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May 31, 2005

The Next Leader of Microsoft

This New York Times article about Eric Rudder mentions him as a possible contender to succeed Steve Ballmer (and Bill Gates, effectively, since Ballmer and Gates are the same age) as CEO of Microsoft.

This was also mentioned by Microsophist, which had some comments posted to the effect that Rudder has some personality issues.

Personally I would be very surprised if the next CEO of Microsoft was not named Jeff Raikes. I can't see the company falling in line behind anyone else, at least not right after Bill/Steve. One problem is his age, I can't dig up his birthdate, but he graduated from Stanford in 1980, so let's say he's 47, just 2 years younger than them. Still I could see Steve sticking around about 5 more years until he is 55, then Jeff taking over for 10 more at which point he could be 62, and then the "next generation" of people who are in their 30s now would be in their early 50s and ready to take the reins. I know it would be bold and dramatic of Microsoft to appoint someone comparatively young as CEO, but I don't know if anyone at that age can accumulate the combined product, sales, and marketing experience you would want.

Of course this assumes that Raikes wants the job.

Posted by AdamBa at May 31, 2005 09:21 AM

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I'm not sure if the experience attributes you mention really matter. I'm certain the only qualities that really matter in a CEO and/or chairman are in being able to pick the right people for the other roles.

Posted by: at May 31, 2005 10:47 AM

Don't worry, Bill Gates is actively experimenting with brain scanners and is already producing working emulations of him brain. Unfortunatelly they all have an huge flaw - when turned on they immediately try to take over the world.

(if you didn't get this, then jokes are really dead)

Posted by: Ivan at June 1, 2005 05:33 PM

I would agree that Raikes is first choice too - have you noticed how in the past 6 years or so, Bill and Jeff have some uncanny resemblance? Or am I just imagining that????

I would also think that Allchin would be a heavy contender for one of the most senior spots.

Posted by: anonymous at June 2, 2005 02:23 AM

Raikes has long been identified as a "Bill Clone". This is from the book Gates, published in 1993, describing Raikes' hiring in 1981: "...the real ringer came along. With his sandy hair, blue eyes, glasses, and high cheekbones, Nebraska-born farm boy Jeff Raikes soon had the patented Gates mannerisms down pat. Pushing glasses up his nose, pursing his lips when making a point, even rocking impatiently in his chair, Raikes was quickly dubbed "Clone Number One' in Microsoft circles." So if looking the part is what counts, Raikes is definitely the front-runner (hey, it worked for the Pope).

Allchin already is in one of the most senior spots (Gates, Ballmer, Allchin, Raikes, and Kevin Johnson are probably the "top five" at Microsoft), but he is slightly older than Gates and Ballmer (he's 52), and he has suffered some bruises to his reputation over the years -- the battle between the Internetheads and the Windowsniks (even though Allchin was 100% right and probably saved the company) and of course the whole Longhorn experience, even though it will eventually ship.

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at June 2, 2005 09:04 AM

The kicker would be if Raikes ever drove a Lexus (bonus points for a blue one)

Posted by: anonymous at June 2, 2005 01:42 PM

Considering how the company has matured and the recent focus on CPE - I think Kevin Johnson is also a strong possibility.

Posted by: at June 22, 2005 10:49 PM