This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

No 'Cookie Monster' for Microsoft

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- After Tuesday's market close, Ford (F - Get Report) CEO Alan Mulally announced that, despite the rumors, he would not be jumping ship to become the next Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) CEO.

Mulally would always have been an out-of-the-box choice for Microsoft. But there is a precedent for it: the "Cookie Monster."

That was the derisive nickname given Lou Gerstner when IBM (IBM) hired him from cookie-maker RJR Nabisco 20 years ago, in April 1993. He arrived as a true outsider at a very insider-centered company. Everyone stopped laughing when he stabilized the company, giving it a new mission in software and services. Eventually he became a business legend.

Right after incumbent Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced his retirement plans, one analyst even threw Gerstner's name into the hat. He's still just 71. Mulally is 68.

Whether Microsoft today needs the kind of radical rethink IBM had under Gerstner remains an open question. It now seems unlikely to get it.

The current names reportedly on the Microsoft shortlist are all inside-outsiders. They're at Microsoft now, but they have experience outside it as well. Stephen Elop ran Nokia (NOK). Tony Bates came from Cisco (CSCO) and once ran Skype (now owned by Microsoft). Kevin Turner worked at Wal-Mart (WMT). Satya Nadella worked at Sun (now Oracle (ORCL)).

Except for Turner, who is currently Microsoft's Chief Operating Officer, the other men are division heads. Nadella runs Microsoft's cloud operations. Bates comes from communications. Elop runs mobile.

A Web site called NextMicrosoftCEO has been running a poll on who ordinary people think should get the job. The leading candidate, by far, is co-founder Bill Gates.

More important than the who is the what. Ballmer has set out a clear strategy for Microsoft, based on using Windows as a unified operating system for cloud, desktops and gadgets. This had been the Linux open-source strategy against Microsoft. Even if a new CEO wanted to chart a different course, it would take time to turn Microsoft's large organization in that direction.

Maybe giving Turner the job for a time -- time enough to see if Ballmer's strategy has a prayer of working -- is the right move to make. At the same time, the company could look for both a new vision and a visionary.

Meanwhile, what of Mulally? He looks set to finish his career at Ford, where the list of problems is growing.

1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
F $13.43 0.00%
MSFT $49.78 0.00%
AAPL $94.68 -0.53%
FB $117.43 0.00%
GOOG $692.36 0.00%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,750.91 -140.25 -0.78%
S&P 500 2,063.37 -18.06 -0.87%
NASDAQ 4,763.2240 -54.37 -1.13%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs