With Ford CEO Alan Mulally Officially Off The List, Microsoft’s CEO Hunt Could Stretch Into February

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With Ford CEO Alan Mulally again putting his potential candidacy to be the next CEO of Microsoft to rest, you might think that the process is winding down, and that the company will soon land on a new chief.

According to re/code, that doesn’t appear to be the case. This morning Kara Swisher reported that the choice is “not expected to come before February, according to multiple sources.” So, ample time rests between now and when the company will appoint its new leader.

In a way this makes sense. Why announce a new chief executive right before its January 23rd earnings? Waiting not only suits Gates’ schedule (Swisher’s point), but also allows the next CEO to join the company after its earnings have impacted its share price, preventing them from starting in a deficit not of their own making.

The same names continue to swirl: Nadella, Bates, Elop.

You have to wonder if there comes a point in which Microsoft’s waiting to make a choice could weaken its final selection. If the company delays, only to select a long-time candidate, investors could take that to indicate a board that was reluctant to make the choice, and only did so with an eye on the clock. The last thing Microsoft needs is a neutered boss straight from the gate.

Reuters reports that Microsoft is “closer to naming a new chief executive.” Indeed, but we’ve reached the point in the CEO selection process akin to waiting that last half an hour before leaving for a party.

Microsoft is keeping a low profile at CES this year, which fits given its current In Transition status. It will be interesting to see how the company changes tonally when it finally has its new leader installed.