Here is a very interesting coincidence. Yesterday two things happened. First things first - Amazon SVP Brian Valentine, who has been with Amazon for eight years but who was prior to that a long time high level Microsoft insider with very direct roots to both Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates, and who drive much of the engineering behind Windows prior to his departure, has unexpectedly left Amazon. This was announced yesterday.
Second, tech gadfly Kara Swisher at Re/code claims to have heard from insider sources that Microsoft has made its decision on who will take over as its next CEO. No, no one was naming any names - the speculation following the otherwise low content message mostly concerned itself with whether or not a Microsoft announcement was now imminent or whether the company would wait until the end of January to make its announcement of "whoever" it is Microsoft has selected (if indeed the company has really done so).
Might it be Valentine? Valentine's tenure at Microsoft dates back to the mid and late 80s. His first big project there was to drive Microsoft's token ring-based LAN Manager (now there is a blast from the past!) - what had back then been the Microsoft networking competitor to Novell. We knew Valentine back in those days and he was and no doubt remains a "super smart" tech- and business-aggressive guy.
Ancient history yes, but Valentine's connections with Microsoft obviously run long and deep. And he is a technical guy who also has significant business-related skills and expertise. Whether Valentine is someone who might be admired or not within today's Microsoft is an interesting question to which we have no actual answer but it’s a crucial question.
Can an Amazon SVP really rise to the numerous challenges that will face Microsoft's next CEO? Well, the obvious answer is no - it's not even remotely possible to think such a thing is possible. The interesting thing however is that Valentine is someone who we believe would very likely score highly on the "IBM Watson" test we set up for Microsoft's CEO contest last week.
OK, enough speculation. We'll surely know more tomorrow. Also of interest tomorrow will be whether or not we see any earnings-related evidence that Microsoft has moved forward on gaining traction with any of its mobile efforts. We expect to hear good things about the latest versions of its Surface tablets - which were sold out long before the holiday buying season got into full swing. That may be a proof point - or it may prove Microsoft screwed up its supply chain and did not get enough product into the sales channels in time to score really big sales.
More tomorrow on this when we deliver our Microsoft earnings call analysis.
TechZone360 Senior Editor
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