After King Steve “there’s a kind of hush” Ballmer announced that he will be abdicating to get a bit of peace and quiet there has been much talk about who would take the crown.
While everyone has so far talked about an outsider taking the job, it is more likely that if Vole wants to continue down the path of this devices and services strategy they will have to get an insider to do it for them.
An outsider would want to change that strategy and forge the company in a bold new direction. They would also wanted to end the Game of Thrones between the various parts of the company which has been crippling the company for years.
Satya Nadella, who works in the cloud and enterprise department, has served Vole for 21 years. He knows the inner workings of the company, and where all the bodies are buried. Nadella is well placed in the more important areas of servers, data centres and online services and was promoted to run the newly created ‘cloud and enterprise’ unit. In other words he is the ‘services’ person behind the devices and services side of Microsoft’s new vision.
His problem is that he once worked as a vice president in the Office unit and might not have the ability to bang the heads together of the Windows and Office factions. In Microsoft these two kingdoms hate each other’s guts and have been at war for years.
Another potential candidate is Tony Bates, who is the head of corporate strategy. He is new at the company and came as CEO of t’Skype,.
He can provide the internet-centric, consumer-focused technology that Microsoft is pants at. Ballmer put him in charge of corporate strategy and relations with developers and PC makers. Bates’ weakness is that he has not been at Microsoft long enough to know how to deal with the odd flaming missile that comes his way and lacks software experience.
Another name is Terry Myerson, who is a big cheese in the operating systems department. Like Bates, his web software company was bought by Microsoft in the late 1990s. Ballmer appointed him to run the full range of operating systems at Vole which is sort of like the Grand Vizier role.
However he was unable to make the Windows Phone unit a big player in the smartphone market.
Then there is Qi Lu, who is in charge of Bling and other Internet business. He comes from Yahoo and is a big name in the online search and advertising area. He even has 20 US patents with his name on them. He now runs the ‘applications and services’ group, which is in charge of putting Microsoft’s established software businesses, like its Office suite, onto the Web. He was pivotal in Ballmer’s cunning plan. Of course he has the albatross of the Bing search engine which cost Microsoft billions of dollars without threatening Google dominance.
The only woman on the list is a rank outsider, one Julie Larson-Green, who is in charge of the Xbox gaming console and Surface tablet
She has been a Volette for 20-years and was an acolyte of recently beheaded Windows chief Steven “Little Finger” Sinofsky. She led the re-design of Windows and Office. She is in charge of the ‘devices and studios’ unit, and is tainted by the lack of success of the Surface tablet and her close involvement with Windows 8.
Then there is Eric Rudder, who is the R&D man. He has been in the background of Vole for 20 years and is an uber-techie.
He is the nearest the company has to a big thinker in the mould of Bill Gates, however he has never been a business unit leader and would probably end up with his head on a pole if he tries to play the Game of Thrones.
Kevin Turner, who is Microsoft’s Chief Operating Officer for the last eight years, is a pretty good bet in that he is similar to Ballmer. The former Wal-Mart Stores exec is the King of Sales and is an archetypal salesman and motivator. He does not have any engineering background, which could be a liability.