Rumors of Ford CEO Alan Mulally boarding a jet and becoming the chief executive at Microsoft have been and are continuing to swirl in a rampant fashion. Just last week, notable investors Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link announced that they sold their positions in Ford partly based on the Microsoft rumors. Other reports have stated that Mulally, who has a home in Seattle — which also happens to be near Microsoft’s headquarters — has been kicking it with Microsoft executives on a regular basis even before talks of him assuming the CEO position began. Adding to the rumormill is Mulally’s refusal to flat-out deny that he will go to Microsoft, a circumstance that is fueled even further by Ford’s board of directors granting him permission to leave if he choses.
And since it’s quickly becoming the popular thing to do, we’re going to jump on in on the speculation bandwagon and propose a theory of our own as to the future of Mr. Mulally at The Blue Oval.
Our theory: Mulally isn’t going to leave.
1. He Is Happy At Ford
For starters, Mr. Mulally has indicated several times that he is happy at Ford Motor Company, and that he plans to stay through 2014. Of course, this particular aspect is subject to change — a factor that we’re not discounting. But happy is happy, and who knows if he will be happy at Microsoft?
2. He’s 68
The following is in no way meant in a derogative, agist, or otherwise discriminatory fashion. Rather, we mean it in the most direct and nonsense-free way imaginable: Alan is almost 70. He has been at two companies — Boeing and Ford — for his entire life, and has been greatly successful at both firms. Which brings us to this oft-overlooked and little-known fact.
3. He Already Tried Fixing Microsoft
That’s right — Alan has already tried fixing Microsoft. The problem with the technology giant isn’t one of immediacy, but Microsoft has fallen noticeably behind in the extremely profitable and fast-growing mobile and tablet space, a segment in which it was once one of the dominant forces. Product- and services-related issues aside, Microsoft has a culture problem — and it needs fixing.
Notably, Mulally, who is known for overhauling Ford’s vision, global product line, and culture, was instrumental in assisting current-but-speedily-departing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer plan for the reorganization that took place last summer. According to an interview with Ballmer by the Wall Street Journal’s Monica Langley, Mulally helped Ballmer plan the reorg in a Seattle-area Starbucks on Christmas Eve:
Mr. Ballmer brought a messenger bag, pulling out onto a table an array of phones and tablets from Microsoft and competitors. He asked Mr. Mulally how he turned around Ford. For four hours, he says, Mr. Mulally detailed how teamwork and simplifying the Ford brand helped him reposition it.
All three of these factors lead us to believe that Mr. Mulally will finish his illustrious career on a high note at Ford Motor Company and not defect to Microsoft. To that end, M$ has its own short-list of candidates outside of Mulally for the chief executive position, some of whom seem to be well-prepared to take over. These include former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and two internal candidates: Tony Bates, head of business development and Satya Nadella, executive vice president of Microsoft’s cloud division.
Let’s see how our prognosis plays out.