Microsoft narrows CEO shortlist; Elop, Mulally make the cut

“Microsoft Corp has narrowed its list of external candidates to replace Chief Executive Steve Ballmer to about five people, including Ford Motor Co chief Alan Mulally and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, according to sources familiar with the matter,” Nadia Damouni reports for Reuters.

“The world’s largest software maker also has at least three internal candidates on its shortlist, including former Skype CEO Tony Bates, who is now responsible for Microsoft’s business development, and Satya Nadella, the company’s cloud and enterprise chief, the sources said,” Damouni reports. “Despite the narrower list – the company started with about 40 names – the process could take a few more months, the sources said. In August, Ballmer said he would retire within 12 months.”

“The names of other candidates could not be learned, but the search committee is interviewing executives from a wide range of sectors, including life sciences and consumer, the sources said,” Damouni reports. “Investors have pushed Microsoft’s board in recent months to look for a turnaround expert, such as Mulally or Computer Sciences Corp CEO Mike Lawrie, to succeed Ballmer. Some investors have also suggested to the board that co-founder Bill Gates should step down from his role as chairman, saying he stands in the way of radical reform at Microsoft. Microsoft remains highly profitable and last month beat Wall Street’s quarterly profit and revenue forecasts. But it has lost ground to Apple Inc and Google Inc in mobile computing.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The only guy capable of turning around the S.S. Microtanic has already left the planet.

Related article:
Microsoft short-timer Ballmer loses over half his bonus over failure to compete with Apple – October 4, 2013


  1. I hope they appoint Scott Forstall. He has a sense of style akin to Steve Jobs.

    Scott could show those two co-idiots Cook & Ive how not to ruin Steve’s legacy by releasing the buggy, shitty & completely odious iOS 7 and running Apple to the ground.

    1. It sure would be fun. Windows 8 needs skeuomorphism! All kidding aside, I would love to see Forstall in that job. Primarily due to Microsoft blowing it so bad so often in the recent past, the dirty little secret of Windows 8 is, it’s not all that bad…

      Get rid of the Microsofty-ness in it and it could be a fun OS.

      1. Thelonious, I’m sick to death of the flat boring unimaginative icons in iOS 7. The last straw seems to be how they’re ruining a perfectly good 3-D UI for iOS for iWork and converted it into a 2-D mess that it is now.

        Do you know that you could previously put documents, e.g. Pages or Numbers, into a folder and you could by opening the folder look at the document and take a good guess at its contents because the layout would show through albeit in miniature. Now those are replaced by ugly 2-D icons which sometimes but not always convert to miniature facsimiles of the document’s contents.

        I’m sick to my back teeth of all the unnecessary changes that have been implemented to iOS 7 for the sake of change on a cosmetic level, mostly for the worse.

        And have you seen the updated Remote app that was released today? Jesus, the icons representing Apple TV and Macs are frightful. Cold, grey 2-D lifeless icons. What a waste of a Retina display.

        1. We understand that you are frustrated. What most of us fail to understand is:

          1) Why you get incredibly outraged over icons
          2) Why you leave rage your icon outrage into a condemnation of iOS 7 in its entirety
          3) Why you feel that it is necessary to repeatedly and incessantly trumpet your iOS 7 outrage on this forum, to the extent of posting it on any and every topic, no matter how unrelated

          You are the boy who cried “iOS 7, too often. Far, far too often.

          On a related topic, I tend to take a person more seriously when the are registered forum participants rather than an anonymous poster who appears to changes handles on a whim.

    2. While I think Forstall was a talented guy and dislike some of the visual language used in iOS7, I prefer the new design direction of Forstall’s. Jobs was for skeuomorphic elements, but he kept it as an element. Jobs has really good taste and believed in it being understated and subtle. Forstall was fairly ham-handed about it. Of course, Forstall was about much more than a few bad design choices. Overall he did a nice job with the software.

      While Forstall did a lot of good things at Apple, I think Maps empirically demonstrates that he was also capable of putting out “buggy” software. Also, if you think no previous version of iOS has bugs when first released, you are wrong.

      Overall, I’m not really sure how you go from not liking the design of iOS7 to running Apple into the ground.

      Overall, I think iOS7 has been a great update that has brought a lot of useful functionality.

      All that said, Forstall would be good for MS.

  2. I think you are making light of the possibility of Microsoft being a real compeditor to Apple. Their are many excellent people who with MS large amount of money and user base could turn MS around. It would not be EASY but never underestimate the capability of good american managers.

    One of the advantages of apple after Steve came back was that much of the computer world underestimated him. APPLE should no make the same mistake. That is what leads to great companies getting destroyed.

    1. Richard,
      On this particular forum you’re likely to get booed for your remarks, but I think you might just be right. Microsoft will have to be ruthless and develop a focus they’ve never had. Some divisions will need to be sold off, and some possibly end-of-lifed. IBM is a good example: over the years they’ve been pretty nimble at shaving off what they don’t need. Microsoft is going to have to place a serious bet on where the future will be–it’s not ‘everywhere’. A good CEO just might be able to do it.

      The original article is correct in that Gates must take his leave. He never saw the web coming. He poo-poo’ed the iPhone and the iPad. He is a boat anchor–a mediocre technologist who worked from a pretty sleazy rulebook.

      I know we’re all supposed to wish for the demise of Microsoft, but I just want the best technology. Right now Apple is that leader. A stronger Microsoft or Google (or whoever) is good for us all. Apple’s always been driven by that desire to do a better job than all the rest. If the others raise their game, so will Apple.

    2. I agree. Apple should not discount any competitor out of hand. Microsoft still has teeth and a lot of corporate penetration. And it goes without saying that Microsoft still has a lot of money to bankroll a turnaround (as long as they stop wasting $B on acquisitions such as Skype).

    3. Huge companies also die when they’re too afraid to do something that is truly different from what they’ve been doing.

      Microsoft makes MOST of its money from Windows and Office and have shown they are not willing to bring ANYTHING to the market that might “interfere” with either of these. Windows is obviously pushed hardest due to the fact that they can then tie people to their software and services when and if they see a need to. This is why they refuse to make anything other than a half-assed attempt at creating a true mobile OS.

      Apple is a company that is willing to change and even make products that eat into sales of their other products. And they do this without the incessant need of worrying about market share statistics. They simply move into other high profit markets that make sense.

      But yeah, I agree, any company with enough resources can drag themselves forward and hope they eventually build enough momentum to reach a critical mass.

  3. Forstall has managed a division of Apple that makes more money than all of Microsoft. He has managed the transition from a legacy API to a modern replacement. He’s written a lot of good code, and gotten very good work out of the people who reported to him. If MSFT’s board is smart enough to hire him, then I would no longer bet on MS cratering like RIM.


  4. “But it has lost ground to Apple Inc and Google Inc in mobile computing”

    Come on Microsoft, who cares about mobile computing. Desktops are where the keyboards are at!

  5. Alan Mulally has said that he is very happy at Ford and is committed to staying until his overhaul of the company is completed. The US is profitable, but Europe is still a mess, South America is a work in progress and Ford is rapidly revving up in China. I think he wants to be around when the worm turns.

    Second, why would he want to bang his head against a wall with Microsoft? The only advantage to leaving Ford for Microsoft would be moving away from Dearborn for the greater Seattle area.

    1. I very much hope that Mulally gets the Microsoft job. With him out of the way, there might be more of a chance that Ford will abandon the Microsoft designed Ford Sync and instead go for something that really works. When that happens, I’ll resume buying Fords.

      To give you an example of how useless Ford Sync is. I’ve got two Fords, neither work anywhere near acceptably with an iPhone 3GS or newer iPhone too. The excuse given for it not working on the ’09 model is that the iPhone was too new and you can’t expect Ford to support a brand new phone. The excuse given for the ’13 model not working with that same iPhone was that the phone is too old and you can’t expect Ford to support legacy phones. I then challenged the dealer to demonstrate which cars on the forecourt built between ’09 and ’13 will properly work with that phone, but he declined to take up the challenge. Instead he tried to tell me that iPhones are non-standard and don’t work on any cars – so I told him about how many non-Ford rental cars I’ve used which have integrated well and without any fuss.

        1. Silverhawk1, you are right, but Sync aside, Ford is shipping some sweet rides right now, especially the Focus and the Fusion. Their upgraded versions combine luxury with good mileage and performance. Unfortunately, they also include the worst in-car operating system imaginable. I am convinced that Sync is costing Ford as many as 100K sales a year. It is a shame.

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