Just the other day we spent some time speculating on who should become Microsoft's CEO. Not entirely seriously, we explored the possibility as part of that speculation that IBMs Watson might prove to be the right choice. One thing Watson has going in its favor is that it has never worked to divest itself of any mobile devices business—and let's face it, Steve Ballmer made it rather clear in developing his recent re-org that Microsoft is now a mobile and devices company going forward.
So it is quite interesting that the news has now emerged that Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg is now in the running and on the short list to become Microsoft's next chief. One thing in Vestberg's favor is that he is relatively young at 48, so he could hypothetically have a long enough tenure at Microsoft to truly make a difference. He could pull off the things we noted in our earlier article as necessary to accomplish as Microsoft's CEO.
Ballmer and Bill Gates together own about 8 percent of the stock, and through their presence on the board might prove to be hindrances to having a mostly unfettered CEO. It is no doubt true that a number of potential candidates may have sidestepped the opportunity at Microsoft for this reason. The real issue here is that Gates and Ballmer would look to keep Microsoft "old school" no matter how they might cloak this with reassuring words of wanting to look to the future.
Interestingly Vestberg, who has been Ericsson's CEO since 2010 (prior to that he was the company's CFO for three years and has been with Ericsson since 1988), has enjoyed seeing a 19 percent rise in Ericsson's share price over that time, and the company has increased revenues 206 billion kronor ($32 billion) in 2009 to roughly 225 billion kronor in 2013. Further, he ran the show involving Ericsson acquiring Microsoft’s Mediaroom unit, which makes software used by phone companies to deliver TV services via broadband networks. If only Microsoft needed to become a telecom giant!
Microsoft of course will see its own revenues rise through its ancient revenue streams, and no doubt Ballmer's heart would be warmed by Vestnerg's proven ability to keep this moving forward. But, but, but…
image via capitalfm.co.ke
As CEO Vestberg other claim to fame is that he oversaw the complete sell-off of its Sony-Ericsson handset joint venture to Sony, and invested to increase sales of services such as running networks for phone companies that don’t want to do it themselves. Yes - he got rid of the "devices and mobility" piece of the company! That doesn't quite sit well with us. Further, he has worked in almost every part of the company…except for research and development. Forgive us if this suggests he will lack the powerful devices and mobility vision Microsoft needs to move ahead.
He’s young yes, and no doubt brings a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to his Ericsson CEO role. But he sounds far too "perfect" as a Gates and Ballmer CEO - that alone should be enough warning to keep looking we think.
We’ll be keeping an eye on further developments here - if Ericsson doesn't suddenly give Vestberg a new contract with all sorts of new perks things might begin to get very interesting.
TechZone360 Senior Editor
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