Microsoft may have found its next CEO. Bloomberg on Thursday reports the executive board at Microsoft Corp. is prepared to make Satya Nadella, the company’s enterprise and cloud chief, the successor to departing CEO Steve Ballmer.
The Bloomberg report also said Microsoft’s board is also considering replacing Bill Gates as chairman of Microsoft, according to “people briefed on the process.”
The people familiar with the plan, who asked not to be named as the private process is still ongoing, also added Nadella emerged as one of the stronger candidates to replace Ballmer a few weeks ago, and that the plans aren't officially finished.
The replacement for Gates as chairman of Microsoft, meanwhile, could be the company's lead independent director John Thompson, according to the alleged sources. Thompson is currently heading the search for Microsoft's CEO.
The search for a new CEO began on August 23, when Microsoft announced Steve Ballmer would retire within the next 12 months. A special commitee, created by Microsoft's Board of Directors, was designed to direct the succession process. Chaired by John Thompson, the board includes Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Audit Committee chairman Chuck Noski and compensation committee chairman Steve Luczo. The commitee worked with Chicago-based recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles to help consider the best internal and external CEO candidates.
Ballmer, who became the second CEO of Microsoft after Gates relinquished the position he held since 1975, was the first business manager hired by Gates in 1980. After heading up several company divisions following Microsoft's incorporation in 1981, Ballmer became Microsoft's president from July 1998 to February 2001.
As CEO, Ballmer helped boost company revenue by expanding the existing Windows and Office franchises, introducing divisions for data centers, devices and entertainment—particularly the lucrative Xbox brand. But in recent years, critics both in and out of Microsoft named Ballmer as a big factor behind a number of recent failures, including the company's botched launch of Windows 8 and its inability to innovate faster than its rivals at Apple Inc., even though tablets were reportedly on Microsoft's agenda more than a decade ago.
Former Microsoft VPs also blamed Ballmer for a few notable departures within the company, including Kevin Johnson, who ran Microsoft's online division but went to manage Juniper Networks; Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who's now back with his former company after Microsoft acquired Nokia last year; and Ray Ozzie, who, although Bill Gates had personally christened him as Microsoft's next "big-picture" guy, decided to leave to start his own project—a mobile communications startup called Talko.
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