Report names several new Microsoft CEO candidates that seem unlikely


Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will retire within a year, he recently announced.

Variety, a entertainment industry trade publication, published a report Tuesday naming what it claims are several new candidates for Microsoft's chief executive position, though they all seem extremely unlikely to be chosen for the position.

According to Variety's article, John Thompson, the Microsoft board member leading the CEO search, could "very well" end up picking himself to replace Steve Ballmer when he retires from the position within the next year. Thompson previously served as the CEO of Symantec and is currently the CEO of Virtual Instruments. Prior to those two positions, Thompson spent about 25 years at IBM.

In a recent interview, Thompson said he wouldn't be a "pawn" to former Microsoft CEO and current Chairman Bill Gates, though he was complimentary of the company's founder. Despite his accolades, however, few board members leading CEO searches name themselves to the positions they're seeking candidates for. Additionally, Microsoft's top spot will have several well-known names that would likely be supported by investors and other board members.

Other candidates Variety's report names include NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt, Juniper Networks CEO Kevin Johnson and former Microsoft executive Steven Sinofsky. Johnson is a former Microsoft executive who led the company's Windows division prior to leaving for Juniper, a position Sinofsky overtook about a year later. Sinofsky's unceremonious exit from Microsoft shortly after Windows 8's release would likely send mixed signals to employees and investors if he were chosen as chief executive, especially given the company's recent reorganization.

Under Sinofsky's tenure, fighting between Microsoft's divisions was reportedly rampant, with several current and former Microsoft executives allegedly calling his leadership controversial. The Windows division collaborated less with other Microsoft departments under Sinofsky's tenure, the executives said.

The other alleged candidates in Variety's report all at least have some technology backgrounds as well, though most don't have experience with many of Microsoft's key businesses, such as operating systems development, enterprise services and online services. Burke's technology experience primarily relates to on-demand offerings for his television networks, though he has little experience with almost any of the areas Microsoft does business.

Variety's article also mentions several candidates already reportedly at the top of Microsoft's list for a potential chief executive, including current Ford CEO Alan Mulally and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who will be rejoining Microsoft when its deal for Nokia's smartphone business completes, pending approval, early next year. Mulally and Elop have been widely reported to be front-runners for the position, though Microsoft's search is reportedly still in its early stages.

According to the report, Gates is "highly unlikely" to return as Microsoft's CEO, though it also seemingly contradicts itself by claiming he "is said to be considering the idea of putting his hat in the ring" – a reaction from the chairman that hasn't been corroborated by reputable technology outlets.

Notably absent from Variety's report is Microsoft executive Tony Bates, who leads the company's Skype subsidiary. Bates is one of Microsoft's top executives, responsible for a large portion of the company's business interactions, including working with the company's OEM and strategic partners.

Source: Variety | Image via Microsoft

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18 Comments

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If Microsoft pander to the current industry trend of over-inflated CEO salaries then they're all but done for.

We need an internal to rise above and take the helm under the same compensation package as his/her predecessors.

coderchi said,
I have my finger cross for Elop. Elop gives a good face to Microsoft and even haters can't help but to like the guy.

A good portion of people (myself included) see him as a weasel Trojan Horse that tanked Nokia stock and sold them out to Microsoft.

I agree that he's got a good shot at the CEO chair though either way. He's been very good for Microsoft.

Majesticmerc said,

A good portion of people (myself included) see him as a weasel Trojan Horse that tanked Nokia stock and sold them out to Microsoft.

I agree that he's got a good shot at the CEO chair though either way. He's been very good for Microsoft.

Well it's easy to accuse him of this but we all know that if Elop didn't do what he did, we would be talking of Nokia as we are of Blackberry. Android was not going to save them. The cash MS infuse into Nokia saved Nokia, Android(or Google) was not going to provide that.

Elop is far from a Trojan but If you want to troll about that and It makes you happy then troll away. True that Nokia could have kept building devices with Windows Phone and perhaps turn it around but there was more risk with that. If you have not notice, Nokia is back on the Map because they made such a good Reputation with Windows Phone.

Majesticmerc said,

A good portion of people (myself included) see him as a weasel Trojan Horse that tanked Nokia stock and sold them out to Microsoft.

That's because you walk around with your eyes, ears and mind closed. Stop doing that, it's dangerous.

coderchi said,

Well it's easy to accuse him of this but we all know that if Elop didn't do what he did, we would be talking of Nokia as we are of Blackberry. Android was not going to save them. The cash MS infuse into Nokia saved Nokia, Android(or Google) was not going to provide that.

Saved Nokia? As in "We're buying you out because you're running out of money" saved? You think what you want to think, but the facts don't lie. Nokia's smartphone division is (was?) in just as bad of shape as Blackberry is.

Since Elop Took Over, Nokia's share price has nearly HALVED, and until the Microsoft announcement, it was down as low as 4 dollars a share from nearly $12 when Elop took over (source: http://finance.yahoo.com/echar...gscale=off;source=undefined. Nokia's share price has only recovered since Microsoft announced the takeover of the handset division.

Smartphone shipments for Nokia are a little less dire than they are for Blackberry, but lets not start calling them major players yet. Nokia moved 7.4 million Lumias last quarter, and Blackberry shipped 6.8 million, they're both still struggling compared to the likes of Samsung, Apple, HTC, Sony, and such. (source: http://www.theguardian.com/tec...a-revenues-fall-lumia-sales). Granted, Lumia shipments are up versus last year, but Nokia Smartphone shipments are actually DOWN compared to a year ago when including Symbian and Meego devices.

Whether or not Android would have been good for Nokia is pretty much moot. Elop has done virtually nothing to help Nokia after 2 years in charge, and going off the raw statistics thus far, he actually made things worse.

coderchi said,

Elop is far from a Trojan but If you want to troll about that and It makes you happy then troll away. True that Nokia could have kept building devices with Windows Phone and perhaps turn it around but there was more risk with that. If you have not notice, Nokia is back on the Map because they made such a good Reputation with Windows Phone.

The following happened:
- Elop takes charge as a former Microsoft exec.
- Nokia "suddenly" goes all in with Windows Phone
- Nokia's default search engine becomes Bing for all Nokia phones.
- Over the course of the next 2 years, Nokia share price falls dramatically as Smartphone division goes from profitability to loss.
- Microsoft buys the Smartphone division of Nokia, leaving Nokia, the company that dominated the 2000s as the biggest phone manufacturer, without the ability to make mobile phones because of a no-compete clause with Microsoft (source: http://www.theverge.com/2013/9...be-another-nokia-smartphone)
- Elop makes a cool $25 million from tanking the share price and selling off the core part of the company.
- Elop states that he will move back to Microsoft as a Team leader (source http://www.neowin.net/news/mic...-devices--services-business).

Sounds pretty much like he gutted the company in preparation for a takeover to me.

Don't misunderstand me, I think Nokia is a great company that makes great phones, but from the above surely you see how easy it would be to think that Elop was there for Microsoft more than he was there fore Nokia, right?

Feel free to rebut any of my comments (providing sources of course).

Doomguy- said,

That's because you walk around with your eyes, ears and mind closed. Stop doing that, it's dangerous.

See above.

Not completely sure about it, but didn't Elop have included in his contract that he would get a bonus if he sold of the very part of the business that is now becoming part of MS?

So he did what the board of Nokia expected from him?

"- Elop takes charge as a former Microsoft exec.
- Nokia "suddenly" goes all in with Windows Phone"

It's now well known the Nokia board made the decision months before they hired Elop. He was hired as the best guy to implement it.

On the other hand, Elop was on the grassy mound in Houston the day Kennedy was shot and he was in NYC on 9/11. If you look very carefully at the famous picture of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon you'll also recognise Elop's face in the Lunar module's window.

This guy gets around.

Major_Plonquer said,
"- Elop takes charge as a former Microsoft exec.
- Nokia "suddenly" goes all in with Windows Phone"

It's now well known the Nokia board made the decision months before they hired Elop. He was hired as the best guy to implement it.

I hadn't read this. Source?

Yeah these names do seem unlikely. While Bates is cool, I don't think he'd be a good CEO for a gigantic corporation like Microsoft. While I'd love Gates to come back, I actually love his work for his non-profit foundation and would prefer him to stay there. Mr. Elop is a great candidate. I don't think I'd want any of those board members nominating themselves. A fresh face would be cool though.