Microsoft's shares reportedly fell 3 percent on Thursday after Ford CEO Alan Mulally said in a Bloomberg television interview that he plans to stay with the company through next year rather than abandon ship and take Steve Ballmer's position as CEO of Microsoft. Mulally is reportedly the top candidate for the job followed by Microsoft's own Satya Nadella.
Previously, Ford Motor Co. director Edsel Ford II told reporters at an event for the new Mustang in Dearborn, Michigan, that Mulally "is staying through the end of 2014 and that's all I know." This is really nothing new, as Mulally and Ford representatives have said all along that he would stay until the end of next year.
Of course, that means Mulallay will be unable to fill Steve Ballmer's shoes, who plans to vacate the CEO chair as late as August 2014. Yet Microsoft investors want the change to take place before August so that the company can quickly transition into a Devices and Services entity with a new leader. A final CEO decision could extend into January 2014, according to insiders close to the matter.
Bloomberg reports that Ford's directors haven't pressed Mullaly to make a public statement about the whole Microsoft CEO business because he already clarified his plans to stay with Ford until the end of 2014. He made his intentions perfectly clear to the company board, Edsel Ford said.
Yet there's a good reason why eyes are still locked on Ford's current CEO. "[Mulally is] the turnaround guy, he's the streamlining guy," Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners LP in New York, told Bloomberg in an interview. "All these people who are clamoring to get rid of Bing and Xbox and just focus on the core, he would be the guy most likely to do that."
Insiders recently told AllThingsD that more than a dozen tech leaders in Silicon Valley, as well as several top execs in Microsoft, want Tony Bates for the job, the company's current executive vice president of Microsoft responsible for Business Development, Strategy and Evangelism.
"Tony is a bold choice that would say a lot to the rest of the tech world that Microsoft is ready to engage. Mulally makes sense only if the board wants a transitional figure, which means it basically doesn't know what to do yet," said one source close to the company.
Another source told AllThingsD that Bates is "the best candidate across all of the various criteria."
At 1:10 PM on Thursday, Microsoft shares dropped 3 percent to $37.78 in New York after dropping as much as 4.5 percent. Ford shares rose 1 percent to $16.78 after rising as much as 1.4 percent, Bloomberg reports.