More Microsoft CEO rumours and the possibility of a Gates return, sorta

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The picking of a new CEO for tech giant Microsoft is one of the most awaited events of this quarter. According to new rumours, reported by Recode, the decision could be announced any day now.

According to the report, sources close to the matter have insisted that “they heard it from major investors and other Wall Street sources who had been assured that the board had made its choice and would soon reveal it”.

The decision was expected to have been made last year with a list of candidates, featuring the likes of Nokia’s Stephen Elop, Ford’s Alan Mulally and Microsoft’s own Satya Nadella, who seems to be the favoured front runner. However a blog post by John W. Thompson, a member of the company’s board of directors leading the hunt, said the company would only make its decision this year. So far no announcement has been made and the company is fast heading towards its earning call.

The decision has taken a bit of time and new names keep emerging. The latest contender to emerge is Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg, according to a Bloomberg report. Interestingly of all the candidates on Microsoft’s shortlist, only one comes from within the company: Satya Nadella. Others close to the Redmond company are hedging their bets on Nokia’s Stephen Elop, who if we are being honest didn’t do a fantastic job with Nokia and may not be the best option for company in Microsoft’s position.

Consumer or enterprise

Truth be told, Microsoft’s sluggishness to pick a CEO could have more to do with its indecision about the direction the company is headed. Whoever is picked need to turn things around in the company’s consumer services arm or make the tough decision to sell it off, something some of its investors would be only too happy with. Picking business focused Mulally or enterprise head Nadella only emphasises an enterprise focused company and as CNET sees it Mulally would more likely sell off the consumer arm than lose money on it. Picking Elop could indicate a focus on consumer services but as I said, he hasn’t been very good at it.

However, no matter who the board likes, there is still the matter of getting Bill Gates’ stamp of approval. Word on the Microsoft campus is that Gates has been spending a lot of time there and has been very active of late. He would not want to see the company broken up that way, which means whoever is picked needs to be able to keep Gates’ Microsoft intact.

As CNET points out:

…Nothing is going to happen which doesn’t have Gates’ full support. Microsoft’s still-very engaged chairman prefers bringing in another brainy nerd and technology visionary, someone more like Paul Maritz, a former Microserf who used to run VMware and now is CEO of Pivota. Also, Gates, already the second-richest person in the world, didn’t go to war with the US government in the late 1990s just to split up the company voluntarily.

No matter the decision there has to be one soon. The longer the company goes without a clear path or leader the worse things will get for them. Currently the company makes the bulk of its money on its enterprise business but that can only be sustained for so long.

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