It was announced last month that Steve Ballmer would be stepping down as CEO of Microsoft after 33 years with the company and 13 years as its CEO. Since then, there’s been no word out of Microsoft’s board of directors regarding a replacement. Some thought that the company would internally replace Ballmer, but a new rumor has named an unlikely candidate as the top contender.
All Things D reports that a source close to Microsoft has said that Ford CEO Alan Mulally is being seriously considered for the role of Microsoft’s new CEO. In fact, Mulally is now at the top of the board’s list of potential candidates.
Before we go further, we must first ask – who is Mulally? He’s a graduate of the University of Kansas and MIT with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in aeronautical and astronautical engineering and a Master’s degree in Management. He was previously the EVP of Boeing and the CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes before becoming the CEO of Ford in 2006.
When he first joined Ford, he immediately helped the troubled automaker turn around and make its first quarterly profit in two years. From there, his leadership led to Ford being the only Detroit-based automaker that didn’t have to ask for a government loan to stay afloat during the recession of 2008.
So, it’s apparent that Mulally has experience in turning things around. Microsoft certainly needs that at the moment, and Mulally’s engineering experience would certainly come in handy at a tech company like Microsoft. Even so, there’s one major obstacle standing in the way – Ford says that Mulally will stay with Ford until at least 2014. He certainly is allowed to move to other companies, but Mulally himself told All Things D that he isn’t leaving anytime soon.
He may say that now, but the All Things D report notes that Mulally is a bit more receptive to the idea of moving to Microsoft now than he was earlier this month. Part of that is due to his desire to move back to Seattle. He also has experience with Microsoft as he advised Ballmer on the company’s most recent restructuring.
While Mulally may be a top contender for the post of Microsoft CEO, there’s a number of other potential candidates that may just win out. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop may take the position as Microsoft just recently purchased the company’s devices and services division. Another potential candidate is Microsoft’s own Tony Bates who previously served as CEO of Skype.
There’s likely more candidates than we know about, but we won’t know for sure until the board announces something. It has a year to make a decision, but it will want to announce a replacement before the end of Microsoft’s fiscal year next March. We’ll probably have our replacement by that time.[Image: Wikimedia Commons]