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Is Microsoft a sinking ship without a captain?

Nicole Goodkind
Nicole Goodkind
Daily Ticker

Microsoft (MSFT) is a ship without a captain. This summer longtime Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced he would be retiring within a year in a planned and smooth transition. Nearly six months later no new CEO has been announced and the most likely candidate for the job, Ford (F) CEO Alan Mulally, said that he’ll be staying put at the automaker.

"Alan made it perfectly clear that he wanted to end all speculation. He has no plans to do anything else other than continue serving Ford," Ford spokesperson Jay Cooney told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

Related: Microsoft Could Be Obsolete By 2017: Gartner Report

Mulally, who has been at Ford since 2006, is best known for turning around the failing automaker. He saved it from bankruptcy reorganizations and streamlined and increased the company’s profitability.

According to Yahoo Finance’s Jeff Macke, this may be a blessing in disguise.

“Mulally was an aged man, I don’t know why he would have wanted the job and I don’t know why people thought that just because he did well at Ford that he was going to fix Microsoft,” he says.

Related: Will Ford's solar-powered car be the future of autos? No! Here's why...

“Microsoft’s issue is vision right now," says The Daily Ticker's Henry Blodget. "You need a way to get from here back into the lead in technology and the idea of importing someone who just sort of worked in the airline industry and cars can’t come in with a vision about where tech is going and how to reposition a company so powerful and huge.”

The difficulty in finding a new captain for Microsoft may lie in how much leadership its old CEO still holds.

“[Steve Ballmer] is still a huge shareholder,” Blodget points out, and "there have been some reports that some CEO candidates are worried that Ballmer will be sitting on their shoulders, banging them and telling them what to do.”

Related: Why Microsoft Really Bought Nokia

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, "At least some external executives who discussed the CEO job with Microsoft directors have expressed concerns about being hamstrung if the two men [Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates] continue to serve on the board, according to people familiar with their thinking."

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