First there were murmurings, and now there is speculation. Reports that came out earlier in the year suggested that some Microsoft shareholders want Bill Gates out of the company.
So much so that they were pressurizing the co-founder to sell his stake and resign as chairman.
No matter how likely (or unlikely) this is to happen, a former Microsoftie that worked at the company between 1994 and 2002 reckons that Gates will most likely retire in about one year. Hal Berenson touched upon this topic in a recent post on his blog.
He believes that Gates’ own retirement is in reality the reason why he got all emotional at a recent shareholder meeting — if anything, it could quite possibly be the last such event he attends:
“If you want to know why Bill was so emotional at the recent shareholders meeting it was probably because this was likely his last as Microsoft Chairman, not just Steve Ballmer’s last as CEO. The founder’s era at Microsoft is coming to an end.”
Hal then goes on to explain and cite his reasoning for this. The new CEO, what else:
“A new CEO, particularly an outsider, could not succeed under similar conditions. In fact an outsider will almost certainly insist that Bill phase out of any role at Microsoft before he takes the job. An insider might have a different take if he had a long time connection to Bill. Only Satya Nadella probably fits that situation, and even Satya would be better off without Bill as Chairman.”
Having that that, while there are only a few external candidates Microsoft is said to be in discussions with right now, the most prominent name here is Alan Mulally — and it could be a possibility, no matter how small, that he would ask the board to phase out Bill Gates before taking over the reins.
In fact, the former engineer also goes on to suggest that while Mulally may not be the absolute best option for the CEO role (considering his lack of IT expertise), he could be the best choice for the chairman. That is, in case, an insider takes over CEO duties.