Until they dropped the bombshell of Lenovo buying Motorola the other day, the most talked about non-Google company, had to be what is going on over at Microsoft. This tech giant seems to be stumbling all over itself and apparently cannot make good decision to save their soul – heck, we would settle even for a bad decision, but let's be definitive about it.
On one hand we have Steve Ballmer throwing chairs at employees that want to leave to go and work for Google, and only the other hand we have the "trojan horse" that was Stephen Elop, sent from Microsoft to Nokia, on the third hand (yes, I have more than two) you have Microsoft buying Nokia, but do they really know what to do with it. In July, we have Ballmer announcing a total restructuring of Microsoft and then the next month, he announced his "retirement," and now we have to wonder who will replace Steve Ballmer and when will it be announced? There is enough news there to last a year, and it comes in the form of excitement, yet disturbing, at what direction Microsoft is heading.
Bill Gates must be shaking his head – but if the Bloomberg report is correct, he may be shaking it as the ex-Chairman of Microsoft. Based on insider information, they are reporting that Microsoft's board is about to announce Sat Nadella, the company's enterprise and cloud chief as their next CEO, as well as discussing the possibility of replacing Bill Gates as Chairman with Microsoft lead independent director, John Thompson.
This is really a critical junction for Microsoft as they try to move away from a PC software innovator to the world of mobility – both in terms of hardware and internet type services, such as the "cloud." Google and Apple have shifted people and companies away from PC and desktop computing to lightweight laptops, powerful tablets, and eventually to smartphones that have the processors, memory, and applications that a computer had only year or two ago. As Ballmer's parting gift to Microsoft, he approved the purchase of Nokia to have in-house smartphone capability, but the world of mobile devices is much different from the world of PCs, and it yet remains to see if the new CEO and board can "catchup" to the Googles of the industryb.
Microsoft has only had two CEOs – Gates and Ballmer – since its inception and many people have wondered just how much influence Gates had as Chairman…some say, possibly too much. With Gates staying on in some capacity, others are wondering if that is a good thing, considering their current shake-up, although their stock rose 1.8-percent to $37.51 on the exchange this morning.
Nedella has done a good job in his present position with Microsoft – since he took over in 2011 revenues increased from $16.6 billion to a high in June of $20.3 billion. When Ballmer changed Nedella's division from "server business" to "cloud and enterprise" he was on board with the idea to focus on devices and services. According to others, he also has a strong reputation and credibility with the engineers. Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets claims that they should look to an outsider to replace Gates as Chairman and said:
"If they are going for the CEO who is right down the hall from Steve Ballmer, you've got to give investors a bone. said Ives, who has the equivalent of a hold rating on the stock. It would obviously be a big change and a historic change but it's obvious Microsoft needs change in terms of strategy in terms of the next leg of growth."
John Thompson, 64, would probably be looked on as a favorable candidate for Chairman. He brings in over 40 years of technology to the role – he was a longtime IBM executive before moving to technology-security company, Symantec Corp. in 1999 and took the company from $600 million in sales to $6 billion in sales over his ten-year reign. He stepped down in 2009 and currently runs Virtual Instruments that makes software that tracks application and hardware performance. When he joined Microsoft's board in 2012, he started asking the "tough" questions of Ballmer, which many say created an environment that help Ballmer step up his plans to retire early.
This caps a five month search for Ballmer's replacement – rumor has it they started with 100 possible candidates and wanted to try to make their decision by early 2014. The board included many inside candidates as well as outsiders, but quickly narrowed the search – Thompson, himself, is head of the committee. Hopefully, Microsoft can put this behind them and focus on their future. The technology landscape of the world is rapidly changing and Microsoft needs to focus on that and not internal strife…maybe these are just the people for that job.
Let us know in what you think about Microsoft, Nokia and their future in the mobile world – we would love to hear from you.