Is Microsoft nearing the end of its CEO search?


Kara Swisher reports on scuttlebutt that the Microsoft CEO mess may be coming to a close. Why a mess? Well, 160 days have passed since Ballmer announced his departure, and he’s still slinging hash at Microsoft. And the long, long goodbye has been bad in every imaginable way. As SWisher puts it, aside from roiling the boards at Ford and Ericcson, where leading candiadtes are CEOs, they’ve

[…] utterly agonized the rank-and-file, slowed a massive restructuring inside the company and exposed some serious boardroom rifts, in a search that has now dragged on for close to six months.

In tech terms, that is an eon — Google changed its strategy more times yesterday than Microsoft has in all the time this search has taken. That is why sources said that the company — after turning in a strong quarter last week and with Chairman Bill Gates refocused after a spate of international travel — was readying its pick with a goal to announce in early February.

And the name at the top of the list — or the last man walking — is Satya Nadella.

Recall that in December, I came out in favor of Nadella (see Is it Mulally or not? I like Nadella, personally.), and here’s why:

Some have been saying that recent information coming from Microsoft suggested that a technology-savvy exec might be a better fit [than Alan Mulally of Ford]. 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.

Well, I was wrong about the timing, but it seems like Microsoft’s board is finally ready — after six long, long months — to chose the obvious person for the job.

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