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Will Microsoft Tap Ford Motor
Will Microsoft Tap Ford Motor's Mulally as CEO?

By Seth Fitzgerald
November 29, 2013 10:52AM

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Industry watchers think Alan Mulally may be the best candidate for the Microsoft CEO job, yet Mulally reportedly remains mum on the possibility. Considering that he has already helped Microsoft with its current turnaround, some speculate Mulally may be misleading the media into thinking that he has no interest in the Microsoft CEO position.
 


Now that time is running short, Microsoft has reportedly taken another step toward determining who will take over the company once its current chief, Steve Ballmer, leaves his position in early 2014. Last month, the list of potential CEO candidates dwindled and now that November is almost over, Microsoft may be focusing on just two of the people on that list.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Microsoft executive vice president Satya Nadella have both risen to the top of the candidate list, with former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop falling by the wayside. Both Mulally and Nadella have great qualities that will benefit Microsoft but the company now has to decide whether it wants to hand over the CEO reins to someone within the company or if it is willing to look elsewhere.

Unlikely Choices

Earlier in November it was reported that Microsoft had shortlisted just four candidates, Mulally, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, Microsoft cloud boss Nadella, and former Skype president Tony Bates. Even though Elop and Bates are still on the list, Microsoft apparently no longer considers them to be the best candidates for the job and instead, Mulally and Nadella have risen to the top.

Since Ballmer announced that he would be stepping down and leaving Microsoft, Nokia's former CEO Stephen Elop had been a crowd favorite and a likely choice. With Microsoft's recent acquisition of Nokia, Elop was nearly as close to the company as Nadella, but with more experience at the head of a major tech firm.

Unlike Mulally, who has stayed quiet regarding Microsoft's interest in him, some of Elop's ideas for how Microsoft would be able to improve have already leaked out to various technology publications. According to those reports, Elop would focus on Microsoft Office and move away from physical devices such as the Surface tablets.

This sort of plan is the exact opposite of what Microsoft is currently doing, which may be the reason that the company is no longer looking at Elop as a viable option.

Alan Mulally: The Best Choice?

Unlike Nadella, Elop, and Bates, who would likely step into the CEO position without any hesitation, Mulally is still the CEO of Ford, which makes it more difficult for Microsoft to convince him to takeover. Every time that Mulally has been approached on the subject, he has stressed that he is happy where he is and he wants to stay with Ford.

Even so, Mulally appears to be the best candidate and considering that he has already helped Microsoft with its current turnaround, he may be misleading the media into thinking that he has no interest in the position.

As the head of Ford, Mulally was able to lead the car manufacturer out of the doldrums and into profitability without receiving aid from the federal government (something that very few car companies have done). He was able to do this by changing Ford's business strategy and exciting employees.

With Microsoft focused on retaining a leadership position in multiple technology segments, a strong CEO with a fresh approach may be exactly what the company needs.
 

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James Will:

Posted: 2013-11-29 @ 12:25pm PT
Mulally appears to be the favorite candidate for the position of Microsoft’s CEO, the 68-year old could very well end up being a temporary replacement and not a permanent solution. Speculation in the market suggests that he may be hired to guide Microsoft in the right direction only until an internal candidate is ready to take up the position.



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