Who’s to Blame for Microsoft’s `Noisy' CEO Search?

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Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) –- Cristjkolder Chairman Peter Crist discusses the challenges to finding Microsoft’s next CEO. He speaks with Erik Schatzker and Stephanie Ruhle on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Ceo search every day and nothing is happening.

What is the issue?

You have this insatiable appetite from the media -- do not be offended by this -- for the names of people on the list.

When a search like this was public, you get into a disadvantaged position because people's names are being put on the list.

People have to respond to enter queries about whether they are interested or not, whether they allow their names to be on the list are not.

Remember, these projects run six months on average and they are clearly trending to longer than six months.

We are in the five-month mark.

Yes, there has been a lot of chatter about this.

It has been a noisy search.

Probably has added to the process.

You are making news about a process.

Sooner or later they have to pick an insider or an outsider and that to me is where the news is.

I do not think it is the media's fall.

Shareholders want to know who the next ceo is going to be.

It is microsoft's fall.

Steve ballmer was the one who all the world i am going to be out of here in 12 months.

It is microsoft's fault.

Maybe it is bill gates or steve ballmer's fault.

It is certainly not the fault of the shareholders or for that matter the media who cover, who is it going to be?

They want to know who will replace steve ballmer.

In the meantime, he is a lame duck ceo.


Let's not lay fault on anyone.

Let's talk about process.

There is a question when you have a $200 billion market cap company that does not do succession appropriately -- ok, that is a question.

The issue is the search process.

That is not in question, i believe, but cause -- because you're talking about a multi- month enterprise that looks at qualified internal and external candidates.

In the end, the issue becomes how do you come to a successful conclusion, and you can make all the noisy you want about it, but this happens every day.

There are at least 40 or 50 ceo changes of publicly traded companies in me s&p 500, fortune 500 every year.

But peter -- dozens of companies change ceo's every year.

Big companies, important companies.

Why do they seem to be doing it better, more elegantly than microsoft ask?

You have to look at the bench first.

Then you have to look at the circumstances.

If you handicap the microsoft search, you have several variables.

You have an iconic person involved with the company.

The founder.

You have an activist involved with the company.

Candidates look at that.

You have an issue -- issues that are probably embedded in the direct embedded or is when you talk about the names that have been floated.

There are contracts, conflict issues to be involved in this.

If you think of the search is a bull's-eye, you may have to go outside the first or second concentric circles to find candidates who are qualified and interested.

When you talk about iconic persons, are you talking about bill gates or steve ballmer?


Microsoft says you will get to be under bill gates's wing for a year, he will show you the path.

Wouldn't that be an incentive?

I would like to meet the guy.

I would like to meet him, too.

I would like to play poker against him.

If i am a prospective ceo candidate, i'm more concerned with control of the enterprise.

So having looming big brother overhead is too much?

If you are going to replace bill gates, michael bell, warren buffett, i think any perspective candidate is more interested in the situation, the board, the enterprise, and the team than they are in the elephant in the room.

Not upper jordan statement.

But someone like that who can control the situation.

Would it be easier for microsoft to find the ceo if bill gates said, you know what?

I am going to step back and we will name an independent nonexecutive chairman who will not only supervise the search process, but give comfort to those who worry about reporting, effectively, to bill gates?

At some juncture during the process of the search, you have to ask the question.

I do not have an answer for that.

I'm not that close to the board.

When you think about this, there has to be a point when the board says, ok, we are five months into a search.

We are seeing certain outsiders.

We have assessed our one or two insiders.

We have a decision point as to whether we can continue the search.

Changing the dynamics might have an impact.

I do not see that as a practical outcome.

If i am in microsoft, in senior management, watching this gets played out and am not being tapped, is this a message i should leave the company?

At the beginning of a search like this, the message to the insiders is clear.

This will take time.

5, 6, seven months.

Do not be discouraged.

What is important is you are included in the process.

Insiders are the beneficiaries of a long search process.

The longer the search, the more it gets a chance to see the insiders in action and a chance to assess them against external candidates to come to a conclusion about whether they are right or not.

All right, insiders, we are saying there is still a change.

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.


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