NEW YORK – Rumors that Ford (NYSE:F) CEO, Alan Mulally, will become the next head of Microsoft will not quit. In recent weeks, several articles have appeared with ‘experts’ proclaiming that the board is close to picking Mulally as Microsoft’s first external CEO. While Mulally is the darling, he might not be the best fit for leading Microsoft into the post-PC age.
Why is Mulally not a good fit for the CEO spot at Microsoft? There are several reasons, first culture, second Microsoft is not in crisis mode, at least not today, and finally, his age, while his experience is a plus, Microsoft needs a young, motivated, and enigmatic leader to drive the company towards 2030. Think Jack Welch circa 1980.
‘An automobile has about 10,000 moving parts, right? An airplane has two million, and it has to stay up in the air’ – Alan Mulally, 2007. This famous quote was given by Mulally when executives at Ford bemoaned his lack of experience in the automotive sector – Mulally was previously the President and CEO of the Commercial Airplanes division at Boeing (NYSE:BA). Furthermore, technology companies often have very different personalities and markets, and the culture at Microsoft might not mesh with Mulally’s style.
Microsoft is not in the same position that Ford was in when Mullaly came to Detroit. For one thing, the company is sitting on a mountain of cash. In addition, Microsoft enjoys a near monopoly in several markets; albeit those markets are shrinking, but the company is years away from a BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) or Kodak-style meltdown. Finally the company has all of the pieces of the puzzle to regain dominance, enterprise space, a cloud solution that is gaining momentum, and with the acquisition of Nokia (NYSE:NOK) a value chain that can deliver next-generation devices.
Mulally has already made his fortune and at 68, the decision to pick him as Microsoft’s CEO would be nothing more than a caretaker position to keep the seat warm for the CEO in waiting, probably an internal candidate with not quite enough experience. Mulally, would actually be better suited to take on the role of Executive Chairman rather than CEO. In this capacity, Microsoft could position their best young talent as CEO at a critical time when the company needs to start implementing its vision for a post-PC world.
Whoever Microsoft’s next CEO is, the Board should pick a visionary leader who can drive the company not for the next year but for the next 20.