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Report: Microsoft narrows its CEO search to five including Ford’s Alan Mulally

Microsoft Corp has narrowed its list of external candidates to replace Chief Executive Steve Ballmer to about five people, including Ford Motor Co chief Alan Mulally, according to Reuters. (AP/Jack Dempsey file photo)

The man behind Boeing, when the company was based in Seattle, might be returning to the Northwest.

For months there have been rumors that Ford CEO Alan Mulally was being recruited to lead Microsoft. Sources tell Reuters in this exclusive report that Mulally and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop are on the narrowed list of about five external candidates they’re considering.

Microsoft’s internal candidates include former Skype CEO Tony Bates, who is now responsible for Microsoft’s business development, and Satya Nadella, the company’s cloud and enterprise chief, according to Reuters.

Microsoft is not commenting on the report. Ford isn’t either.

It was just a few months ago in August when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said he would retire within 12 months. They have some time to find the right person for the job.

Speculation inside Microsoft is as wild as it is outside the Redmond campus. Some employees I’ve talked with are rooting for Elop because he knows the culture. He worked at Microsoft as the head of the Business Division, responsible for the company’s baby – Microsoft Office

Others view Mulally as a “turn around king” and that’s what they think the company needs.

Ford had been struggling until Mulally got there and returned it to profitability. In a way, he did that at Boeing too.

Mulally began his career as a Boeing engineer in 1969. He worked his way up to becoming executive vice president of Boeing and the CEO of Boeing Commercial. He’s credited with the company’s resurgence against Airbus before he left for Ford.

He’s been asked directly if he is interested in being the CEO of Microsoft. Other reporters have asked him if he is being considered for the job.

Mulally answers with a simple, “We don’t comment on the speculation.” He has said there is no change in Ford’s plan for him to stay on as CEO through the end of 2014.


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