Is Microsoft Preparing to Name Satya Nadella CEO?

It seems the candidate pool is getting smaller…

Satya Nadella 2012I’ve been trying to cover Microsoft’s CEO search since Steve Ballmer announced his retirement last year.   There have been a number of interesting candidates and one or two that I think would have made a decent leader for the tech giant. Recently when Alan Mulally pulled himself out of the running, Nadella appears to have emerged as the top candidate.

It also seems that this may have been the direction all along.   While no one at any major news outlet is citing any named sources, and with other internal and external candidates either having been eliminated or dropped out, Nadella is the one name that has remained near the top of the list.   Microsoft wants to name a new CEO in the early part of 2014.

ZDNet’s Larry Dignan says that the Microsoft CEO spot is “the job that no one is jumping for.” I agree. It truly seems as though succeeding Ballmer will be a big challenge, especially with him continuing to be part of the Board of Directors after his retirement.

However, it seems as though Nadella won’t have to contend with Bill Gates as Chairman of the Board. There have been a number of stories circulating with Nadella’s candidacy looking more and more like a done deal, that Bill Gates will exit the organization as Chairman of the Board at Microsoft.   Gates wants to focus the rest of his life’s work on the Gates Foundation that he founded with his wife.   Board member John Thompson, who is heading up the CEO search, is said to be a front runner for the Chairman spot if the rumors about Gates stepping down are true.

The whole setup with Gates and Ballmer still on the Board is likely one of the biggest issues for anyone interviewing for the Microsoft CEO spot. Who would want the company’s top leadership role when you have both the original and 2nd CEO scrutinizing your every move?   Not many, it would seem.

Mary Jo Foley also said that when she sat down with Ballmer AND Nadella in separate interviews in November of 2013, she didn’t get any kind of indication as to who would eventually win the CEO spot; and she still isn’t certain.   The world is waiting for an answer; and it looks like it will have to wait until some thing formal comes out of Redmond. Until then, it may look good for Satya Nadella and his decades of experience at Microsoft; but we’re definitely in wait and see mode.

What about you? Do you feel that Satya Nadella is the best choice for Microsoft CEO; or is there a better candidate out there? I’d love to hear what you think in the discussion, below.

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