Microsoft could be ready to announce a new CEO within the next week, and it looks to be an insider, after the lengthy outsider search failed to produce results.
Re/Code and Bloomberg both report that Satya Nadella, the head of the server and tools division and 22-year Microsoft, is now the leading choice, although Tony Bates and Stephen Elop remain in the running.
Whoever among this group ends up getting picked will be a second choice. Microsoft's board chased a lot of outside people, and to pick Nadella or the others suggests the board gave up and just went with the inside guy.
Consider: first it was Allen Mulally of Ford and John Lawrie of CSC. Lawrie faded fast but Mulally hung in there for months before bowing out. Then came word that the job would go to former VMware CEO and ex-Microsoft exec Paul Maritz, who turned it down immediately. Then there was talk of Steve Mollenkopf, COO of Qualcomm, who ended up being promoted to CEO. Finally, there was Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg, who also shot them down.
How would YOU feel to be the sixth choice for anything?
There is still the chance for an outsider. Re/Code boss Kara Swisher is still rooting for current VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, who would be a great choice, but there have been no hints about him in any direction.
Swisher says this protracted search is making a mess inside Microsoft. It's disrupting the reorg announced prior to Ballmer's announcement and has left the company in a state of uncertainty. On the one hand, you want the Microsoft board to make the right decision, but on the other hand, they can't drag this on much longer.
Both Re/Code and Bloomberg report that Steve Ballmer will step down from the board, a wise decision, but there are conflicting stories between the two over Bill Gates. The founder and 800-pound gorilla is either going to become more involved or leave as Chairman. John Thompson would replace him.
Nadella would be wise to demand this. He needs those two out of the way to do what he must and should demand it as a condition of his acceptance.