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FEATURE: Microsoft still hunting for new CEO

FEATURE: Microsoft still hunting for new CEO

Steve Ballmer (former) CEO at Microsoft. Image courtesy of CC commons by gamescorer.

Five months after Steve Ballmer announced he was resigning as Microsoft’s chief executive officer (CEO), the company is yet to find a replacement after the withdrawal of a number of high profile candidates from the race.

Last month, HumanIPO reported John Thompson, Microsoft lead independent director and man in charge of the CEO search, said the company was planning on filling the position by the end of January, but the search has so far resulted in a series of disappointments after a number of candidates made themselves unavailable.

Last month saw Qualcomm chief operating officer (COO) Steve Mollenkopf named as a favourite for the position, but this was quickly followed by the announcement he had been appointed to the top job at the chipmaker, destroying any chance of him becoming the next head of Microsoft.

The beginning of January saw another highly linked candidate withdraw his candidature, with Ford CEO Alan Mulally pulling out of the race for the top position, though it is unclear whether this was his decision or Microsoft’s.

The field now appears to have narrowed to internal candidates, notably Stephen Elop, the controversial former head of Nokia who rejoined Microsoft after it acquired Nokia’s mobile division for US$7.36 billion in September last year, executive vice president of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise group Satya Nadella, and Tony Bates, executive vice president of business development at the company.

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the reasons for the delay, apart from the obvious unavailability of prospective CEOs, include “a founder who believes he knows best” – Bill Gates – and “a CEO who stepped down under pressure for a faster change in strategy” – Ballmer.

Former executive at Apple Jean-Louis Gassée, told the WSJ the delays are due to the fact both Gates and Ballmer will be on the board after the new CEO is appointed. “No chief executive worthy of the title wants his or her predecessors second-guessing everything in the boardroom,” he said.

Whoever gets chosen, it is agreed the announcement will not be made by the end of the month as had been originally suggested. January is busy time for the tech giant, which has been focusing on the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and is now switching its attention to the announcement of its second-quarter earnings, the latter requiring the careful attention of the top brass.

Reuters reported further delays could be expected due to Gates’ busy schedule this month. The Microsoft founder, who is very much involved in the search for the new CEO alongside Thompson, will be attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in late January.

Nonetheless, the board has until August to find a new commander-in-chief and may take a while to sift through the remaining candidates for the job, with a wildcard option a strong possibility.

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