Microsoft considers Mulally for top job

SEATTLE — Microsoft directors have discussed chief executive officer candidates including Ford’s Alan Mulally as they look for a successor to Steve Ballmer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Directors have also floated the names of other candidates including Nokia Oyj CEO Stephen Elop, who will join Microsoft when its $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s handset unit closes; Microsoft business development and evangelism chief Tony Bates; and former Microsoft No. 3 executive Paul Maritz, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is confidential.

The search process is still in the early stages and the board isn’t close to making a decision, said the people. The board retained Heidrick &Struggles to look at internal and external candidates after Ballmer, who has led the world’s largest software maker since 2000, said in August that he plans to retire within a year.

The board’s task to find a new CEO is urgent as Microsoft undergoes a strategic change and confronts an altered technology landscape. While it once rode a wave of growth in the personal- computer industry with its Windows operating system, the company has been retooling itself more recently as consumers gravitate to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Ballmer has overhauled Microsoft’s management and strategy to accelerate development of hardware and services, and last month agreed to buy Nokia’s handset unit. Microsoft also has sought to head off shareholder dissent by reaching a cooperation agreement with ValueAct Holdings LP, which would let the activist investor claim a board seat starting next year.

Tony Imperati, a spokesman for Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, declined to comment on specific candidates or to make Bates available.

Maritz didn’t respond to a message for comment. Elop didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Ford Motor’s Executive Chairman Bill Ford on Tuesday touted the abilities of the company’s next generation of executives, while emphasizing the No. 2 U.S. automaker’s plan for Mulally to remain CEO. Mulally and Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields, the top candidate to next lead the Dearborn, Mich.-based carmaker, last month reiterated a plan announced in November for the CEO to remain through at least 2014.

Jay Cooney, a spokesman for Ford, said Mulally was unavailable. Mulally hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment on his potential candidacy for the Microsoft job in the past week.

“Alan remains absolutely focused on continuing to make progress on our One Ford plan,” Cooney said in an e-mail. “We do not engage in speculation.”

Technology blog AllThingsD reported Mulally’s candidacy for Microsoft’s top job last week.

More in Herald Business Journal

Boeing could help launch orbiting space station for the moon

“We should have a lunar base by now. What the hell has been going on?”

How the Airbus-Bombardier alliance could squeeze Boeing

“It makes Boeing look like they’ve been playing tic tac toe against a chess master,” says an analyst.

More self-awareness could help build a better medical system

Marcy Shimada of Edmonds Family Medicine writes the second in a series about fixing our health care system.

Scratch-and-sniff brochures aimed to prevent disaster

Puget Sound Energy has distributed more than a million scratch-and-sniff brochures to… Continue reading

Jewelry, accessories store Fuego opens second site in Snohomish County

Northwest-based jewelry, accessories and gifts store Fuego opened a new outlet store… Continue reading

Extreme cleaning company Steri-Clean opens in Mukilteo

The first Washington franchise of the Steri-Clean company will celebrate its grand… Continue reading

Justices to hear government’s email dispute with Microsoft

A lower court ruled emails in a drug case couldn’t be searched because they were in Ireland.

Negotiators give up hope of rewriting NAFTA this year

A fourth round of negotiations between the U.S., Mexico and Canada ended in mutual exasperation.

Facebook acquires TBH, an anonymous teen compliment app

TBH, short for “to be honest,” prompts users to answer polls about people they know.

Most Read