Microsoft is favouring Ford CEO Alan Mulally and its own Satya Nadella as the most likely candidates to succeed Steve Ballmer as CEO, with former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop (pictured) less likely to be offered the job, according to Bloomberg.
Neither Elop or former Skype CEO Tony Bates have been completely discounted as candidates, with sources saying the situation could change, with other people also being considered for the role.
Elop became Nokia’s executive VP of Devices & Services following September’s announcement that Microsoft had agreed to acquire the Finnish firm’s Devices & Services business for €5.4 billion.
Having saved Ford from a US government bailout in 2009, Mullaly is believed to be the kind of turnaround specialist favoured by many Microsoft investors.
The company has been losing ground to Apple and Google in the mobile space, as Ballmer focused on devices such as the Surface tablet and Xbox gaming console, and offering software over the internet.
Since launching Windows Phone 8 in October 2012, entering the strategic partnership with Nokia and reaching agreements with Samsung and HTC to launch Windows Phone 8 devices, the viability of having a third mobile OS ecosystem to seriously challenge Android and iOS has still to be proven.
A Ford representative told Bloomberg that the situation at the car maker had not changed and Mulally “remains completely focused on executing our One Ford plan”.
As head of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise division, Nadella has the kind of senior management experience that would make him suitable for the step up to CEO.
However, Elop has strong links with Microsoft, having been president of the company’s business division before taking the helm at Nokia in 2010. The mobile-related experience he gained at Nokia could boost Microsoft’s mobile strategy, while his familiarity with both companies is likely to help the integration of Nokia’s Devices & Services unit into Microsoft if the deal goes through.
Steve Ballmer said in August he would be stepping down as Microsoft CEO in the next 12 months. He succeeded Bill Gates as CEO in 2000.
The Microsoft board met on 18 November regarding the search for Ballmer’s replacement, according to chairman and co-founder Bill Gates. Speaking at a shareholder meeting last week Gates said he and the other directors have met many candidates and that the CEO position is “a complex role to fill”.
The board prepared a document outlining the requirements for the next CEO, including an “extensive track record in managing complex, global organisations within a fast-paced and highly competitive market sector; track record of delivering top and bottom line results”.
The document seen by sources said the candidate should also have a “proven ability to lead a multi-billion dollar organisation and large employee base”.
Although the board intends to make its decision about the company’s next CEO by the end of the year, sources said an announcement could be pushed back to early 2014.