Thursday, 07 November 2013 18:41

Microsoft's Rumored CEO Choices Show They Are Working to Keep Things The Same

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Steve Ballmer’s resignation was no shock to anyone that has been following Microsoft for the last few years. After far too many slips and mistakes the board and many investors felt it was time for Steve to go. Now the big talk is who will replace him underscored by a handful of rumors that Bill Gates might be the next guy be pushed out. If you look at each of these topics on their own you get a few interesting stories with some comedy thrown in for good measure. However, if you combine them you see a much more interesting picture being painted at Microsoft.

Under Steve Ballmer Microsoft made several shifts in business model, but all of them were in response to things that either Google or Apple were doing. Ballmer just could not get out in front of the market. Instead it seemed that he was always trying to do what everyone else was doing in the hopes that it would make money for Microsoft. Unfortunately none of his attempts worked well with the final straw being the lackluster sales of Windows 8.x. According to some inside information Ballmer was taking Microsoft in a direction that most felt was counterproductive. Ballmer wanted to move away from the very lucrative software business model that had served Microsoft for years. Instead he wanted to become focused on hardware and services. Ballmer wanted to build tablets and phones which, in his dream, would connect to Microsoft cloud services while the home would be dominated by the Xbox.

This move would have put Microsoft in competition with some of their own customers. Microsoft was pricing their licensing in such a way as to push many small and medium sized businesses either to the cloud (a Microsoft cloud) or to find alternative software for their needs. It is a move that has already cost them some customers which in turn means lost profits. As you can imagine, this has not made investors happy.

According to most of the publicly available information this is what triggered the reaction by the board and lead to the request for Ballmer’s resignation. There is also a further rumor that many investors want Bill Gates gone as well simply because they feel he might have been behind the direction Ballmer was going in the first place. If this information in accurate then how are we to interpret some of statements made by Microsoft since Ballmer’s resignation and also some of the possible candidates for CEO.

One statement made by Microsoft says that they (the company) will continue on the same course set by Steve Ballmer. If this is true, then why remove Ballmer in the first place? Then there are the rumored candidates for Ballmer’s job. You have three internal and about that many candidates from outside Microsoft. Internally you have Microsoft COO Kevin Turner along with Tony Bates and Satya Nadella.  Nadella is in charge of Microsoft’s cloud computing business and Bates is the former CEO for Skype. All of these candidates are very likely to follow Ballmer’s path into devices and services.

So, if the board removed Ballmer because he was moving in a bad direction why are these the people on deck as the next potential CEO for Microsoft? We really could not tell you to be honest. None of them appears to have any real leadership potential for a company as big and messed up as Microsoft. However, there could be a policy that for a position like the CEO there must be internal and external candidates. Maybe the board chose these three knowing that they would not meet the cut so they could expand their search outside.

This brings us to rumors about the outside candidates. Now so far no one has come out and plainly stated they are in the running for the job. So far we have only heard from people that don’t want it (and there are a few). However, according to sources inside Microsoft a couple of the external candidates are Ford Motor Company’s Alan Mulally and Stephen Elop, Former CEO for Nokia. Now one might argue the Mulally is a good choice simply because he helped make some of the needed changes inside Ford to get that company back on track. The question is: which track is he going to get Microsoft back on? It could be argued that the business model of a car company like Ford and Microsoft are similar and that as Microsoft moves more towards being a devices and services company.

Stephen Elop… well what can we say about this guy. If you check out his job history you will see that many of the companies he has worked for have either gone bankrupt or ended up in a bad enough position to get bought out. This track record includes his last employer Nokia… who is being bought out by none other than Microsoft. If hired we are guessing that Elop would also stick to Ballmer’s original plan and continue to move Microsoft in the same direction it is already going. There has even been some speculation that a place back at Microsoft was all part of the deal, although there is nothing to confirm that little bit of speculation.

All in all it looks like Microsoft has no intention of changing direction despite the initial indications that the board and investors were getting rid of Ballmer to do just that. All of the candidates that have been rumored would bring us more of the same. This does not bode well for Microsoft when you think about it. Windows 8.x is still not going to gain ground in the market and the move to a more cloud based system (with higher enterprise licensing costs) is not going to endear business to Microsoft. I really hope that the rumored “short list” is nothing more than a rumor and that the board is considering someone that can rebuild Microsoft rather than try to make it another Apple or Google. If this is not the case then Microsoft will continue on their downward spiral…

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Read 2793 times Last modified on Thursday, 07 November 2013 18:46

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