What does it take to become CEO of Microsoft

Many people mistakenly believe that every good subordinate who can manage large numbers of people in large projects can become good or great CEO.

Responsibilities of CEO of Microsoft and responsibilities of someone in charge of one of 5 business units within a company (a unit that was well-established long before his arrival, has its own moat and just needs to be properly maintained) are completely different.

SteveSi inside – an SDE. Software Development Engineer. A good, thorough one. Someone who’s gone through all career levels inside the company. Does he have what it takes to create new $1bln. businesses? Don’t know. Really just don’t know. Never had a chance to find out since he spent all his life and career inside the company (since 1989). But I do know that to replace CEO of Microsoft, one has to have (and has to offer) a lot more than just being able (a be great at it) to manage large projects with thousands of people. CEO must be able to lead the company into new areas and open/create new businesses.

Many folks may disagree with me on this last statement. I understand that. But SteveB has done just that. He didn’t do a lot of other things but he did manage to create new businesses that today can work in standalone mode and bring the company extra billions!

So when Board of Directors discusses (yet again) whether CEO must be changed (and they are the only ones who can do it, by the way), they may consider factors and criteria that we, regular people down below, don’t take into an account.

As of today (November, 13th – the first day when the markets could react to the news), watching the price of MSFT stock (down $1), market obviously disagrees with my opinion and thinks that SteveSi was worth $10bln for the company.

Updated with links to other posts/thoughts on the subject:


Steven had apparently lost recent battles to bring both Windows Phone and the Developer Division under his control.    I suspect that he saw those loses both as a roadblock to where he wanted to take Windows over the next few years, and a clear indication that his political power within Microsoft had peaked.  At the very point where he should have been able to ask for, and receive, almost anything as reward for his proven success he got slapped down.  And so he chose to leave.


While Gates — who is now chairman of Microsoft’s board –has had a longtime and very close relationship with Sinofsky, he supported the move by Ballmer to promote more integration of Microsoft’s other divisions and also involve other top executives more significantly than ever before in the planning and development of the next version of Windows.

This more collegial cross-division effort was different than the closely held, command-and-control and even secretive method for which Sinofsky had been well known throughout the company. In fact, numerous sources said, it was an anathema to him.

“There was Steve’s way or no other way,” said one exec, in a common sentiment about Sinofsky’s iron-handed rule of the flagship Windows business. “Now, in the new world we’re competing in, it’s about creating strong areas of integration among all our products.”

In this regard, Sinofsky was not known as someone who played well with others. While considered highly effective and “deeply brilliant” by most for being able to lasso Microsoft’s most important unit, he also had a longstanding reputation for being very difficult to work with.

====================== Русский =============================

Много людей ошибочно думают что каждый хороший подчиненный способный управлять определенным количеством людей в определенных проектах может стать хорошим CEO.

Задачи CEO и задачи в данном случае шефа Windows Engineering (i.e. человека отвечающего в конечном итоге за успех одного конкретного бизнеса – большого но одного который уже был сделан давно, задолго до его прибытия и который просто должен продолжать плыть в нужном направлении) очень и очень разные.

SteveSi в душе – SDE. Хороший, добротный, умный SDE. Прошедший через все карьерные уровни внутри компании. Есть ли в нем то что требуется чтобы создавать новый $1млрд. бизнесы – не знаю. Просто не знаю. Не было возможности проверить поскольку человек провел свою жизнь и карьеру внутри МС (с 1989 года). Но чтобы заменить CEO Майкрософта требуется гораздо больше чем способность (хотя и великолепная) руководить большими проектами с тысячами людей. СЕО должен вести компанию в новые области и открывать и создавать новые бизнесы!

Для многих это не является критерией успеха. Я это тоже понимаю. Но Балмер это сделал. Он многого НЕ сделал но он сумел таки создать дополнительные бизнесы которые могут сегодня самостоятельно принести компании миллиарды! Поэтому когда Совет Директоров (Board Of Directors) размышляет в очередной раз насчет замены CEO (а они – единственные кто могут его снять/назначить), они могут рассматривать факторы и критерии которые мы, простые люди, не берем в рассчет…

В данный момент (13 ноября – первый день когда рынок мог отреагировать на новости), смотря на цену МСФТ (вниз $1), рынок со мной не согласен и считает что  SteveSi стоил компании $10млрд.

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