Microsoft's CEO search to continue into 2014, according to John Thompson

By Graeme Burton
18 Dec 2013 View Comments
Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer

Microsoft's protracted search for a new CEO to replace Steve Ballmer will continue into the new year, according to the Microsoft director charged with leading the search.

John Thompson, formerly CEO at Symantec, who joined the Microsoft board in February 2012, has admitted in a blog post that an appointment will not be made until early in 2014, at the earliest. It follows a string of rebuffs from leading candidates, who have preferred to stay at their existing companies rather than takeover at Microsoft.

"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," wrote Thompson in a blog posting.

He continued: "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."

It is believed that a number of candidates approached by Microsoft have considered and turned down the possibility of running the world's biggest software company.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally, who some thought too old at 68 and lacking in technology industry experience, reportedly preferred to stay at the vehicle-making giant whom he led through the 2008 downturn without requiring a bail-out - unlike rival General Motors.

Qualcomm chief operating officer Steve Mollenkopf, meanwhile, was appointed CEO of the semiconductor company instead. While Mollenkopf was already being lined up to succeed Paul Jacobs, that plan was speeded up due to Microsoft's interest, conceded Jacobs in a Reuters interview.

Those withdrawals have left Satya Nadella, the current head of enterprise software at Microsoft, as the favourite to succeed Steve Ballmer, although the Microsoft board is still considering whether to bring in an outsider.

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