Mulally ends Microsoft CEO speculation. He's out

Mulally ends Microsoft CEO speculation. He's out

Summary: Cross another one off the Microsoft Next CEO list. Ford CEO Alan Mullaly has said he isn't taking the job, according to the Associated Press.


After months of non-denying denials, Ford CEO Alan Mulally has finally said he isn't going to take the open CEO job at Microsoft.


In a January 7 interview with the Associated Press, Mulally said he is not planning to leave Ford for Microsoft and that he will stay at Ford at least through 2014. The Associated Press Twitter account tweeted the news around 5:20 p.m. ET.

Mulally said he wanted to put an end to the speculation regarding him going to Microsoft and finally decided to speak definitively about rumors that he might be the successor to outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Mulally declined to comment as to whether he spoken with anyone at Microsoft about the CEO job, according to the AP report.

Back in December 2013, Reuters reported that the Ford board of directors, meeting on December 12, planned to pressure CEO Mulally to answer directly whether or not was in the running to replace outgoing Ballmer. Mulally's handlers have been in non-denial denial mode.

The reason, as Reuters reported, citing "one source close to Ford's board": "People don't write about Mustang, they don't write about earnings, they write about Mulally."

Microsoft still has yet to announce who will be the next CEO at the company. Some had expected the announcement to happen before the end of 2013. Microsoft officials have said that the new CEO will be named in early 2014. The company is believed to be continuing to consider both internal and external candidates. Internal names that have been bandied about include Cloud & Enterprise chief Satya Nadella and Business Development chief Tony Bates, as well as Nokia CEO Steven Elop. 

Mulally has been a friend and advisor to Ballmer over the years. Microsoft's "One Microsoft" reorg is believed to have been influenced heavily by the "One Ford" structure.

I've asked Microsoft officials for comment on the AP report. No word back so far.

Update: "“Out of respect for the process and the potential candidates, we don’t comment on individual names," a Microsoft spokesperson said.

Topics: Steve Ballmer: The Exit Interview, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Opps Rick Sherlund

    Know it all analyst screws up. Again. Why does anyway pay money to take this guy's advice?
  • Excellent

    Can't imagine a car company CEO doing any good for Microsoft. How much would he know about UX? About what customers want? About computers in general? Does he even know how to use Word?? ;)

    Seriously, new CEO needs to have a tech company background, IMO.
    • Actually...

      ...Mulally was an engineer before he was promoted into management. I don't know how much he knows about computers, but he would certainly understand technicians and how to manage them.
      John L. Ries
    • How is this for a little UI design project?

      From Wikipedia: "He led the cockpit design team on the 757/767 project. Its revolutionary design featured the first all-digital flight deck in a commercial aircraft, the first two man crew for long range aircraft, and a common type rating for pilots on two different aircraft. He worked on the 777 program first as director of engineering and, from September 1992, as vice-president and general manager.
    • is a possible

      Maybe microsoft wanted to keep the status quo?
  • Ballmer and Gates gotta go

    No CEO worth his or her salt is going to take the job with Gates and Ballmer hovering on the board. When they go, the candidate pool will get larger and more capable.
    • I disagree

      I didn't care much for MS under either Gates or Ballmer, but I think the institutional memory and understanding of the organization will be valuable going forward. MS needs a new direction, but completely repudiating the last 30 years won't help.
      John L. Ries
      • You are right

        Microsoft needs a bit of work, but is quite profitable and large. Continuity of some sort is required.
      • A "new direction" is awfully hard

        When the previous CEO is the largest single shareholder and sits on the board.
        • It isn't as hard as you think

          Jerry Yang's successors did some very un-Jerry Yang things at Yahoo, even before he left the board.

          Besides, a "new direction" can mean many different things. In Microsoft's case, radical transformation is not particularly called for. Microsoft is one of the most profitable businesses in tech, and profit growth during even Ballmer's era was quite significant. They may have a reputation for being stodgy, but it isn't entirely an earned one.

          Microsoft needs tweaking. Not wholesale change. And some of the tweaking people have been asking for has already been done (such as dispensing with stack ranking and eliminating the culture of internecine warfare.)
  • What a surprise

    And Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead
    Mike Galos
    • Franco live!!!

      Franco is the world recordman in containing the breathing. Regards from Barcelona.
      luis river
  • What happens if no one wants the job?

    After all, it's not as though the prospects are breaking down the doors.
    • I'm sure plenty of MS execs would take the job

      The question is whether any of them should be offered it.
      John L. Ries
    • ?

      "After all, it's not as though the prospects are breaking down the doors."

      How do you know? Just because they are not involving the public in the search doesn't meant they don't have a very good and long list. They just respect the privacy of everyone involved. Do you think a CEO that is turned down wants it to be known publicly?
    • Still fuming mad they didn't pick you, ego.sum.stig?

      Whatever gave you the impression they wanted you to begin with?
      • Mate, I hope you get paid what you're worth

        Then again...
        • I actually do get paid what I'm worth

          and it's actually pretty good. Health, Dental, and a good 401(k), too.
          • So, living off the parentals then

  • At this point...'s no surprise that Mulally is out of the running. I'm pretty sure he had to tell Ford's board he was staying put before Christmas. And given his age, leaving a safe CEO gig to take up a much less certain one in a different part of the country never made much sense to me. There might be a seat on MS' board waiting for him when he retires, but I have no doubt he will be finishing his managerial career at Ford.
    John L. Ries