Microsoft Narrows CEO Search, Shortlist Includes Nokia's Stephen Elop

Ever since Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced his retirement in August, the company has been busily hunting for a new head honcho, and according to a Reuters report, among those on the shortlist are Nokia’s Stephen Elop, Ford CEO Alan Mulally, and three other external candidates whose names could not be determined.

In addition to those five, there are at least three names from within Microsoft’s own ranks that are options for the big chair, including Tony Bates, former Skype CEO who is now in charge of Microsoft’s business development, and Satya Nadella, who runs Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise areas.

Stephen Elop
Stephen Elop

Reuters says that the first draft of the list included some 40 names, so the fact that we’re down to eight candidates means that there’s been some progress made by the Board of Directors-appointed special committee directing the hire.

Mulally’s credentials include turning around a deeply struggling Ford company in just a few years and weathering the federal bailout in 2009. Elop is an intriguing candidate because he worked for Microsoft until 2010 until he left to head up Nokia--a company that sold its handset business to Microsoft, effectively marrying the two companies’ futures.

Steve Ballmer
Retiring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

The committee could appoint a new CEO at any time, although they’ll have to make a decision before Ballmer takes his leave from the company in August 2014.