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Ford CEO is the top candidate to take over Microsoft - report

Ford CEO is the top candidate to take over Microsoft - report

Fri 27 Sep 2013 8:28am GMT / 4:28am EDT / 1:28am PDT
HardwarePublishing

Alan Mulally in "serious" discussions to take over from Steve Ballmer

Alan Mulally, the CEO of Ford Motor Company, has emerged as the front-runner to succeed Steve Ballmer at Microsoft.

According to a report on AllThingsD, which cites several "people with knowledge of the situation," Mulally has warmed to the idea of taking over as CEO of Microsoft, despite his initial reluctance.

Mulally keeps a house in Microsoft's home city of Seattle, which he bought during his time as CEO of Boeing. He has always intended to return to the city, and maintains strong ties to Microsoft - he advised Ballmer on the company's recent internal restructuring.

Until recently, Nokia's Stephen Elop, who joined Microsoft after the recent multi-billion dollar acquisition deal, was thought to be the most likely candidate to replace Ballmer. However, sources claim that "serious" discussions are now taking place with Mulally.

Another potential candidate is the Microsoft exec Tony Bates, who was CEO of Skype prior to its acquisition.

15 Comments

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

968 1,162 1.2
If I were Alan I would stick with Ford. A lot more people are going to be driving Ford cars in 20 years than using Microsoft devices and operating systems I suspect.

Posted:6 months ago

#1

Aleksi Ranta
Product Manager - Hardware

247 96 0.4
Popular Comment
I understand a CEO doesnt need to know the ins and outs of everything that makes software/hardware work but i do wonder
what a former EVP of Boing and now CEO of Ford for 6 years would have to give a devices and services company?
Anyone?

Also on "he advised Ballmer on the company's recent internal restructuring". The merits of that restructre are yet to be seen for a few years so i wouldnt put that on my CV for the time being.

Posted:6 months ago

#2

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

632 223 0.4
If I were Alan I would stick with Ford. A lot more people are going to be driving Ford cars in 20 years than using Microsoft devices and operating systems I suspect.
Mustang RT.

Posted:6 months ago

#3

Thomas Dolby
Project Manager / Lead Programmer

319 253 0.8
He has good credentials in how he swung Ford around, and he clearly has a big passion for engineering, so it's not as bleak as some would say. I think this move might bode well for the devices / hardware division of Microsoft, but I'm unsure about the core software and services that currently make the heart of the company though, I certainly don't see a guiding vision in this field coming from Mulally. One thing for sure is that it will be a different experience from Gates and Ballmer with their tech backgrounds and long history with the company.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Thomas Dolby on 27th September 2013 1:13pm

Posted:6 months ago

#4
Popular Comment
there are a ton, a ton of qualified software people out there, but for these boys club CEOs to just shuffle from one corp to another, not even understanding the core businesses they are taking over is nonsense and actually begins to explain why so many companies are so poorly run. Those at the top dont even understand their products or have any personal history in them, to them its all just a MBA numbers game and spreadsheet.So no, sorry, the car business is nothing like the software business.

Just example number 4728649 of what is wrong with this country.

Bates would be a much better choice IMHO, at least he has software in his blood and background.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 27th September 2013 2:57pm

Posted:6 months ago

#5

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

968 1,162 1.2
@ Todd To be fair not all companies behave that way. Most dot-com companies operate pretty differently. You wouldn't see something like this at Google, for example (and before anyone brings up Eric Schmidt understand that Larry Page and Sergey Brin brought him in as a partner because he possessed business knowledge that they didn't, he did not replace them in any capacity, and he STILL has a software engineering background).

That said to take the broader part of your comment, In general I would say the problem with most people in charge of most things in America and the world in general is their background is almost always in business and law, never in hard disciplines (civics, engineering, computer science, physics, biology, etc.).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 27th September 2013 2:57pm

Posted:6 months ago

#6
Nicholas, the problems usually come via second generation leadership. There is the founder who grew the business and obviously had expertise in it, and these are the golden ages of the company. Then the founder either retires, or dies and then comes the trouble. Either inept children take over, or MBA sharks who are all about quarterly profits, and as these companies continue, they continually move away from what they once were. Turning into the souless entities,and what is worse yet now, even know these companies are now souless and poorly run, many are no longer allowed to fail, since they have their tentacles wrapped so tightly around free money and sweetheart deals with government and banks. This is leading to the problem we now face, before big souless companies failed quickly once they became inept, now they dont, and the allow no room for start ups to pick up the market share.

Bah, I could go on, but Im sure Im preaching to the choir here, just look around at our economies, the evidence of inept, souless, and even evil business practices are everywhere.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 27th September 2013 3:13pm

Posted:6 months ago

#7

Jeff Kleist
Writer, Marketing, Licensing

209 86 0.4
Cars, planes, boats, Xboxes, what's the difference?

Just like Best Buy hired a French restaurant CEO, who has gutted a lot of their loss leaders, and made them even more useless by outsourcing the media department stocking so that the employees have even less clue about what's there. I work a lot with movie and music companies, and most of the problems with those industries began when they stopped promoting the guys who were pushing speakers and lights 20 years ago, and started brining in know-nothing MBAs. Well see how this guy does, but the track record of such things isn't promising

Posted:6 months ago

#8

Pablo Santos
Developer

23 18 0.8
I think he might do a great job precisely because of his engineering background.
Time will tell =)

Posted:6 months ago

#9

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

1,993 902 0.5
Start your clocks, kids. Countdown until someone drags Henry Ford's 1920's columns from The Dearborn Independent into this (well, other than me... and I'm not dragging - just recalling old history) starts in four minutes...

Posted:6 months ago

#10

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

770 1,005 1.3
I can't see the CEO of Ford doing any wonders for Microsoft and agree with both Aleksi and Todd. There is a huge disturbance in the force with this one.

Posted:6 months ago

#11

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,119 889 0.8
I was looking for someone young and disruptive like Marissa Mayer but its not my decision.

I just hope to see the vast number of MS products and services I use improve and a company at the bleeding edge of innovation in the industry.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 28th September 2013 9:38am

Posted:6 months ago

#12

Christopher Pickford
Producer

53 58 1.1
@Todd:

"...but for these boys club CEOs to just shuffle from one corp to another, not even understanding the core businesses they are taking over is nonsense and actually begins to explain why so many companies are so poorly run."

So you know this chap do you? Know his strengths, weaknesses, and his goals for setting Microsoft on the straight and narrow? Or are you just assuming that he only knows about cars?

While there is a visible revolving door for some CEO positions, to assume that they're all just in the 'CEO club' is a mistake. These people and they are often driven, hard working and very, very intelligent. Writing someone off before taking a deeper look isn't a smart move, and Alan Mulally might be the right person to get Microsoft's priorities and working practices back on track, especially since he could bring an awful lot of up-to-date consumer knowledge with him from Ford (where he has been since 2006; a long stint that's rare in the CEO world.)

I'm all for calling out bad decisions when they're made, but this one doesn't look bad on the face of it. He certainly did well with Ford - he might be able to do the same with Microsoft.

Posted:6 months ago

#13
I thought they might have gone for Scott Forstall or the safe option of Steven Elop.

I think what he could do is split the company into a consumer and business services division and sell of the consumer division under the Xbox brand.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 30th September 2013 12:52pm

Posted:6 months ago

#14

Nick McCrea
Gentleman

163 185 1.1
I guess your opinion on whether someone like this is a good candidate hinges on where you think the problems at MS currently lie. I look at Microsoft and see so many issues, I honestly don't know which are the most important. Depending on your view of which malaise is the greatest threat, you could argue MS need a software guru, a product visionary, or a ruthless Larry Ellison type to bring discipline and an end to the waste.

- A company which has to focus on both enterprise and consumer, to the detriment of both.
- A history of botched product launches.
- Sitting on the mother of all burning platforms, and attempts to carve out new markets with redesign (Windows 8) just make the platform burn all the faster.
- A history of either being too early into new markets or too late. Usually both!
- A morale problem from years of pseudo-science driven stack ranking HR chicanery.
- An image problem, stemming originally from antitrust activities, but rammed home by repeated product failure.

I tend towards the view, now, that MS are trying to fight too many battles at once. They're trying to be Google and Apple and Facebook and IBM and Sony, all at the same time. I think they need to decide what they are and focus.

Posted:6 months ago

#15

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