Tech Industry Vet Leads Microsoft CEO Race
January 30, 2014 7:51 PM
As CEO hunt winds down Satya Nadella -- Microsoft's current cloud chief -- is leading the pack
Microsoft Corp.'s (
) third CEO is
nearing a close
, after 160 days. And according to Kara Swisher, the former
All Things D
blogger now with
, the leading candidate is a fresh face that many readers may be unaware of.
I. A Tough Job Ahead
[A]at this moment, those who have watched the process think that insider Satya Nadella, who is currently leading its enterprise effort, is the likeliest internal candidate to prevail.
That’s due to a number of reasons, including his familiarity with the company, where he has spent much of his career, as well as a strong technical background and a varied work history at Microsoft.
The two other insiders — strategy head Tony Bates and Nokia leader and former Microsoft exec Stephen Elop — seem further behind. But while sources said they have not been updated recently as to their status in the search, neither has been told he is out either as yet.
The new CEO -- whoever it may be -- will have a tough task ahead in restoring Microsoft's image. While Microsoft remains a giant of the electronics industry, it
in its launch of
the Xbox One
. While it eventually
tried to win customers back
undo unpopular decisions
, the struggles echoed the
troubled Windows 8 platform
PC sales have seen
after some customers gave the radical overhaul to the start-menu UI the thumbs down. OEMs have
returned to installing Windows 7 on new machines
, an embarrassment for Microsoft that recalls the Vista debacle.
Steve Ballmer gives the audience a little slice of his reality at CES 2011.
© Jason Mick/DailyTech 2011
Those struggles, in part, forced CEO Steve Ballmer to
announce his early retirement
an attempt to placate irate shareholders
. Mr. Ballmer exits Microsoft having held the CEO post for 14 years. His predecessor and company co-founder, William Henry "Bill" Gates III, had
held the post for 24 years
The CEO hunt --
led by Mr. Gates
-- was rumored initially to be focusing on Ford Motor Comp. (
) CEO Alan Roger Mulally. But after multiple denials, it appears that
an exasperated Mr. Mulally
was being forthright --
he is uninterested in leaving Ford
to take the reins at his current company's troubled business partner.
Likewise, other outside candidates -- including Qualcomm Inc.'s (
and Ericsson AB's Hans Vestberg -- seemed uneager to take on the challenge of reinventing Microsoft. One rumored outside candidate who hasn't yet been ruled out is VMWare, Inc. (
) CEO Pat Gelsinger. But while he may be a good fit personality-wise, his company is only about an eighth the value of Microsoft in market-cap.
the internal candidates
, Mr. Nadella has been with the company the longest. He joined Microsoft in 1992, having previously worked at Sun Microsystems. While largely a quiet, behind-the-scenes leader, Mr. Nadella is seen as one of the more forward-looking leaders at the company. Having started in the R&D unit of the business division, he helped to lead Microsoft's push into the emerging cloud computing market, earning a promotion to President of Servers & Tools in the process.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft's cloud chief
Born in Hyperabad, India in 1967, Mr. Nadella holds degrees from
University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
(Master's deg. in Comp. Sci),
The University of Chicago
(MBA), and India's
(Bachelor's deg. in Electronics/Communications). If Mr. Nadella receives the nod, he'll join the
small, elite group of Indian-born CEOs who head
major U.S. companies.
Of the internal competition, Anthony J. "Tony" Bates has been with Microsoft the shortest time. He joined the company when it acquired Skype for $8.5B USD in May 2011. He had served as CEO at Skype and is currently in charge of business, strategy, and evangelism at Microsoft.
Tony Bates, Microsoft business/strategy/evangelism head
At age 50,
is the oldest of the three leading internal candidates. He currently leads Microsoft's devices division. He first joined Microsoft back in early 2008, working as the head of the business division.
Stephen Elop, Microsoft's Devices Chief
He's worked at a number of firms, notably holding the CEO spot at Macromedia (before its sales to Adobe Systems Inc. (
and at Nokia
). Some would argue that he
delivered Nokia's devices unit
to Microsoft and
may earn extra consideration for that achievement
III. Weary From the Hunt
The long hunt has taken its toll on Microsoft employees.
Ms. Swisher quotes one "high-ranking exec" as saying:
We aren’t doing anything but waiting. No one knows what the new CEO will want, so no one knows what to do.
[We're in] stasis, all depending on who gets the nod.
Ms. Swisher claims relief may soon arrive, though. She says the CEO selection may come "within the next week", adding that the committee's has "a goal to announce [the pick] in early February."
Microsoft employees shuffle along at the company's headquarters in Redmond, Wash.
[Image Source: AP]
its results last week. Despite "continued softness in the consumer PC market", it beat analyst expectations on strong business sector performance and the launch of
the Xbox One
, which sold 3.9 million units during the holiday season. Microsoft pocketed $6.56B USD in net income for the quarter, higher than the analyst expectation of $5.72B USD,
a survey by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Thus despite the Windows woes, it's important to remember that Microsoft is nearly twice profitable as Google Inc. (
), a more vogue brand. In other words, Microsoft's problems with perception are huge, but it still is very profitable and has solid revenue streams.
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