So what should the next CEO of Microsoft bring to the table?
Who should the next CEO of the world’s largest maker of software be?
What man, woman, or child would WANT to be the head of the hydra that is Microsoft?
(I am willing to do it for a negotiated sum and my own Red room)
Looking at some of the last few appearances by outgoing chief Steve Ballmer, my first requirement is that the next CEO actually like Microsoft. My biggest hope is whoever takes the reins at One Microsoft Way be sort of passionate about the company and its people. I also want them to be passionate about its possibilities. Without a grain of belief in this company to compete you get a CEO that will burn out in less than five and one that will have to become a permanent fireman during it.
The second requirement is the next CEO needs to be realistic about Microsoft. We who are Microsoft fans want the company to compete with Apple and Google. We want to see SurfaceBooks and All in Ones, but the company may ultimately be better off getting out of hardware or even the consumer space entirely. The guy or gal that succeeds Ballmer needs to be cleared eyed about what works and doesn’t and can access needed changes.
The third necessary trait is they need the vision thing (coupled with the deliver in a timely fashion thing). Microsoft has been said to have been in a “lost” decade. Or as I see a decade in which Microsoft perfectly predicted the future but failed to deliver it in a timely fashion (as directed by hindsight). We can argue on whether Microsoft was too early (Tablet PC/Windows Mobile) or late (Surface/Windows Phone), but the question facing the next CEO will be what’s next. Microsoft needs someone who can help it create the next scenario and more importantly help it reach it in a hurry.
Now outside of these basic traits we all have our pet projects we want to stay. I know many want to see the next CEO take Microsoft and move it squarely into the business space. I on the other hand would beseech the new CEO to keep Microsoft in the consumer space. My basic argument is Microsoft is already invested in the space with both Windows (since at least 1995), the Xbox, and even Office.
I understand software and services is steady, reliable money but Microsoft makes platforms and platforms are never easily divided into business-side and consumer-side. I do think realistically Microsoft should consider developing a subsidiary company based around its consumer side products. As much as I like the idea of Microsoft making hardware, a company created out of the Xbox, Surface, and soon Nokia groups could make sense. The only caveat I would put on it is stays Microsoft’s OEM.
And that is what I want to see in the next Head of Hydra Microsoft.