Stephen Elop as the next CEO of Microsoft?
By Jim Lundy
The ink isn’t even dry and now rumors are swirling about Stephen Elop taking over the reigns at Microsoft. The person who started the rumors is none other than Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Yesterday, Microsoft announced that it was buying the Nokia Phone business for just over $5 Billion. In the fine print, it also mentioned that Stephen Elop was going to return to Microsoft to run that group. This blog post is about the possibility of Stephen Elop becoming the next Microsoft CEO. We will be publishing a separate First Cut that analyzes the purchase of the Nokia Phone Business by Microsoft.
Stephen Elop as Microsoft CEO: Steve Ballmer started the Rumor
The rumor about Stephen Elop becoming the next CEO of Microsoft was reported in the Seattle Times. The specific quote from Steve Ballmer: “Stephen will go from external [candidate] to internal.” Now that Steve has told us what he is thinking, what is the probability that Mr Elop becomes the next Microsoft CEO? Our take is that the probability is very high for one reason: He is Steve Ballmer’s go-to-guy.
First, Stephen Elop was vetted very hard once already: he took over the famed Microsoft Office Division in 2008 when Jeff Raikes stepped down. Jeff was a legend and Stephen was brought into replace him. To net it out, Raikes was Bill Gates’ key go-to-executive- and Raikes left with Gates to run the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. That left a gaping hole at Microsoft that CEO Ballmer had to fix.
Stephen Elop as Ballmer’s Key Executive
Elop became Steve Ballmer’s key guy the day he agreed to join Microsoft back in 2008. Some wondered what was up when Elop was tapped to become the Nokia CEO in 2010. Less than a year later, Nokia announced that it was going all in with Windows Phone OS. Jump ahead today and no one is jumping up and down saying that the Nokia Phones that run Windows Phone 8 have been a huge success.
However, Ballmer had a plan to go after Apple. He needed Elop’s help to do that. Elop did the dirty work and moved to Finland to become CEO of Nokia. Now it looks like he is going to be rewarded for all of his hard work.
In summary, there will be a number of candidates that are vetted to be the next CEO of Microsoft. The question is whose candidate will win? Steve Ballmer will have a say and given his interview, we now know that Stephen Elop is one of his top choices. We’d also note that Stephen Elop didn’t have to return to Microsoft. Why would he leave Nokia if there wasn’t another option on the table? Developing…