Microsoft has narrowed its list of 40 candidates to replace Steve Ballmer to about five people, according to well-placed sources. The outgoing CEO's potential replacements include Ford Motor Co-chief Alan Mullaly, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, former Skype CEO Tony Bates, and Microsoft cloud and enterprise chief Satya Nadella. Despite the shortlist the process is still expected to take a few more months – Ballmer has said he would retire within 12 months of his August announcement.
While Microsoft is keeping mum about the matter, its CEO search committee is reported to be interviewing executives from a wide range of sectors, including life sciences and consumers. Even though the company has remained highly profitable, it has lost ground to Apple and Google in terms of mobile computing under the Ballmer administration. Investors are insisting on more emphasis here, away from Ballmer’s focus on consoles and internet subscription-based software. Shareholders have also called for Bill Gates to step down as chairman as part of their efforts to bring about a gradual end to the Ballmer-Gates era. Gates, who has focused on philanthropy since he gave up the CEO position in 2008, is said to not be considering retaking his former position.