Microsoft's board of directors gave a heads up on the status of their search for a new CEO, saying that the new chief won't be named until early 2014. John W. Thompson, a member of Microsoft's board of directors, reports that the company started out with over 100 possible candidates and has narrowed the list down to around 20 individuals.
"As the chair of the Board's search committee, I'm pleased with our progress," Thompson writes. "The Board has taken the thoughtful approach that our shareholders, customers, partners and employees expect and deserve. After defining our criteria, we initially cast a wide net across a number of different industries and skill sets."
"At our shareholder meeting in November, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates provided an update on our search process," he adds. "He noted that this 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."
Thompson points out that Microsoft has had only two CEOs in its 38-year history. Steve Ballmer is the most recent, who said in August that he would step down as CEO within 12 months. Speculation and rumor have pointed to Ford's Alan Mulally who has indicated that he plans to stick with the automotive company until the end of 2014. Another supposed candidate is Nokia's Stephen Elop who, according to sources, may want to sell off the Xbox and Bing departments if he sits on Microsoft's throne.
"As a Board, we are determined and confident that the company's third CEO will lead Microsoft to renewed and continued success. We're looking forward to 2014 and the opportunities and decisions that lie ahead," Thompson writes.
Just weeks ago, more than a dozen tech leaders in Silicon Valley, as well as several top execs in Microsoft, actually admitted that they want Tony Bates for the CEO job, the company's current executive vice president of Microsoft responsible for Business Development, Strategy and Evangelism. Bates is a "bold choice," one insider reportedly said.
Sources claim that his past experience at Cisco is seen as a big plus, as at the time he managed around 12,000 global workers and was responsible for more than $20 billion in revenue. He also was placed in charge of the development of a complex networking product even though he does not have a technical degree, and currently holds many patents related to the area.
Sources told Bloomberg that EBay Inc. CEO John Donahoe and former VMware Inc. CEO Paul Maritz declined to be considered. Microsoft's cloud-computing chief Satya Nadella is still on the list as is Tony Bates and Stephen Elop. Steve Mollenkopf dropped off the list when he took the role of CEO at Qualcomm back on December 12.
Microsoft is going through one of its biggest transformations in decades, seeking out a new CEO while it morphs into a devices and services company. Microsoft is also close to finalizing its acquisition of Nokia's devices and services unit.