Earlier this week, Ford CEO Alan Mulally ended months of speculation and confirmed he is taking himself out of the running to be Microsoft's next chief executive. However, a new report claims Mulally was actually interested in taking on the Microsoft CEO gig before Steve Ballmer announced his retirement in August.
Citing unidentified sources, The Wall Street Journal reports that, in late 2012, Mulally told an acquaintance that the only two companies he would be interested in joining once he retired from Ford were Microsoft and Google. Mulally and Ford have said he will stay with the company at least through the end of the year.
Mulally never confirmed nor denied that Microsoft was considering him for its CEO. However, today's report claims that Mulally decided to pull out of the process for a few reasons. One was that he thought Microsoft was leaking information about the search process; another was that he was concerned about Ballmer and chairman Bill Gates remaining on Microsoft's board of directors.
Gates has already said he plans to spend "considerable time" with whomever is picked to be Microsoft's new CEO, and a recent report this week claims that Gates will be "much more involved in the company going forward." That could be a concern for any CEO candidate, who might be afraid that any decision they make will be scrutinized by Gates and Ballmer. At the same time, however, the implication that Mulally wouldn't want to work with Ballmer is interesting since the two are known to be longtime friends. In a November interview with The Wall Street Journal, Ballmer explained how he sought Mulally's advice about how to strengthen Microsoft's brand and general management tactics.
A final decision from the Microsoft CEO search committee is supposed to happen sometime in early 2014, although no announcement is expected in January, in part because Gates is working on the annual letter for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Source: Wall Street Journal | Image via Ford