Stephen Elop
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Report: Microsoft has narrowed down the list for potential CEO

Steve Ballmer has been Microsoft’s CEO since 2000. That’s over 13 years ago for you mathematicians out there. Earlier this summer, he announced plans to step down as CEO sometime during the next year. Who’s going to be the next CEO of Microsoft? We’ve heard reports of Nokia’s Stephen Elop, Ford’s Alan Mulally and others. Now Reuters is claiming the list has been narrowed even further. Who made the cut? Read on to find out.

Reuters is claiming that insider information reveals that there are now about five external individuals being considered for the position and three current employees already with Microsoft.

Who’s on the list? Internally we have Tony Bates, who currently is the vice president for Microsoft’s Business Development and Evangelism group. He’s notable for previously being CEO of Skype before it was acquired by Microsoft. Microsoft. Up next is Satya Nadella, vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group. He’s been with Microsoft since 1992. The third internal candidate now on the shortlist for CEO wasn’t detailed by Reuters.

Externally it looks like we’ve still got Ford’s Alan Mulally and Nokia’s Stephen Elop. Mulally has already dismissed his position on the shortlist and stated he intends to see out his time with Ford through the end of 2014. But that’s something a few checks from the world’s largest software maker could change pretty easily.

What’s interesting is that Reuters didn’t list Elop as an internal candidate, even though Microsoft has on record stated that he is now an internal candidate. Why’s he internal? You’ll remember that he’s going to become the vice president of the Devices and Studios division within Microsoft. Assuming he doesn’t become CEO before then.

Out of the four individuals named above, who would you select as Microsoft’s next CEO?

Source: Reuters

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Reader comments

Report: Microsoft has narrowed down the list for potential CEO

179 Comments

How long have you been at wpcentral? This is nothing new, its usually slow on weekends but on other days its just like this. You should've seen the pace of notifications during the Nokia event in Dubai

I have been for a very long time. Believe me. It had slowed down somewhat in between. I already know about the weekend thing

There is no way Elop would give up his position as Nokia CEO. Even the money he got from the MS/Nokia wouldn't be enough for me to say, ok I'll downgrade my position. Either I hope he's the one. If its Mullaly, WP, w8.1, Xbox, and all the hard combined to become one ecosystem will be dead.

Well, you better put on your walking shoes because Mulally will be the next CEO of MS.  The rumor that he is not interested in the job is a farse because money will always talk.  That said, MS market caps dwarfts Ford's; therefore MS can offer a crazy bonus tied to the stock if he can really turn the company around.  The sad part is that I do not think Mulally is the right person for the job.

Turn the company around? I didn't know MS was in the red. The company doesn't need to turn around. Investors want the stocks to turn. I truly don't know what's good and what's bad but I bet if Mulally takes over, you can kiss WP and w8.1 goodbye. He won't be giving them a chance to grow. Xbox be dead once it it branches off. Sony or Apple or Nintendo will scoop it up. Sorry, just worried that's all.

"because money will always talk"

Unless you're 68 years old and already have more than enough money to live your life out in supreme comfort.

You don't become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company for money. You do it because you want the challenge, enjoy the work, power, prestige, whatever. You think Ballmer lasted 13 years instead of 10 because he really needed to get to $18 billion?

Mulally's retiring. He's done.

Mulally is 68. His next step is retirement, not leading Microsoft. Microsoft needs a CEO that will stick around for a good number of years, not someone who has his pre-retirement life work behind him (there's lots of valuable things people like Mulally can do once "retired," including mentoring younger folks, which is way underrated).

I was saying that I was joking about joking about calling Sam a Jerk.. Boy, ya'll are acting brand new tonight.. For the record,, I don't think that Sam is a jerk....

Bates or Elop. Next CEO needs to implement the one vision, very critical for WP, windows, surface and Xbox to come together.

Agreed, though elop has demonstrated ability in successfully formulating and executing strategy in high risk plays. The transformational work he managed with Nokia deserves many case studies. MS needs him in the quarterback position from 2014 onwards.

So basically someone to just continue what Ballmer was doing. Really the board should just change their mind and give Ballmer a second chance in that case.

I wish you Trojan people would just let it go! The Lumia line of windows phone is doing just fine and still landing enterprise customers routinely as evidence on WP they just landed 6,600 new customers this week.

Nokia was already on it's way to the grave when Elop stepped on board.  If nokia was in such great shape then the Nokia board wouldn't have fired the previous CEO.  Elop was brought in to save a dying company and that is what he did.

The candidates are :

Stephen Elop : external candidate from Nokia

Stephen Elop : internal candidate from microsoft hardware dept

Steph N. Elop :

Stephen E Lope :

Stephene Lope :

Shut up and take my money NOKIA!!! I just love my lumia.  I'm considering the 2520.

In other news, Carl Icahn and Paul Allen endorse Thorstein Heinz for the position as he's now free after being kicked out of Thor's Dark World.  or was it blackberry world?  berry black world?  Oh well.

 

Does Elop know how to implement the things MS needs e.g. "the one" vision, gaming necessities such as exclusives and xbox live facilities......*enough of the boring stuff*......CORTANA AS THE ANSWER TO SIRI!!! :D:D

Dude he's like MBA from the yellow brick road school of business. I'll bet my 620 that he knows how to work a vision :)

Mulally is an engineer. He led the development of Boeing 777 which is considered one of the safest planes ever.

Glad they didn't take his suggestion to break up the plane and sell its parts off to Airbus and Cessna. A Cessna 208 with 14 wheels would have looked a little weird...

I kid :)

Not enough. The person that runs MS should have an understanding of software engineering, the software technology markets, and their own vision of where consumer and business computing will be five to ten years from now. Just being an engineer doesn't get you anywhere close to grasping those issues, not to mention being able to form your own opinion on software related matters.

Bates, Nadella and Elop all fit that bill much better than Mulally. The only MS board members that want Mulally are the finance guys.

I'm definately not saying Mulally is incompetent, he's just not right for the position at MS.

First off: good to see ya, GoodThings.  Miss you on the forums!!

And from what I have seen and heard, I think I agree with you Satya Nadella brings a ton to the table and seems to be onboard with the new structuring of MS.

 

Elop is popular on the forums because of the WP conection.  But I truly feel he is best right where he is: Over seeing the hardware and distrubution of the Lumia line, the single most important MS line of devices for mobile.

Whomever they select will be mandated to carry out the vision currently unfolding... So exciting. I think i need to be a bigger part of all this...

I personally think the Skype CEO would be the best fit. He's not true Microsoft and knows how to make a breakthrough product. Elop would be fine by me too. Actually I take it back. Elop is my first pick. MUCH better hardware vision out of Nokia than Microsoft and quick software pushes.

Tony Bates did not make Skype. He was a CEO who was hired by the board after Skype was acquired from Ebay by a group of private equity investors.

I know it´s not gonna happen, but my personal candidate is Scott Forstall. He has radical vision, software + hardware integration experience and Consumer + Commercial channels sales & marketing experience. That´d be awesome

haha... could be. but we should not look at Microsoft/Apple relationship in those terms anymore. War is over. And you know what? The guy who actually invented iOS is out there. Jobless..

I'm rooting for Elop. Say all you want about him, but I love this guy, and how he made Nokia start their Lumia campaign: the best phones on the market!

Tony Bates.
From all the mentioned, he's the only one who may have the right attitude to lead MS forward. He managed to bring Skype to a new other level and actually made it grow. AND he does have a past with YouTube which may facilitate a new Era with Google.
Well, not to mention it would be funny to have again in charge a guy named "__ates"... and if Bill doesn't want to come back...And Tony Bates is a Brit! It's about time an European takes control of Microsoft. If they want to become a D&S company, they simply CAN'T keep with their US-Centred attitude. They need to start spreading and treating their consumers around the globe equally. Best way to do that? NOT having an American in charge would help.

Alan Mulally may be a great businessman but I'm afraid he's too old and Microsoft needs fresh blood on the wheel. Well not to mention that it would be weird to select a guy whose plan for salvaging Ford was to sell many of the brands associated with them. In a time Microsoft is trying to Anschluß former partners, I'm not sure he would be adequate. 

 

As for Eflop...the only place that swine deserves is in the gallows...since they've closed down Alcatraz. If he becomes CEO of Microsoft, I'll seriously consider dropping all Microsoft services (not only WP). Except maybe Windows and that's because there's no proper alternative (but if Google steps up Chrome or Apple operates a 180º change in the way OS X works...). I will not contribute again to the paycheck of that pathetic virulent disgusting little fat worm.

DJCBS, your gimmick has run it's course.  It's time for a face turn.  If you aren't eligible to vote on November 19th, then please drop the whole irrational hatred for Mr. Elop angle.  If you want to be professionally critical, then fine, but please stop with the "Eflop" stuff.

Either Elop did a great job at Nokia, in which case WP was a major hindrance (and the board screwed up by choosing WP), or he did poorly in which case the blame for Nokia's inability to pick up sales rests on his shoulders.

Stephen Elop, he did a great job at Nokia, if he can do the same for Microsoft then perhaps there is some hope to get back to the pre-Balmer era of Microsoft being the leader rather than follower.

 

Sure he did. I can already see it:

"September 2017: Google buys Microsoft. Stephen Elop to step down and on the run for Google's CEO"

Don't you have anything better to do than rant about Elop every day. Nokia was dead to 1st world consumers and now its back in the minds of people. Elop did that.

Elop can bring that Nokia mentality and culture to Microsoft, if that is spread across all of Microsoft's products, especially now being hardware and device focused, it would change everyone's negative perception of Microsoft.

Still thinking mulally would be a hit. Promoting someone like Skype CEO or elop (as much as everyone here loves elop) could end up bad if they show too much attention to one side of msft. Alternatively, their replacement could lose any charm that they had brought to the platform.

They should reconsider Balmer. The board only cares about their own pockets. They could care less about MSFT in the long term.

Have this +1 sir.
Seriously though, DJCBS might take his opinions to android central then :D i understand opinions should be respected, but the guy just keeps on pushing :P elop might have done the Trojan horse bit, but he's not entirely bad. The point is to remove ballmer first. That guy has taken some amazingly bad decisions, has had crappy foresight, and made too many things half baked. (insert wp7, vista and zune joke here). Then we need a CEO in MSFT who works towards environment unification while keeping individual aspects of subsections in check like after acquiring nokia, they should let them follow their quality and design standards and leave the basic vision of that section untouched. At the same time, integrate the the process and infrastructure.

I hope it's someone with passion for and knowledge of software and computers, not just a businessman. Someone with a vision and great ideas.

Whoever they pick, I hope it is someone who can coordinate and harness the best of everyone's talents to produce a 'family of products' that work extremely well together. They need to instill a sense of expediency when it comes to customer interaction and feedback. They need to be able to make the most of Microsoft's strengths and correct it's weaknesses. That all sounds simple in theory but will be difficult to do in practice. But that would be my hope for the future of Microsoft and it's leaders.

Mmm I like Elop, but as a vicepresident :). He has great ideas and that light that push a platform forward, but I think msft needs for a CEO a person with a focus on the whole platform vision.

Mulally is who the investors want which means by default I don't want him. They want the company broken up, and that's what he does. Between the rest, I would say this. All of the current momentum that WP has is because of Nokia and what he has done there. The results of things he has done and decisions he has made over the last few years. The momentum in big name apps coming to the store is largely from him and Nokia as well. He could really help make Surface and RT a viable option.

It's been a pretty impressive 6 months or so and that is directly related to him. Would he be capable of doing that on a larger scale across all of MS, I don't know. But I think he deserves the chance. If they are going to focus on devices, he's qualified. If they are going to focus on getting apps to come for those devices, he's proven he can. Seems to me that's what MS needs.

Please, not former Skype CEO. Please for the love of God not him. Why? Because Skype for WP still sucks.

You guys are forgetting Bill still runs shit at Microsoft, as he is still the 'chairman'. Ballmer and the rest of the 'dudes' and 'dudets', still do what Bill the "messiah" says and wants -- everyone should calm down, he's got this shit under control..... Long live Bill 'the messiah' Gates!

Actually I have been thinking Elop will be next CEO since last year. It just happens sooner than what I thought.

I want Bill Gates to come back as CEO, he was very good at his job -- made MS a monopoly! Plus a majority of people still think he is the CEO

Why would he? He's the Chairman of Microsoft (although his role is part-time) -- Microsoft, is still Bill Gates baby, and no doubt he guides the board members to what he thinks is best for Microsoft. Also, I think who ever becomes CEO will have Microsoft blood running through their veins. Therefore, Elop would be a perfect candidate. Plus, the several years he spent at Nokia, can only shake things up (for the better) at Microsoft -- may be this is why that 'ford geezer', has already said he doesn't want the job, as he knows Microsoft do shit different?

Former Skype CEO, current Ford CEO are both going to abandon ModernUI projects for the sake of short-term portfolio investors interests.

The only candidate to ensure further development of the current Microsoft ecosystem is Steven Elop.

This guy has managed to

  • Make Macromedia Flash an industrial standart for the last ten years;
  • Release MS Office 2007, still the most popular Office;
  • Force Nokia to manufacture Windows Phone and RT devices.

If Elop is not with Microsoft, I am going to consider switching to Apple products as we are going to see initial releases of Microsoft's killer software for MacOS X, iOS and Android long before the release for the Windows. Skype for Windows RT and Phone is the best proof for my words.

I agree, if all the Windows/WP exclusives will be made cross platform there will be no point in making the switch. Google doesn't even care any other platform exist ! They have a biased eye for Android.

I personally was really skeptical about Elope becoming Nokia CEO in the begining, and specially when he wrote that Symbian is a burning platform letter, but what he did with Nokia and its position in the market has completely changed my view. Without his aggressive ad campaigns and vision for Lumia, I think Nokia would be in the same position as Blackberry is today. It was mostly because of his dedication to Nokia that now it controls 90% of the WP pie-chart.

Although I'm sad that future windows phones may lose their Nokia logo (by the way, I'm nearly over it). You have to give credit, where credit is due and Elop did a brilliant job at Nokia. Therefore, in my eyes he's the only true candidate, and he's got the 'gift of the gab' which shows in his presentations.

Bill Gates has done his share ! He is great and awesome, but I would rather want him to take rest for all the work he has done. And no matter who becomes MS CEO, Bill will always be the no.1 guy to consult MSFT on its decisions.

So true Dragenox -- apparently, although Bill is the part time chairman of Microsoft. He still spends more of his time, over seeing things at Microsoft, than his full-time role with his foundation.

Elop it is!
that guy can pick up a dying company and get it back in people's minds.
plus if the Nokia attitude come to Microsoft, and they attend to all markets like Nokia, they would be so much more loved and succesful.
plus i feel Elop already has a hang of the unified vision of Microsoft, so he will be able to take it forward in a better way.

and lastly, i'm an Elop and Nokia fan! i wish Nokia to truely be alive within Microsoft, and i sorta feel Elop becoming CEO will do that. O:)

OMG BACK TO THE FUTURE IS MY FAVORITE MOVIE TRILOGY OF ALL TIME!!!!!

My 2 favorite things ever:
-Microsoft
-Back to the Future

Anyone that thinks wp is fine just the way it is is crazy... Look at windows 7 and 8 and you will see that windows phone isn't living up to its potential .

We don't need to imitate it (even though iOS7 follows Metro design guidelines), but we do need its polish. One thing apple does well is polish. I look at my Windows Phone and I see lack of depth, and lack of motion (it has motion, but its repetitive and old.). Windows 8.X seems to be too cluttered, mix too much color, and is too graphical with less focus on design as it should (and is barely metro guidelines compliant). iOS7 makes me wish Ives would take a crack at improving (NOT changing) Modern UI.i love MS, and don't want another apple or google product (glass excluded), and I even advocate WP, W8.x, And Nokia constantly, but one thing MS lacks in the Software department is polish.

Dustin, windows 8 too cluttered with too much colour, eh? Do you want every tile to be all the same colour, just like WP8? In my opinion, different colour tiles are perfect. That was one thing I loved when Microsoft, made their News (pink) and Sport (purple) apps with different coloured tiles -- I love my start screen, with a row of small tiles at the top in the same lime colour (call, messages, email and settings). Then everything in-between (medium and large tiles with the odd small tile here and there) have various carefully chosen colours, that flip to images -- that is one thing, I love about WP8, and if I get 'bored' I can change stuff around. Can you do that with IOS mate?

I doubt you can with iOS. And I didn't say all color is bad, just too much of it. I don't want every tile to be the same color, and its not even that way on Windows Phone. But on 8, there's a lot going on. It changes concepts taken from Windows Phone, some which didn't need to be changed. Even live tiles are lesser on Windows 8, where as there are multiple tile animations on Windows Phone (some limited to Microsoft, such as People and Music), Windows 8.x only has one that i have seen: slide. It removed support for a number of controls in WinPRT (such as Pivot and Panorama), and has a smaller focus on typography and motion. There's TOO MANY different colored tiles, which kind of lessens the effects of the theme. There's also this weird subtle gradient desktop app tiles have which I find could of been done differently. The desktop is too much like 7, not even taking the chance to change elements that wouldn't even disrupt users from former windows users. I didn't say Windows 8 was bad. I love it. I advocate it often and talk about it constantly. All I'm saying is is the UI is not very polished or "in sync" with windows phone

On windows phone, I never said anything about boring. Its far from boring. In fact, I find it more entertaining somedays aesthetically than Windows 8.x. It just lacks a refresh. The motions it uses have been to heavily relied on (including apps), making it somedays feel a bit repetitive and old. Pivot and Panorama are the main culprits, and have been over used by numerous devs excessively, with little to no creativity involved in, ironically, the creation process of the app. It also is a bit behind aesthetically. I think the (x) button in GDR3 is too "windows" ironically, and that MS should of implemented something Motion based instead (like WebOS and iOS). Some of the stock apps are ok, but I think IE would do good with a tab manager like Modern IE10 from Windows 8.0, and the calendar could use a new UI. The voice command dialog and the dialogs in general are a bit bland somedays as well, and I personally think they need a small flat drop shadow (versus a gradient drop shadow). And as for the themes, I feel Microsoft should allow an 'accent' theme that uses a darker variant of the accent color for the theme background and the accent color for the dialog, to go along with the light and dark themes.

Honestly, I think, in ways, XBOX pulls it off better than Windows 8, and in some ways, Windows Phone. It uses gradients and drop shadows, but doesn't make that the main focus point. Its start screen UI I find better, in ways, than that of Windows 8's. And it appears to have depth too, something neither 8 nor phone do as well.

Okay mate, thanks for clearing that up for me -- may be you should apply for a job at Microsoft, with those interesting ideas?

I have a gut feeling that if Mullay becomes CEO, its gonna be Apple all over again. (AKA: They'd be hiring someone outside of tech that would have a different vision then that of the company, and would nearly burn it to the ground, killing products and releasing mediocre ones, before having a former CEO swoop in and save the day)

they need a visionary person with successful consumer / enterprise background a man who love to take chalenges and know how to lead 100000 + 32000 employees

 

Satya Nadella seems like a pretty good place to jump off from.  Leader of cloud and enterprise?  Sounds good to me.  Or Elop.  

Not sure why Mullaly keeps getting mentioned... He said no to teh position, and MS doesn't exaclty need help turning around.  

I like how Sam explained every situation so clearly. Even if someone is unaware of the background, they will get the clear idea! Well done mate!

Satya Nadella, that's the one they need in terms of looks! He looks like a badass mix between Steve Jobs and Gustavo Fring; nothing like the "stereotypical businessman in a suit"-look Ballmer and Elop have.

Personally I see only one real option: Ray Ozzie.

Unfortunately, it won't happen as Ozzie and MS are said to split ways in not the friendliest manner. But he would be the perfect candidate ... a visionary and a very talented engineer at the same time. That's what MS needs to drive their products forward. Not a good business guy.

Elop would be OK from my point of view, but his public image is bad. Not that this is justified, but it would be a distraction for Microsoft anyways. Not what they need now, they need a less controversial personality.

Elop....he sticks to his word....and u know what u will get from him....he kept Nokia with WP UI when he could have went to android, he kept android on side just incase Microsoft screwed with him....but he saw a vision and kept with it until they made it work..
.
Microsoft will be better off with elop

It really depends on who Bill Gates likes.  He still has incredible pull (as he should) on how the company is steered.  I will say that I do not like anyone without a deep knowledge in technology and how to drive MS down the path of a future technology.

Mulally is 68. 11 years older than the guy that he'd be replacing. He's been massively successful at Boeing and Ford, MSFT wouldn't add anything to his prestige. Doesn't really need any more money. What part of 'retiring' don't people understand?

Would he be good for the job? Definiately. For those who think software, aerospace, and car companies don't translate at the top position, I give you Elon Musk. For the record, I can't stand the guy, and don't think either Tesla or SpaceX come anywhere close to living up to their hype, but here's a guy that started his own software company and then went on to start a car company and a rocket company. To a large degree, a CEO is a CEO. They need to set strategic paths, be good at selecting the rest of the talent that guide their companies, take in a lot of information and make go/no go calls, etc. You could argue that desigining flight decks is closer to software than it is to cars.

My money is on eiher Elop or Bates...preferriibly Elop. Elop has a proven and well documented CEO record, he understands Windows Phone well and seems to be in line with the Ballmer vision of one unified Microsoft. With Mullaly I get the feeling that he'd end up breaking up Microsoft in pieces and selling parts out to others and shrink the company...something that is totally the opposite of the Ballmer plan.

I'm still rooting for Elop. He's the only one that has relevant experience, who looks at things long-term and is willing to make daring moves to maintain relevance. Add in the fact that he's the most eloquent and personable CEO I've ever seen, and you've got yourself a winner.

Honestly as much as I love the tech candidates especially Elop, I would assume Mulally would have the most effective as Ford as a car company was bad for years and has come back to have a presence and make strides in the automotive industry despite the bad press for their feaux pas of the past... Can we liken this to MS and WM fallout, I say yes but it would all depend if the rest of the employees hop on board. I say Elop is my favorite, but if Mulally can help MS reputation recover that's a huge win.