Microsoft narrows the list of candidates that will be considered for the CEO position to five people, which includes three internal candidates.

Alan Mulally Stephen Elop and Alan Mulally make the shortlist for Microsoft’s next CEO

The hunt for Steve Ballmer’s successor is in full swing, as Reuters mentioned today that Microsoft has managed to trim its list of candidates from forty to five.

Among the candidates being considered for the role is Nokia’s ex-CEO Stephen Elop, who used to run Microsoft’s business software division before he left for Nokia in 2010. He was pivotal in Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services unit for $7.2 billion. Another external candidate who has been strongly linked for the job is Ford’s current CEO Alan Mulally. He has been credited with turning things around at Ford following the 2009 crisis. Ford was one of the few automotive manufacturers that managed to reinvent itself as a manufacturer, and Mulally has been recognized as the main reason for that turnaround.

Internal candidates that are being considered include Satya Nadella, who leads Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise division. Nadella has been with Microsoft since 1992, and was at the helm of the server and tools division for many years, which was one of the main revenue generators for Microsoft.

Another candidate is former Skype CEO Tony Bates, who was an acqui-hire when Microsoft acquired the Swedish communication giant back in 2011. Bates is the head of business development and strategy.

Information on the other candidate has not been divulged to Reuters, although it has been mentioned that the search committee is looking for candidates from a variety of different sectors that include life sciences and consumer electronics.

Microsoft investors have been clamouring for a change since Ballmer announced that he would retire within a year, and some even went as far as suggesting that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer resign from the board. Investors are concerned that even if a new CEO at the helm would not be able to make broad changes if Gates and Ballmer retain their influence on the Microsoft board. Even though Ballmer is resigning as CEO, he will continue to be on the board of directors.

Activist shareholder ValueAct was offered a seat on the board in August, and will get the same amount of access to the five shortlisted candidates as everyone else on the board. Although the candidates have been shortlisted, it will take a few months before a final decision is made.

Source: Reuters