I have remained mum about the public twists and turns in ‘who’s going to be the next Microsoft CEO’ for a few weeks, because it just didn’t seem that anything definitive was happening. (Well, with the exception of Qualcomm’s Steven Mollenkopf stepping up to CEO of Qualcomm, effectively taking himself out of the race.)
However, the stock market has spoken. Yesterday, Alan Mulally announced that 2014 numbers would be lower than expected at Ford, and several financial analysts suggested that Mulally was giving out this unusual guidance in order to get it out before leaving for Microsoft. Ford’s stock fell 7%. And then, this morning, Mulally held a press conference about the announcement and stock drop, and did not rule out a move to Microsoft, which would have calmed the markets. He also apparently does not attend a regular key meeting of Ford executives, according to Reuters.
Some have been saying that recent information coming from Microsoft suggested that a technology-savvy exec might be a better fit. Bill Gates stated the CEO spot is a “complex role to fill, involving a complex business model and the ability to lead a highly technical organization and work with top technical talent.” That would seem like a leaning toward Satya Nadella, the current head of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise business units, and he’s known for getting people to work together.
My sense is that the decision is close, and it’s down to these two. Personally, I think Nadella is a better fit for the direction I think Microsoft needs to head, which is strongly toward the enterprise and away from the consumer.