An indication of the displeasure stockholders have had with Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer is the fact that upon the announcement that he will soon be leaving Microsoft’s stock price rose more than 8 percent. When investors calmed down a bit from the happy news the stock did return to a more reasonable level.
Celebrating Ballmer’s departure are critics who point out that he placed the future of Microsoft in the hands of the wrong products, fell behind in the race to the switch to mobile computing, was not really up to the task of choosing good design options, and, to top all these mistakes, is also a poor public speaker.
Microsoft has not yet picked Ballmer’s successor. Recent reorganization at Microsoft did not make it a priority to establish a natural process for succession. Therefore for the next 12 months Ballmer will stay put while John Thompson, the company’s leading independent director, heads up the search committee.
Bill Gates is also on the search committee, so be prepared for his name to be floated as a possible replacement for Ballmer, but this option seems unlikely. More probable is one of the following candidates:
Tony Bates: Executive at Skype, this past summer he also managed business development for Microsoft. He was at Cisco Systems for a while.
Julie Larson-Green: She was once considered Ballmer’s natural successor. Microsoft’s reorganization placed Green at the top of MS’s devices division.
Qi Lu: Veteran of Yahoo search, Lu also worked on Bing for MS and came out as another winner in the MS makeover this summer. He is now the head of apps and services.
Five other possibilities include Tami Reller, Steven Sinofsky, Stephen Elop, Paul Maritz and Kevin Johnson.
In case you have been feeling bad about Ballmer losing his job, his 333 million shares in Microsoft should help him ease his transition.