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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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