Who Will Replace Steve Ballmer As CEO At Microsoft In 2014?
December 18, 2013

Who Will Replace Steve Ballmer As CEO At Microsoft In 2014?

Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

In August Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, announced that he would retire within a year, but he will apparently still ring in the New Year while holding the top spot at the Redmond, Washington-based software giant.

Microsoft will not announce the next chief executive until 2014, the company’s board announced on Tuesday. This has lowered speculation as who might succeed Ballmer, who is only the second person to helm the company during its 38-year history.

Since August 23, when the board announced that Ballmer would step down, there has been much speculation as who would be the next CEO at Microsoft. The company has confirmed that it has looked both internally and externally for his replacement.

“We’ve been focused on finding the best possible person to lead the company. As we approach the end of the calendar year, there has been natural interest in getting an update on where we are in the process. I’m writing to share this with you here,” John W. Thompson, member of the Microsoft’s board of directors, wrote on the Official Microsoft Blog on Tuesday. “As the chair of the Board’s search committee, I’m pleased with our progress. 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.

“We identified over 100 possible candidates, talked with several dozen, and then focused our energy intensely on a group of about 20 individuals, all extremely impressive in their own right,” Thompson added. “As you would expect, as this group has narrowed, we’ve done deeper research and investigation, including with the full Board. We’re moving ahead well, and I expect we’ll complete our work in the early part of 2014.”

A number of high profile names have already been suggested. The short list of potential contenders has included Stephen Elop, the former chief executive of Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia. Elop had headed the mobile phone company’s business since September 2010, and actually came from Microsoft, where he headed the Office division.

The two companies had been partners in the Windows Phone business, and in September Microsoft agreed to buy Nokia’s handset division and patent portfolio for $7.2 billion. Elop announced his resignation from Nokia to avoid any conflicts of interest, and this only increased speculation that he might be the heir apparent to succeed Ballmer.

Other names that have been floating around as potential successors include Ford CEO Alan Mulally, who reportedly had confirmed his intention to leave the auto maker; and Steve Mollenkopf of Qualcomm, who was recently named future CEO of that firm – potentially in a bid to ensure that he would stick around and lead the chip maker.

Thus the next CEO at Microsoft remains very much up in the air.

Ballmer is the second person to helm Microsoft. He was a classmate and friend of company founder Bill Gates since their days at Harvard University in the 1970s. Ballmer took over for Gates in 2000.

“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said when he announced his plans to retire back in August.