screen that stays on top changes in almost every desktop version. This is where my fiancee and I had the most trouble. (Side issue: it does not exist in the Metro version, but that's sadly expected)
5. Skype is not driving innovation. Skype should be the poster child for horizontal slices of the screen in Windows 8.1 (and now 8.2) rather than just vertical slices (I don't need a full vertical slice for Skype on my 24" monitors). In fact, the only useful feature that I have seen come from Skype in the last two years is their codec developers assisting with the Opus codec (which is admittedly very impressive, but so is the Skype codec, SILK).

I'll preface this with I too don't love skype but it, to me, is tons better than Google's video offering for one to one or one to a few communications.

pickypg said,
1. Loopback audio feedback (a chirping that builds up until one side mutes the other for a second). (This is _probably_ the Mac client's fault, but the Windows client _is_ participating in the loopback, as it does not happen when I Skype with my brother Windows-to-Windows)
I've noticed this. It seems to be device dependent. On my HTC Titan it blew goats. On my Surface RT I have this problem a bit. On my 1020 or computer with my lifecam. I think the noise cancelling that Skype relies on is from the device or its drivers. If you're on a substandard device (microphone) it will loopback.
pickypg said,
2. Skype on Windows 8 is still lacking a ton of features by comparison to the desktop. My brother had a development question, and we had to use a separate tool for screen sharing (built-in Windows "invitation" for screen sharing, which continues to work well) because we were not using the desktop version. To some degree, I expect this is a Microsoft "strategy" trying to keep people in metro and off of the desktop, but it still loses a major existing feature.
I'd love to see screen sharing on a device but it requires the device carry two video signals to the device, have support for showing the different video signals and finally have a way of making it usable. On a phone that would require zooming into parts of and panning around the shared desktop video. I don't really know how you count that as a huge mark against them. Obviously the Modern version of skype is far behind the desktop version but that has less to do with Skype and more to do with the immaturity of WinRT. I'm convinced it was barely finished before Win8 RTM'd all app developers have been playing catch-up or are waiting for 8.1 to be in the wild to use the new WinRT apis. I'm purely talking about desktop though... I'll never defend their modern version.
pickypg said,
3. Connectivity drops if your connection is not amazing. I used to have Verizon FiOS and I knew that any connection issues, or bandwidth degradation was the fault of the other side. I now have Cox Cable, which is generally unpredictable. This is what drove us back to Google's version, which is far less useful (chat and video chat are for some reason separate), but it at least stays connected. Occasionally the voice and video would get out of sync on the Windows client.
I won't say I've never seen disconnects. But I spend 8 hour chunks on the same call between Cox and ATT-UVerse. We've had some wonky connections but if anything it just falls back to lowres. The only time we get disconnected regularly is if we're hoping VPN's to different customers via different VPN clients. At that point it's a crapshoot... but the auto-reconnect always kicks in. Google may just have more tolerance for packetloss in your case.
pickypg said,
4. The behavior of the small screen that stays on top changes in almost every desktop version. This is where my fiancee and I had the most trouble. (Side issue: it does not exist in the Metro version, but that's sadly expected)
Right there with you on this one. I turned this feature off by accident once and it took forever for me to figure out how to turn it on. As far as the modern one... it's never going to happen. The point of these windowless platforms (which I don't really like much) is to keep that kind of functionality turned off... sadly. Snap view is your only savior.
pickypg said,
5. Skype is not driving innovation. Skype should be the poster child for horizontal slices of the screen in Windows 8.1 (and now 8.2) rather than just vertical slices (I don't need a full vertical slice for Skype on my 24" monitors). In fact, the only useful feature that I have seen come from Skype in the last two years is their codec developers assisting with the Opus codec (which is admittedly very impressive, but so is the Skype codec, SILK).
I don't really get what you're talking about with slices? Granted I agree that they aren't really driving innovation, though it's traversal of digital to physical communications is really really nice. I use skype numbers, text messages, call land lines etc. all the time with mine and that is just plain awesome.

I'd like to see Elop or Mulally in the big chair. Elop did (whether you like it or not) a very good job at Nokia doing exactly what he was asked to do. Mulally did a fantastic job at turning Ford around, and has experience with vertical integration. I think either would do a fantastic job at MS.

Osiris said,
Elop or gtfo

Elop is by far the most polarizing candidate. Seems people either think he'll lead Microsoft to the promise land or want him to be tied up and thrown to the bottom of the ocean.

Elop would do a good job in making Microsoft worth a fraction of what they are today in a few short years, so they can be swooped up by some other company and he could get a multi-million dollar payday.

recursive said,
Elop would do a good job in making Microsoft worth a fraction of what they are today in a few short years, so they can be swooped up by some other company and he could get a multi-million dollar payday.

Incredible how may idiots like to give their expertise with no base argument. What Elop did was save Nokia but oh no Nokia did not become a huge success when he took reign so he must be bad. At least they survived and came back to healthy status.

Yes, he saved Nokia by:
1. Making their shares plummet so the company is worth a fraction of its former self
2. Declare their flagship devices dead before they were even available
3. Declaring all Linux based projects dead, and betting the whole company on an unproven OS from Microsoft
4. Burn all relations with channel partners
5. Sell the company off to Microsoft, and get $25 million as a bonus.

Yes, that is what all sane CEO's who have the company's best interests at heart do.

Mortis said,
Save Nokia? By burying the acclaimed N9? By trumpeting the death of Symbian? (Nokia shared plummeted instantly after announce).

Elop is either a:
1. A mediocre/bad CEO, highly overrated
2. A brilliant MS trojan horse

You pick.

Interesting literature to read:
http://communities-dominate.bl...fect-and-ratner-effect.html


That's a massive revisionist history. There's no doubt Nokia didn't do well financially when Elop took over, but it was already on a downhill path. There is no way on the planet latching onto Symbian would have saved them, and the N9 was acclaimed, but its Windows Phone products have been acclaimed as well.

Now, did Elop do as well as he should have? That's open for debate. But saying those moves in particular were what led to Nokia's failing doesn't make sense.

Elop was hired to sell off the mobile division. He wasn't even hired to be a real CEO, and now you want him to take over for a company vastly larger and be a real CEO? You guys are insane with this Elop fascination.

What's amusing is that all of you Elop lovers seem to have convinced yourself he was a great CEO at Nokia and all the rest of us are crazy for not seeing it. I think some of you have been living in a different world than the rest of us.

AJerman said,
Elop was hired to sell off the mobile division. He wasn't even hired to be a real CEO, and now you want him to take over for a company vastly larger and be a real CEO? You guys are insane with this Elop fascination.

What's amusing is that all of you Elop lovers seem to have convinced yourself he was a great CEO at Nokia and all the rest of us are crazy for not seeing it. I think some of you have been living in a different world than the rest of us.


Elop wasn't hired to sell of Nokia's mobile division -- that's simply untrue. He was hired to turn Nokia around and he didn't do it.

I don't know how anyone can say he was a "great CEO" or even a good one, but he wasn't in a very good situation either. Additionally, you seem to be discounting his job at Microsoft and Macromedia. At the latter company he was vital in the massive expansion of Flash across the Internet.

Give him credit for both his successes and failings.

Anthony Tosie said,

Elop wasn't hired to sell of Nokia's mobile division -- that's simply untrue. He was hired to turn Nokia around and he didn't do it.

I don't know how anyone can say he was a "great CEO" or even a good one, but he wasn't in a very good situation either. Additionally, you seem to be discounting his job at Microsoft and Macromedia. At the latter company he was vital in the massive expansion of Flash across the Internet.

Give him credit for both his successes and failings.


Read all the articles about how he earned his bonus by selling the mobile division to Microsoft. There's a lot of questions and a little reading between the lines, but to me that sure sounds like it was the plan all along. Get the mobile division attractive to a potential buyer, preferably Microsoft, and ship it off. It's not a bad move by Nokia. Blackberry could have tried to do the same, but instead they're riding their failures into the grave.

I'm not saying he hasn't had any success, but not the kind of success to make him a CEO of a company like Microsoft. His other previous CEO gig at Macromedia was a quick sell off as well. I'd like to see him hold a successful CEO position before trying to take on a company like Microsoft. There are FAR more qualified candidates out there.

AJerman said,

Read all the articles about how he earned his bonus by selling the mobile division to Microsoft. There's a lot of questions and a little reading between the lines, but to me that sure sounds like it was the plan all along. Get the mobile division attractive to a potential buyer, preferably Microsoft, and ship it off. It's not a bad move by Nokia. Blackberry could have tried to do the same, but instead they're riding their failures into the grave.

I'm not saying he hasn't had any success, but not the kind of success to make him a CEO of a company like Microsoft. His other previous CEO gig at Macromedia was a quick sell off as well. I'd like to see him hold a successful CEO position before trying to take on a company like Microsoft. There are FAR more qualified candidates out there.


I'm well aware of the bonus. You're discounting what his stock would have been worth had he turned Nokia around: http://www.forbes.com/profile/stephen-a-elop/

I wasn't referring to his limited span as Macromedia's CEO, I was referring to the totality of his work there. I'm also not saying he's the most qualified or best candidate for the job, I'm saying you're not looking at the full picture of his body of work, including both successes and failures.