Blockbuster news if true: the Microsoft co-founder could end up stepping down as chairman and Nadella gets nod for CEO.

Bill Gates
photo: AP Images

Microsoft is considering having co-founder Bill Gates step down as chairman of the board of directors and naming insider Satya Nadella its new CEO, Bloomberg News is reporting. If true, this is blockbuster news.

It appears some recalcitrant shareholders — the cohort that pretty much forced Steve Ballmer into his slow-motion exit as CEO — have also been roiling the waters over Gates, who co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen 39 years ago. Their contention is that Gates needs to pick between running his philanthropic efforts — the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — or focus on Microsoft. And the thinking seems to be not even Gates can do both.

Bloomberg wrote that Microsoft director John Thompson, former CEO of Symantec and a top exec at IBM Software, could step in as chairman. Thompson has been leading the CEO search.

Speakers: Satya Nadella - President, Server and Tools Business, Microsoft

Speakers:<br />Satya Nadella – President, Server and Tools Business, Microsoft

A Microsoft insider said nothing has been announced internally but said the rank and file just want this drawn-out drama to end. Until a new CEO is named, no one knows even whether the reorg announced last summer (by Ballmer) will proceed.

As for Nadella, he is a respected veteran executive with the company having run the business applications division, Bing, and now Server and Tools. Other internal candidates include Tony Bate and Stephen Elop. And the list of rumored outsider candidates is a who who of Global 500 execs, including Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg, and Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollonkopf.

If Gates is out as chairman, it’s a seismic event, but even if he remains on, Nadella would be only the third CEO in Microsoft’s storied near-40-year history.

I’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment, but don’t expect any to be forthcoming until the news is public. As expected, Microsoft had no comment.

Here’s a clip of Nadella talking to Om Malik at our Structure conference last June:

This post was updated several times after it was published with additional details.

  1. Nadella is far better than some pure outsiders like FORD CEO who I bet does not even know how to write a hello world.

  2. Nolan Necoechea Thursday, January 30, 2014

    “It appears some recalcitrant shareholders – the cohort that pretty much forced Steve Ballmer into his slow-motion exit as CEO — have also been roiling the waters over Gates, who co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen 39 years ago.” – such a nicely put together sentence

    1. wow @nolan i don’t knowif you’re being sarcastic or not but when i read that now i sort of overdid it….

      1. Nah, the sentence was fine. It relayed the information in a descriptive and easy to read format. Although its possible I”m a bit biased as I’m also a devote proponent of the em-dash.

  3. This was always on the cards, MSFT need to shift focus from the declining PC market to cloud computing


  4. Satya ran Bing for 3 years during which it lost market share and was as low as 7%. Why does the board think the same guy can compete with a much more powerful Google now?

    This is a disaster for Microsoft. A timid, unimaginative board going with a “safe and on-controversial” choice.

    1. hm, as opposed to, “DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS”?

      A disaster for Microsoft is to continue what they are doing now – time to end the soap-opera drama and get back to writing solid code.

  5. This is a disaster and bad for one microsoft because satya is a weak leader with no ability to prevent internal politics of microsoft or align people to one microsoft vision over their self interests. His division is suffering from massive duplication and internal politics and he is not bold enough to take a step to fix it.

    He is a timid, make people feel happy with no vision or guts.


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