Microsoft says it is “well down the path” to finding a replacement for CEO Steve Ballmer.
Foley asked Thompson, who is leading the committee to find Microsoft’s next CEO, what he’s looking for in the next CEO.
“Well, we’ve had a process underway for quite some time to think through what the attributes of the successor would need to be. We’ve worked with an outside firm, Heidrick and Struggles, to help us define that. But I don’t think we’re ready to declare that externally at this point in time. We are well down the path in the search, and hopefully in some reasonable amount of time we’ll have a new leader.”
Ballmer chimed in, revealing that he’s been thinking about his replacement for the last three to four years:
“Our board has been diligent over probably at least the last 10 years about succession planning and talking about what would a candidate look like. We’ve had discussions about how things that would be different because I’m sort of a virtual founder. There are things that work with me that wouldn’t work with a new CEO, and how would we deal with them.
I’d say three or four years ago, I agreed to a project with the board where I would meet a bunch of people outside Microsoft who we should have on our radar screen as, you know, potential interesting people outside of Microsoft who might become CEO, and I’ve reported back to the board on those interactions.”
In the release announcing Ballmer’s retirement, Microsoft said it would be a year before Ballmer was replaced. After reading this, it sounds like it could be sooner.