By on November 6, 2013

Ford-CEO-Alan-Mulally-2

Looking for a change in leadership once CEO Steve Ballmer steps down, Microsoft has announced its shortlist of five potential candidates, including current Ford CEO Ford Mullaly.

Alongside former Skype CEO Tony Bates, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, and two other internal candidates, Mullaly made the cut after the Redmond, Wash.-based software proprietor looked over 40 names from industries including life science and consumer. That said, it seems Microsoft is looking from its well of partnerships (Ford via SYNC and its successor MyFord/MyLincoln Touch) and purchases (Skype and Nokia) for the final decision.

While Microsoft remained mum on the search, Ford spokesperson Jay Cooney had this to say:

There is no change from what we announced last November. Alan remains fully focused on continuing to make progress on our One Ford plan. We do not engage in speculation.

On Mullaly’s part, he has said repeatedly that he continues to plan to stay with the Blue Oval through the end of 2014, though there are inklings from those in the know that he could leave earlier for a new opportunity elsewhere should such a thing were to occur; Boeing has also been mentioned as a possibility for Mullaly’s Midas touch.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

45 Comments on “Mullaly On Short List to Head Microsoft...”


  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Have to give credit to Mullaly with respect to its performance at Ford. I would not as far to say he has a Midas touch, but definitively kept Ford solvent thorough the storm.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      From my time working there under his reign, I agree that his management touch isn’t in any way magical. It’s actually rather conventional, he just follows through like few actually do.

      He got involved and made sure people were working cooperatively and that mistakes didn’t get hidden. He made sure that goals were focused and everyone knew what they were supposed to do. He led by example and the company fell in line behind him.

      • 0 avatar
        Silvy_nonsense

        danio3834, I agree with what you’ve said but I’ll add that his decision to leverage every tangible and intangible Ford asset in exchange for billions in private loans was a pretty unconventional move. At the time I thought he was off his rocker.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          That move looks great in retrospect. It makes you wonder if he knew the credit markets would freeze and/or Ford would benefit from being the only car company not under the government’s thumb. SOMEBODY, probably Bill Ford, had to have wondered, “How are we going to pay this money back?” Hocking the family jewels only works if you have a plan to pay the pawn shop and get the jewels back. There has to be a huge dollop of luck involved with Ford’s turnaround, but Mulally gets the credit.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    To depart at a time when Ford reliability surveys place it at the bottom of the pile seems in poor judgement to me!

    • 0 avatar
      mkeenly

      Reliability surveys are different than actual reliability. I’ve had no issues with my 2013 Ford Focus ST. At the same point in it’s life, I had already taken my 2003 VW GTI 20th Anniversary into the dealer for numerous issues to be addressed under warranty.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    This is just window dressing. Why would he abandon his current gig for a decidedly sideways move? I cannot fathom what guys like Mullaly think in the inner sanctum of their minds, but this would seem counter-intuitive. The corporate cultures couldn’t be more diverse. As for the Sync/Touch debacle? Can I suggest reverting to the ancient model of manual switches? Or is that just the expected geriatric heresy?

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Why? It would be a new challenge. I doubt Mulally needs more money, but at this point the challenge of energizing Microsoft as the grand finale to his career might well be appealing.

      • 0 avatar
        olddavid

        009, you’re probably right. It is the same conundrum I face when pondering why Warren Buffet is still grinding away in the M&A world. Like I said, I don’t understand the mindset.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Why climb a mountain? Why accept a challenge?

          Because it is there.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            At some point, a mountain climber says. “I’ve been to Everest, let some younger guy climb K2.” Mulally’s reputation is sky-high right now and he’s in his 60s. Microsoft carries more risk than reward. Mullaly succeeded at Ford partly because he got carte blanche from Bill Ford, whose company was in the tank. Will Bill Gates and Paul Allen get out of the way while the company is still profitable?

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    He still has a home and family in Seattle. He never really moved to Michigan. That would be his primary reason. Software expertise, given the My Ford Touch fiasco, is not a consideration.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      MSFT is more likely than back to Boeing, IMO (MSFT needs serious help after all). I wouldn’t go back to a company after it let me leave after decades of service.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        Boeing and Ford both sell large manufactured tangible products. Although MS sells some hardware products they are primarily a software company. I don’t see how Mulally fits in with this kind of business, or what he has to contribute.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Good point on mfg products vs software. While his skillset or preference might be another mfg company, I think in the CEO’s seat the ability to shape a company through delegation, product mgt, and asset mgt trumps any experience or understanding of mfg products vs other industries.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          I think you hit the nail on the head “MSFT is a software company”. That’s their problem. No one wants to pay for software anymore unless they absolutely have to. Tech firm revenue mostly comes from other sources and Microsoft has proved to be particularly inept and making the transition. Worse, as one of the few software companies with the most locked-in revenue stream (via PC licenses of Windows, server software and Office), they have managed to piss off many of the potential buyers of their primary cash cow.

          Even worse, Microsoft has consistently shied away from the sort of world-changing opportunities which they, more than any other firm, have the resources and expertise to bring to market. They have an awful “me-too” and “give them enough to keep them happy” mentality that really resembles the attitude of the aristocracy more than a nimble tech firm. When was the the last time that MSFT produced a single “wow, that’s awesome!” kind of product?

          This firm, more than any other desperately needs a “let’s bet the company” leader. Failure to do so will allow the company to dissipate as it become more and more irrelevant. I’m not sure Mullaly is that sort of guy.

        • 0 avatar
          Silvy_nonsense

          “Although MS sells some hardware products they are primarily a software company. I don’t see how Mulally fits in with this kind of business, or what he has to contribute.”

          Leaderships skills are independent of product/service/industry knowledge. Mulally is one of the few CEOs who has a demonstrated track record of taming humongous, massively messed up corporate bureaucracies. He did it at BCA and he did it again at Ford.

          Microsoft rode the tech waves and succeeded for decades despite poor leadership (yelling at people, creating and defending bureaucratic empires, creating an employee evaluation scheme that shuts down both innovation and productivity, taking a zero sum approach to success, etc.) Microsoft, like Ford and Boeing, has smart people who are capable of a lot, if only a good leader could set clear goals, break up silos and fiefdoms and reward teamwork. Microsoft needs Mulally or someone like him to clean up the organization.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    So Mulally leaves Boeing, where the 787 Screamliner – conceived and developed under his watch – leaves behind a record of program delays, electrical fires, and groundings. He takes over Ford and we watch as Ford’s quality record dives on new models thanks to multiple issues such as ill-performing DCTs, turbo reliability, and of course MFT. Please explain to me what makes this guy such a corporate catch? He’s barely preferable to Robert Nardelli.

    • 0 avatar
      AlternateReality

      You nailed it, though my takeaway is slightly different. Corporate types place far more importance on the impressive sales numbers that Boeing and Ford rang up under Mullaly’s watch, and less so about the ongoing quality and technology concerns plaguing both companies.

      “Popular, but crap” seems to be a recurring theme for Mullaly… which makes him a perfect fit for Microsoft, no?

    • 0 avatar
      ExPatBrit

      Mulally left Boeing in 2008, I don’t believe all the outsourcing issues for the commercial aircraft division created by those ex McDonnell Douglas [email protected] had a lot to do with him. Look at all the bribery and corruption from the head office.

      The 787 will be fine, they just outsourced way too early.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        You can’t take credit for the successes and simultaneously deflect blame for all the failures. Unless you’re an elected official in Washington DC.

      • 0 avatar
        AlternateReality

        Mullaly signed off on a sham unveiling of the first ‘flight ready’ 787 on July 8, 2007. At that time, ZA001 was little more than a cobbled-together shell of an aircraft – yet he and other Boeing lackeys stood proud in front of a crowd of some 15,000 employees and customers – and a worldwide online audience – on 7/8/7 and lied outright, saying the plane before them would fly in little more than a month from then. It finally did… in December 2009.

        If anything, Mullaly is far more complicit in the never-ending 787 farce than he is in Ford’s failing experimentation with MFT and turbocharged micro-motors.

        • 0 avatar
          James2

          I watched the rollout of the 787 on streaming video and it was clear that Mulally was not there. He left Boeing in 2006, well before any substantial design work could be done on the 787.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Serious question on Boeing’s 787 to those in the aircraft biz, so given the model’s failings is Boeing still just selling 767 to customers who need a medium sized aircraft?

          • 0 avatar
            aristurtle

            They’re selling them 787s. The battery thing was resolved back in April. At this point the plane doesn’t have any more problems than any other late-model airliner.

            Some risk-averse customers (like UPS) are still buying 767s. Boeing doesn’t care as long as your checks clear.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Looks like we have some fan fiction here in the comments today.

      “So Mulally leaves Boeing, where the 787 Screamliner – conceived and developed under his watch leaves behind a record of program delays, electrical fires, and groundings.”

      That view simply doesn’t line up with reality. 787 development began while he was still there and then after he left, things started to go wrong, particularly in starting manufacturing, which he had very little to do with. BCA made several major leadership changes over several years trying to “right the ship” and things just kept getting worse. That incompetence was all BCA and had nothing to do with Mulally.

      “Mullaly signed off on a sham unveiling of the first ‘flight ready’ 787 on July 8, 2007.”

      Wrong. Mulally left Boeing in 2006, so your assertion is total bunk. AlternateReality indeed.

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    ‘Short’ list – Mulally, Elop, Bates, and Nadella. Also multiple internal canidates, and per the article;

    “The names of other candidates could not be learned, but the search committee is interviewing executives from a wide range of sectors, including life sciences and consumer, the sources said.”

    Did I just miss the part in the article where “5” candidates came from? The headline says ‘about’ 5, and then contradicts itself…

    I would still be amazed if they handed the reins to someone who wasn’t more familiar with the tech sector (and my money is on Elop – they really want a bigger slice of the mobile device pie.)

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      With all the mobile devices entering the market, MSFT’s slice is eroding.

      For those who don’t know, Win8 is a flop. In this segment that Apple brought into our lives, Samsung has passed Apple in the areas that really make the money for them, like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the multi-tasking Galaxy 10.1 Tablet.

      By comparison, the latest iPhone and iPad Air seem archaic and like a legacy system, old and dated, lacking behind in capability.

      Were MSFT to get Mullaly as their leader, I think it would be an enormous shot in the arm for MSFT and that entire industry.

      But Ford should be afraid, very afraid, of life after Mulally leaves Ford. Mulally may not be ‘magical’, but I’d rather have him on my team than the team of the competitors.

      • 0 avatar
        Vega

        “By comparison, the latest iPhone and iPad Air seem archaic and like a legacy system, old and dated, lacking behind in capability.”

        Don’t start that here, please.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Sorry, it was meant to illustrate that the emergence of new tech often goes hand in hand with new strategies, set forth by unconventional leaders who think “outside the box”.

          Clearly, Mulally, possesses some uniquely portable management skills that can move from industry to industry.

        • 0 avatar
          aristurtle

          Fanboy arguments aside, Microsoft’s slice of the mobile market isn’t “eroding”, it’s dead. They had a huge chunk of the market back in the Windows Mobile 6 days, and then they missed a step and all of a sudden they’re a rounding error. That market moves a lot faster than the auto market (or commercial aircraft for that matter).

          Android and iOS have the market carved up pretty well between the two of them and whoever ends up running the place has their work cut out for them.

          I’m pretty sure it’ll be Elop, to repay him for the trojan-horse trick he pulled with Nokia, but what do I know?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Yep, whoever ends up running the place has their work cut out for them.

            You might be right about Elop and he is a lot closer to the action already. But that could also hinder his objectivity. I honestly don’t know how this thing will unwind down to the final selection. But I’m interested on two levels.

            I don’t know what Ford can do to keep Mulally because the old axiom of “3-5 then up” still applies for most people in key places.

            Mulally is already at the top of his game at Ford, so a new and different challenge will be in the works for him, IF he decides to keep working.

            People at his level don’t do it for the money. They do it for the challenge. The money is commensurate with their established track record and more than ensures a golden parachute for him.

            In any case, I hope that we, the people, who buy these fabulous new products now and into the future will enjoy even better options. I’ve got Win8 on a laptop and it is not MSFT’s best effort.

            My biggest concern at the moment is, iPad Air or Galaxy 10.1 Tablet? When it came to new phones the Galaxy S4 readily won the battle and my 16-yo inherited her grandmother’s iPhone. Now she wants an iPad Air to utilize the wi-fi capability of her grandmother’s iPhone.

            They had the iPad Air at Sam’s Club. Personally, I prefer the Galaxy 10.1 with its multi-tasking capability but Apple has the better selection of Apps.

            Ultimately, either needs to help my 16-yo through HS.

      • 0 avatar
        azmtbkr81

        Microsoft makes heaps of money on business software and licensing and shows no sign of slowing down. Microsoft isn’t at all the sick old man of the technology world that most people seem to think it is.

        Microsoft’s consumer product division represent just a fraction of their revenue which is why it really can’t be compared to consumer-only companies like Apple or Samsung.

        In many ways Microsoft is more similar to Boeing than it is Apple. Since so many of its businesses customers lock into a technology platform for years Microsoft isn’t under constant pressure to release a shiny i-Device of the season to lure fickle consumers and stay relevant.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Yet, Surface and Windows 8 commercials abound, both of which are ultimately consumer product prattle. The business world tires of MSFT if a legitimate competitor emerges (i.e. Oracle enter the MS product sphere outside of databases) things could change very quickly.

          • 0 avatar
            ellomdian

            “The business world tires of MSFT”

            My dad and I used to talk about this, back in the IE6 launch days. It’s popular to talk about “The Business/Enterprise/Professional World” and their opinion on enterprise partners, but the existing install base and atrophy by inertia means it is all so much hot air.

            If anything, the ‘business world’ is more enamored with MS and their SAAS movement than ever before – being able to rid yourself of a depreciating asset, and write off an expense as a monthly cost (instead of having to cost it out over multiple years) has most Accountants I work with more excited than a new Tax Code.

            It’s easy to poke fun at the Surface and Win8 ads. Just like it was easy to laugh at MS’s first-gen XBox marketing. MS very much wants to be in your living room, in your car, in your pocket, and with you at work. It’s foolhardy to compare MS and Apple (or even talk about Android marketshare, since MS made $2bn last year from royalties on that ‘competing’ platform) – when you talk about MS, you really need to look at IBM and wonder what would happen if Big Blue still cared about the consumer space…

        • 0 avatar
          LeeK

          Exactly — their server software business is very, very strong and a cash cow for the company. Office (Excel, PowerPoint, Word) is a the defacto standard of the world’s business productivity. Outlook is also the way the corporate world works, despite the contention that e-mail is so 20th Century. Microsoft certainly doesn’t have one foot in the grave as we see from the forum postings.

          They do have a very real issue in missing the mobile device OS boat, and the decline of client machines in general (desktops, laptops) is certainly worrisome. Steve Balmer is not a dumb man — he’s most worried about the Google monster and the new CEO will need to as well. Can Mulally be that person? Perhaps. Guys at his level love the challenge.

  • avatar
    areader

    If his ego is so out of control that he crawls into the Microsoft hairball, he’ll get what he deserves. MS is a disaster and has been a melting ice cube since way before Gates ran from it. Balmer has made Gates look good, but Gates himself has said things “were almost remedial” when he left. Microsoft exists strictly because top management at IBM was too clueless to realize the future that microchips would bring. IBM was well along in killing off all competition in the computing field and would be what IBM, Intel and Microsoft combined are today if they had designed a proprietary chip and operating system instead of buying off the shelf crap from Intel and Microsoft. This enormous failure of management judgement on the part of IBM meant that the likes of Compaq, Dell, Gateway and others could also buy the same chip and OS from Intel and MS and sell PCs just as good as IBM’s and eventually commoditize the business and cause IBM to bail.

    IBM couldn’t be bothered to develop their own operating system for the PC. They went to MS, but MS had nothing to sell. Eventually MS bought what would become DOS from Tim Patterson for $50k. Gates’ old man was a lawyer and somebody came up with the brilliant idea of forcing the PC makers, other than IBM, to pay a license for MSDOS to MS on a ‘per PC sold’ basis whether MSDOS was installed or some other OS like Unix for example. This had the effect of making MSDOS free so eventually killed Unix, etc.

    MS struggled for years to get some version of Windows running that was at all usable. Where is MS in the mobile market? Nowhere. Google “doj microsoft findings of fact” to see how MS broke the law over a period of years to build the house of cards they have today. Other than being handed a winning hand by IBM and using lawless behavior to ride that gift, we would have never heard of Microsoft.

    For a little more about the ‘character’ of Gates, google “Paul Allen: Gates, Ballmer tried to rip me off”.

    I’ve read recently that Gates intends to work closely with Balmer’s successor. Should be interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with most of this. It’s been a long time but IIRC, MSFT and IBM were jointly developing OS/2 and MSFT dropped out and later pursued their own solution eventually releasing Win95.

      IMO, this was the death knell for OS/2:

      At the launch of OS/2 Warp in 1994, Patrick Stewart was to be the Master of Ceremonies; however Kate Mulgrew[26] of the then-upcoming series Star Trek: Voyager was substituted at the last minute.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OS/2

      The Picard was angry with them, indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      “If his ego is so out of control that he crawls into the Microsoft hairball, he’ll get what he deserves.”

      Yes, MS is a major mess, but people had really bad things to say about pre-Mulally Ford management too. MS needs a change agent and Mulally has a track record of success busting up entrenched bureaucracies.

      Mulally kisses cars, says “golly” a lot and wears sweater vests, but that is all a sophisticated way of distracting people from the fact that he is a massive iron fist. It’s all smiles and pats on the back until its obvious you can’t get the job done, despite being given help, support and coaching or just don’t care.

      Microsoft is full of really competent people being held back by a massively dysfunctional organization. I’d love to see Mulally play corporate whack-a-mole in Redmond.

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      One has to remember that IBM management had a Justice Department anti-trust case against them at the time the Personal Computer was introduced in 1983. The thinking was that if the PC was allowed to continue vertically integrated like Apple did and does (hardware, CPU, and software), they would have surely been broken up into small companies like the DOJ did to AT&T.

      Where IBM blew it was the development of OS/2 (which Microsoft wrote 70% of). Allowing Microsoft to break from the alliance and go alone with Windows 3.1 was the bold move that Microsoft needed to stop “riding the Bear” and led to their phenomenal success of the 90s. IBM lost that potential PC market and never recovered, selling the entire PC unit to Lenovo in 2005.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Windows 8.1 – MyFordTouch – it’s a match made in Hell. errr Heaven I mean, Heaven.

  • avatar
    mjz

    I received a letter today. I have been put on the Short Hairs List to Head Microsoft. That’s good, right?


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • AoLetsGo: Hmmmmmm 1up USA is the best bicycle rack Hammaka Hammock Hitch Stand is the fun choice The 99% solution...
  • Art Vandelay: Big deal. There is a used dealer near me that could probably claim to be number one in reconditioned...
  • Art Vandelay: I was the Paseo hater, but I’d daily this, with a stick of course. That thing screams 90s. I want...
  • Arthur Dailey: In the GTA I see at least half a dozen everyday. And the numbers are growing. However as we know,...
  • Arthur Dailey: True. Henry Ford was a despicable, racist, fascist sympathizer, who failed in nearly every endeavour...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States