aNewDomain.net commentary– Reuters, The Chicago Tribune and other news outlets report that Microsoft may be ready to announce the CEO that will replace Steve Ballmer. They quote Nomura analyst, Rick Sherlund, who worked with Microsoft in 1986 on its initial public offering. Sherlund suggested to his clients in a note on Wednesday that Ford’s Alan Mulally would “likely” be the new CEO by December. Reports also say that four other candidates round out that list.
Xbox and Bing
Sherlund also suggests that Microsoft will sell off its Bing and Xbox business units, which really makes me question the otherwise-sensible wisdom of the Mulally prediction. Tech companies usually have loss leaders and Bing and Xbox are excellent examples of products that keep the company buoyant. Xbox’s cool factor helps attract up-and-coming talent, otherwise steered towards Apple, Facebook and Google. Skilled geeks, gamers and such like to work for cool companies. So, unless you are looking to cash out on Microsoft’s current value for short-term gains and long-term brand destruction this prediction makes no sense to me.
Let’s think that scenario through — what would Microsoft have if it let Xbox go? What would fill the void and create interest for the average user in the area of tech toy competition? The Windows Phone? Surface? The next version of Windows or Office? Really? I can see the sea of yawns coming now.
I also find the search industry to be incredibly important and valuable. It would not make sense for Microsoft to let that whole market go to Google and Yahoo. Yahoo has seen a drastic increase of use since Marisa Meyer came on board, and before her the search engine was deemed lost and forgotten.
Additionally, Microsoft has done a great job of integrating Bing Search into its products, such as Office, and the built-in functionality has increased usage. Google took note of this tactic and is doing the same thing by integrating its own search into various products.
Google has moved into Microsoft Office’s territory with its gamut of web tools, trying to stake claim in lightly-charted waters. They even acquired Quickoffice in 2012. Meanwhile Sherlund’s prediction is that Microsoft should abandon search, which would give Google another opening for more market share. That works well for Google shareholders, but not Microsoft.
While my personal preference would be to bring back Stephen Elop, I do agree that Mulally would be an exciting replacement for Steve Ballmer. However, the concept that any future CEO should or would sell Xbox or Bing makes no sense to me. It would be as bad as getting rid of the Start Button and Menu in Windows 8 and never providing a fix.
For aNewDomain.net, I’m Alan Wallace.
Based in Seattle, Alan Wallace is a senior contributor and on our security team here at aNewDomain.net. He previously has worked as a London-based foreign correspondent for UPI. He also founded InterActive Agency, the first Internet-focused ad agency. Alan later joined Live365, where he served as a vice-president and oversaw its rise to the No. 1 Internet radio network spot. He has been a judge for the Codie Awards for nearly a decade. Got a question, comment or story idea for Alan? Email him at Alan@anewdomain.net, or contact him at +Alan Wallace.