/// While Mulally/Nadella Remain the Favorites, Bates Is Silicon Valley’s Choice for Microsoft CEO
Tony Bates About 10 days ago, AllThingsD reported once again that Ford CEO Alan Mulally was in the lead position to take over as CEO of Microsoft, with one internal exec as the No. 2 choice. As I noted in a post on November 19 : “Ford CEO Alan Mulally remains in the pole position for the job, with the idea that he will be more a ‘caretaker’ type CEO, whose deep experience and inspirational charisma will get the company on the right path, while also training up a number of internal candidates to eventually take over from him. The top pick among the possible heirs inside for that princeling role: Enterprise chief Satya Nadella.” Bloomberg reported similarly that Mulally and Nadella were the two top candidates yesterday. In the story, it noted that the Microsoft talent search documents are calling for someone with an “extensive track record in managing complex, global organizations within a fast-paced and highly competitive market sector; track record of delivering top and bottom line results. Proven ability to lead a multi-billion dollar organization and large employee base.” Let’s be clear, none of this is new. ATD and others reported in September that Mulally was the leading name in the race to run the software giant. The Mulally/Nadella scenario is both intriguing and also makes basic sense, along with another newer scenario in which a board member — like Seagate’s CEO Stephen J. Luczo — becomes the CEO (inside the company, this is being jokingly called “pulling a Dick Cheney”). But more than a dozen tech leaders in Silicon Valley, as well as several top Microsoft execs, I have talked to over the last week have one single choice to lead the company: Tony Bates. Having the love of Silicon Valley, of course, is perhaps a little dicey for anyone from Microsoft, despite years of bridge-building done by many company execs, including the British-born Bates, after decades of hostility. But those I spoke to said Bates had all the right assets, making him “the best candidate across all of the various criteria,” said one source. “Tony is a bold choice that would say a lot to the rest of the tech world that Microsoft is ready to engage,” said another source close to the company. “Mulally makes sense only if the board wants a transitional figure, which means it basically doesn’t know what to do yet.” Among Bates’s pluses, according to these sources: Scale management experience from his time as an exec at Cisco, where he managed about 12,000 global workers and was responsible for more than $20 billion in revenue. Technical ability, although Bates does not have a technical degree (he dropped out of mechanical engineering program in Britain). But, at Cisco, he was in change of development of a complex networking product, and he also holds many patents related to the area.