Microsoft CEO search reportedly narrowed down to just two candidates

According to a report over on Bloomberg, Microsoft has narrowed its search for a new CEO to just two candidates. Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Microsoft VP Satya Nadella are believed to be names for the top seat at Redmond. Both Tony Bates and Stephen Elop are now only considered as distant possibilities for the role.


On one hand we have a Ford CEO with experience in turning companies around in difficult circumstances, and on the other we have a Microsoft veteran who has been with the company since 1992 and led the move from on-site server solutions to cloud computing. Both candidates clearly have their strengths and weaknesses.

Microsoft as a company is currently undergoing major changes internally, which follow the rebranding of not only products and services offered to consumers, but also the main company image. Microsoft's board of directors met recently to discuss progress made in the hunt for a new CEO, but a decision is now not expected until early 2014.

Stephen Elop

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is now a "distant possibility" in the Microsoft replacement race

Bloomberg obtained internal documentation, prepared by the Microsoft board for the CEO search. The ideal candidate is described as one who has an "extensive track record in managing complex, global organizations within a fast-paced and highly competitive market sector; track record of delivering top and bottom line results. [Must also possess the] proven ability to lead a multi-billion dollar organization and large employee base."

While Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is considered a long shot for the top Microsoft position, he will be returning to Redmond alongside Nokia's services and devices division. All-in-all, nothing new to see here, but there's certainly going to be further painstaking decision making by the board to come up with a solution to fill a rather large vacuum at the top of the company, whilst injecting new life into Microsoft.

Source: Bloomberg, via: Windows IT Pro

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Keep it MS I say.
  • I'll take one for the team and become CEO.
  • Do it. But we want whoooping, running around like a mad sweaty beast and lots of yelling "I LOVE T H I S CompanEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE yeahhhhhhhhhh"  
  • LOL as long as you give me any executive position... Honestly I think Elop would be the best candidate just for the fact he has more experience as of now in the international market when it comes to mobile. If its true that he would break MS into pieces for get him and Mullaly since he'll probably do the same.
  • FORD makes such fantastic, cutting-edge, Industry leading products!
  • Ford doesn't make very good cars but what they did was survive during the recession without needing a bailout and the only US manufacturer who was operating at a profit almost immediately following the bailout. This is why he is considered.
  • But it was just sheer luck that he happened to mortgage the farm right before the credit markets tightened.  
  • Ford makes good cars.. They have improved a tremendous amount over the past 15 years.. Why do you think that they don't make good cars❔
  • If he can get my MS Sync in my Ford to work well with my MS Nokia 928...(and my MS Zune HD), then hire him!!!!
  • SYNC works fine in my 2012 Focus with both my Zune HD and Lumia 822. I agree with rodney, Ford does make good cars and has come a long way.  I absolutely love my Focus.
  • Ford makes horrible cars. Their entire Lincoln line up is not selling and deserves to be closed down as they can't even find their design language. Their pick up trucks are good but their sedans were very bad until couple of years ago. I would never drive a Ford unless it was a cheap rental. Maybe in Europe they are popular and for good reason, but in US their design studio sucks.
  • Didn't they sell the Lincoln devision several years ago?
  • I don't understand your question.
  • "Ford makes horrible cars" Totally untrue statement... You sound like a crazy Android fan talking about WP..
    The new Ford Fusion is great
    The new Ford Focus has been praised for it's performance
    The Fseries for trucks are some if the best in the world
    The Ford Mustang is iconic, and the base versions performances rivals sports cars from 10years ago. The Gt500 is a instant classic. The Ford Excape has been know to be of great quality and value. The Ford Flex is just cool. The Ford GT speaks for itself. The Ford Edge is great. The Ford Taurus❔you got me on that one. Econoline is a huge money maker.. And so on.. Lincoln❔ Not bad cars, but you're right. They seriously need to find themselves, but not smart to shut it down..
    Now, I'm not a serious Ford fan, believe it or not, but I am a HUGE automotive enthusiasts.. I'm not new to this... My vehicle of choice is Mercedes because they are the best quality cars I have experienced..
    Now, all of the cars mentioned above were under Allen Mulally's belt..
  • Your ignorance is staggering. Firstly, Ford, under Mullaly, has switched to a "One Ford" policy. The cars they sell in Europe ARE the cars they sell here. And your right, their cars weren't that good "until a couple of years ago" when ALAN MULLALY took over! The new fusion/mondeo are simply stunning as is the new Taurus and the performance mustangs can easily hang with M3's. As for Lincoln, Ford admits that it isn't competitive right now but they've sunk 2 billion dollars in the last year in programs to turn it around for Lincoln.
  • I would never buy a Ford either from their infamous transmission replacements at 40-60k in their earlier models. I don't go near them as a result of this, but this isn't really saying too much though as I don't go near any american made automobiles these days.
  • Despite Ford's recent improvements, I personally wouldn't sink my money into a new Ford sedan, outside of a lease or rental. If you're say, a young college grad, just buying your first new car, it still is wise advice to go for a Honda, Nissan, Toyota, and now, Hyundai (which have made HUGE quality improvements).
  • Ford makes good cars I own a 2012 fusion engine a bit noisy but overall a good car
  • I know! Here in the UK ford is a very successful can't go anywhere without seeing one. Windows phones like that? Soo glad elops out though....yay! Not all bad in the end then!
  • Ford actually does make good cars now and they do insert a lot of cutting edge (for the auto industry) technology.
  • Fords are and have always been some of the best cars available. My 1971 Ranchero runs as powerful as my father's 2001 F-150 as my mom's 2008 Taurus X.
  • Ford makes good cars?? Maybe in the last 2 years but before that...i would question that. My opinion, don't bite my head.
  • Crunch! Because it's so tasty - heh. I've owned a Ford Escort back in '91, which shared the engine with the Mazda Protege. Other than a cheapy interior, that thing ran great and never gave me any problems aside from regular maintenance.
  • Hell my 96 150 runs great with over 250,000 miles
  • All of the reasons we've mentioned about Ford making good cars is why they were the only one who didn't need to be bailed out by the government... Think about that❗
  • Thank God Elop is kicked  out of the race ! I had my eyes on Tony bates but Satya Nadella  wouldn't be bad .. he has an excellent job with Azure. Alan Mulally is close to retirement which will means he can't stya on for that long. 
  • Since when do CEO's like that retire exactly when expected though? I don't think age should play a factor tbh unless he was 80+
  • True. Hugh Hefner is still Editor-in-Chief and Chief Creative Officer at Playboy. And the guy's 87.
  • If that was your job you'd have no incentive to quit either. Or die for that matter.
  • True.
  • And he's banging chicks still ;-)
  • He's trying to bang them.. Do you really think he's still tarring them up like a porn star❔.. I doubt that.. Sure, those girls are telling him he is.. Lol❕
  • I think the ford guy makes more sense. MSFT needs a breath of fresh air not a 20 year vet of the company. So long as he doesn't plan to kill any existing projects already in the mainstream that's where my vote would go.
  • ⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆
  • I agree. Car companies are adept at having to adopt quickly or die. I think MSFT could use someone with that mentality as the lead.
  • I'd still like to see him as well :D
  • I personally have a hard time with the thought of a 68 year old coming in and breathing "new life" into Microsoft. They pretty much have enterprise wrapped up as long as they don't get complacent, continuing to innovating and improving their products there. If so they should be fine on that front. But it's in the consumer market where they need to take on a new image and make strides towards changing perception around the Microsoft name and what it encompasses. I suppose it's shortsighted to think that Mulally wouldn't understand that or be able to do so because he's 68 but I think it's a valid concern. (not even taking the differences between auto production and a software/services/devices company into account) I think a lot of us have been hoping for someone younger that would, from the top down, make the company feel more lively, fluid and unified. Perhaps Mulally would be able to do that especially if he makes sure that the right people are making the right decisions below him who do give off that more youthful feeling. They also need to have GOOD, competent marketing teams who can not only message appropriately in a compelling way but who also talk with each other. Because they really need to get the different divisions on the same page and marching in lock step towards a unified vision. Though maybe they need a tough old guy to come in and bust some skulls to get that to happen. Of course Mulally has a history of selling off assets he sees as distractions. If you look at what he did with Ford and selling off Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo Cars. This makes me worry what divisions within Microsoft he might see as not being mission critical and selling. It's a different game on this side of things than on the auto front and having a wide ranging ecosystem is actually a huge benefit to Microsoft. It just needs to be managed appropriately which is where they have in many ways failed, though they are getting better... slowly... In any case, it will be interesting to see how things change over the next few years. Both short term as well as 5 - 10 years out.
  • Ditto.
  • I'm glad Elop is a distant candidate. Seemed very shady.
  • slim shady
  • He doesn't need to stand up.
  • Where is user SlimAndShady when you need him
  • @AryanAngel that's what I was thinking lol.
  • ...and not even that slim. :/
  • Look at the way Elop is standing in that picture. Back hunched. Terrible posture. Obviously not CEO material.
  • Would like to see Alan Mullaly for the time being and Tony Bates for the long run 
  • I read this some days ago. Tony Bates would be the Valley's favourite choice though.
    And honestly he would be my choice. But apparently he's too nice and is an approachable guy. Which seems to collide with the image Microsoft BoD wants to give of a "strong" company. Gates was always kind of nerdy despite being a terrific human being. Ballmer was always seen as a mad guy. Tony Bates is just too nice. He would be ideal to give Microsoft a new face and put a less evil-image on a company that still has a terrible image problem. As for Mulally, he's a great CEO. But he's not at all charismatic and most certainly will do nothing to improve Microsoft's current image problems. And that's not good for a company that's trying to go into markets dominated by young-adults and middle-aged people (smartphones and tablets).
    Oh, and if he's going for fans of Bing may want to start lighting candles and praying to every God and Saint on the book. ...
    You though I was going to end this comment without a mention to Eflop? You haven't been here for long then =P Here's what I say: I keep hoping he doesn't get to CEO until it's final that he won't. I'm glad he is less and less likely to get there. He's lost his wife to a divorce, will probably lose the CEO job at Microsoft...I think the only thing left I would like to see happening to him was for him to be fired from his new post at Microsoft by the new CEO, and end up unemployed. That would be sweet.
  • I let out a big sigh everytime I read one of your posts... ;p
  • I'm glad I didn't disappoint ;D (Also...I left Eflop to the end. So this time, whomever wants can stop in time lol)
  • Oh, don't dorry, you performed great. One thing though..... how in the hell do you know Elop is going through a divorce? I mean, I'm sure I could find it somewhere, but is there a tech tabloid that you follow lol
  • Well, that is what Elop said when he was asked to aceept a cut on his 25,000,000 good bye check from Nokia: " I cannot accept a cut because I am in the middle of a devorce...." or something like that. It was reported on WPCentral as well.
  • What Fritzly said.
    When the scandal about his paycheck exploded in Finland, it was all over every newspaper that mentioned the Nokia deal in Europe. And I'm in Europe, so...we do read these things. And we don't take kindly to these big payouts. Eflop used the divorce as an excuse because he said his wife would not accept to receive less money. It's what happens when you're not smart enough to make a pre-nuptial agreement. lol
  • I agree with most of what you said, but that bit about Elop was a bit much. He's obviously going through a rough patch and wishing unemployment on him, or anyone, especially in an economy such as today's, is a terrible thing to say. You have lost my respect.
  • Ah, you clearly haven't been here for long ;) I hate Eflop. Truly truly hate him for what he did to Nokia. He was responsible for the unemployment of many people too. People with far less money than him. He didn't bothered that much either. So I don't think he deserves any pity. On the contrary.
  • If you hate Elop so much that you want him dead, then you should go hide yourself in hole and forget about all the bad things you wish for him because he's going to be around for a long time and non of your evil wishes is going to happen to him. Do not wish for others what you don't want others to wish for you. At the time Elop came in to Nokia, the Symbian was already a burning platform and Meego was never going to save Nokia. He took the best decision possible at that time to save the great company we all love today. At certain points in time Siemens and Ericson were the leading cell phone OEMS in the world and even at one point Alcatel was the market leader. Have you ever asked yourself what happened to all those great OEMS? but for Elop Nokia would have gone that same way and you should "give the devil his praise" sometimes rather than always demonizing him.
  • I think that without Elop, everyone at Nokia might be unemployed right now.
  • I was kinda hoping for Bates, but now idk...
  • The one thing I don't understand is, why would Elop want to step down from a CEO position?
  • Look at the differences in the companies. As Nokia would be a division within Microsoft, the CEO of one company doesn't equate to the CEO of another company. Plus, I'm wondering if the news of him want to rid MS of Bing and Xbox may have doomed his chances. Microsoft obviously wants to continue to expand and Bing and Xbox Hardware are both loss-leaders to that end.
  • Nokia is not and will not be a division inside Microsoft. And with the end of Nokia's partnership with Microsoft, Eflop would be doing squat at Nokia. Not to mention he would probably be kicked out of the CEO job as soon as Microsoft was out the door.
  • Well, if we get the Ford CEO, he's gonna wear out my right pinkie typing his name. If we get the Microsoft guy, he's gonna wear out my left pinkie. My left pinkie gets enough work playing PC games, I say we hire the Ford guy.
  • Your logic is sound!
  • Yay Bing won't go away and Xbox won't be sold off! :D
  • Given Mulally's track record...I wouldn't be so happy if I were you. Actually, I would be praying for him to not restructure Microsoft as he did to Ford. Otherwise you'll see Bing killed, Xbox out the door and probably a few things more.
  • Let's go Ford's Alan so if MSFT drops in stock, he known how,to call the US government to rescue the company. In the other hand someone that know the company form inside... Could be a good candidate.
  • Except Ford was the only company to not take bailout money.
  • +1 Nice try Jorge. haha
  • What? Mulally actually has a great track record of running a tight and clean ship. Microsoft is a mess internally so in that regard someone like Mulally is a perfect candidate.
  • Depends, if he gets rid of Xbox then that would suck
  • This is really amusing... lol
  • Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella ( well S seems to be a favorite choice) S s S s S WE CAN
  • Tipped you about this news a week back when it was published in economic times (in india)
  • Just outside looking in based on nothing, the Ford guy wouldn ot be a good choice.  I believe he was CEO or boeing and then Ford and helped them get out of the recession.  Fords transition out of the recession due to governemnt assistance as well?  Doubtful the government would let the motor industry collapse and i believe help bail them out like the banks.  Even without that, Mullaly isn't a tech guy, the motor industry isn't fast paced like a tech company so if you think MS is slow now, i dnt think its giong to change with mulally.  MS is not in collapsing and we are not in a recession, there isn't a need for mullaly, MS needs to innovate, needs a CEO that can make good decision in a fast paced industry and i dont think mulally is that guy.  NOt sure if the other candidates are either, but i'd rather go internal than go mulally.  Im guessing the sharehodlers want mulally because they are thinking short term, they want to make more $$$, MS needs to thinkin long term and innovation.   
  • Totally Agree!!!!
  • Maybe MS just needs more innovative software developers more than a CE