Microsoft’s search for a new CEO has been playing out rather publicly, with Ford CEO Alan Mulally pegged as the front runner since September.
Dina Bass and Carol Hymowitz at Bloomberg reiterated that Mulally is the leading external candidate, with Satya Nadella, who runs Servers & Tools as the leading internal candidate.
Mulally has a lot of people scratching their heads. He’s not a tech guy. He’s not a visionary, and he doesn’t seem like a very long term solution.
The argument in favour of Mulally is that he’s done a brilliant job at Boeing and Ford. Microsoft needs a sharp manager to reshape the company and Mulally could be the guy to make that happen.
Nadella has successfully run Microsoft’s most promising new business line, so he makes sense as an internal candidate. Also, Microsoft is really an enterprise company, so promoting Nadella makes a lot of sense.
While those two seem to be the favourites of the board, it is Tony Bates, who came to Microsoft when it acquired Skype, who is the leading internal candidate, we’ve heard from a Microsoftie. Our source says Bates is the guy people inside Microsoft are hoping is named CEO.
Kara Swisher at AllThingsD says she’s heard the same thing. She’s also heard that just about everyone in Silicon Valley thinks Microsoft should pick Bates.
The case for Bates: He’s both an insider and an outsider at Microsoft. He’s an insider because he’s been at the company for two years, but an outsider because that’s not that long. He has consumer/mobile skills from running Skype. He was previously at Cisco, so he understands bigger company dynamics, and the enterprise.
The case against Bates: He ran Skype for less than a year, and mostly seemed to just guide to its Microsoft sale. He’s never led a major public company like Microsoft. Swisher says he never stuck his neck out for any major projects at Microsoft, so he doesn’t have a huge resume at the company.
Here’s Swisher on what she’s hearing:
…More than a dozen tech leaders in Silicon Valley, as well as several top Microsoft execs, I have talked to over the last week have one single choice to lead the company: Tony Bates.
…those I spoke to said Bates had all the right assets, making him “the best candidate across all of the various criteria,” said one source.
“Tony is a bold choice that would say a lot to the rest of the tech world that Microsoft is ready to engage,” said another source close to the company. “Mulally makes sense only if the board wants a transitional figure, which means it basically doesn’t know what to do yet.”