3 people who can lead Microsoft after Steve Ballmer

Posted by Emory Kale
Steve Ballmer essentially announced he is leaving Microsoft and the search for a new CEO has begun in earnest. Unfortunately, Wall Street may be the driving force behind who gets to run the company, but if innovation, raising morale, and making Microsoft feared were criteria, there are 3 people we believe can make it happen.
Why not look at what made Microsoft great in the first place: the balance of three distinct personalities: Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and Paul Allen. Just like Lennon and McCartney were never quite as brilliant as they were together, Microsoft may never regain its brilliance without having more than one mind running the show.
Who will replace Ballmer at Microsoft
It was obvious from the time that Bill Gates pulled out from day to day duties that Ballmer had no one to challenge him fully, and no single person became a go to partner in the strategic process. Google has Page, Brin, and still, Eric Schmidt.
So, we suggest John W Thompson and Omid Kordestani from outside of the company, and Qi Lu would be promoted from within. Thompson is a guy that Wall Street should embrace and love. He has political chops and he can bring some sense of order to a shaky workforce. Thompson also faced off against Microsoft at Symantec and knows how it feels from the other side, even knowing the company's weaknesses. This Thompson quote sets him as a great guy to helm the ship:
"While there have been terrific advances in the state of technology around heuristics, behavior blocking, and things like that, technology is only a part of the approach to solving the problem with the more important aspect involving putting the right process in place."
John W Thompson
Kordestani would give voice to the business side and is perfectly adept at balancing the consumer and enterprise in any strategic situation. Kordestani quote his kid's second grade teacher at a commencement speech he gave at San Jose State University in 2009, "In life you make all the small decisions with your head and the big decisions with your heart." He gets the balance between the two.
Omid Kordestani
Lu is a the quintessential Microsoft CTO. He has the intellect and he is also a little removed from the OS group that he can bring objectivity to the future direction of the company. But he also has his Captain Ahab thing going against the white whale of Google. As he said to the New York Times in 2009:
Mr. Lu, who is 47, left Yahoo 14 months ago, but now finds himself once again leading the charge against Google. This time, he is backed by a patron that vows to spend even more than Yahoo did on the mission: Microsoft.
“It’s an unfinished mission that I would like to work on,” he said.
You want a guy who has that perseverance and really wants to beat Google. Oh, yeah, baby!
Qi Lu
John W Thompson Corporate Bio:
John W. Thompson was named CEO of Virtual Instruments in April of 2010. He has been an investor and member of the Virtual Instruments Board of Directors since 2009.
Prior to joining Virtual Instruments, John was chairman of the board and CEO of Symantec Corporation, the leader in internet security, from April 1999 to April 2009. During his 10-year tenure as CEO of Symantec, Thompson transformed the company into a leader in security, storage and systems management solutions, delivering world class products to a global customer base, from individual consumers to many of the world’s largest enterprises. He helped grow revenues from $600M to over $6B in ten years. He continued to serve as chairman of the board until October 2011. John also served in a number of senior leadership roles at IBM Corporation, including general manager of IBM Americas, prior to assuming the CEO role at Symantec.
Thompson has served on the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee (NIAC), making recommendations regarding the security of nation’s critical infrastructure, and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to investigate the cause of the 2008 financial collapse and to make recommendations to Congress on steps to avoid or mitigate the impact of a reoccurrence. He is an active investor in early-stage companies and currently serves on the board of directors of Liquid Robotics, the world’s first wave-powered autonomous platform, DOMO, an emerging platform for business intelligence, and is an advisor to PernixData, a Flash Virtualization Platform (FVP) provider. John also serves on the board of Microsoft, the world's largest software company, and is a trustee for Wetlands America Trust.
He has also served on the boards of NIPSCO (Northern Indiana Public Service Company), Fortune Brands, Seagate Technologies, and UPS.
Thompson has been recognized by a number of industry and business associations for his leadership and public service. In 2012, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group recognized him with the Spirit of Silicon Valley Lifetime Achievement award, the Silicon Valley Education Foundation named him Pioneer Business Leader in 2010 and in 2008 Junior Achievement recognized him as a Business Hall of Fame Laureate. Thompson was also awarded the David Packard Medal of Achievement from TechAmerica Foundation for his contributions to the high-tech industry.
Thompson completed his undergraduate studies at Florida A&M and holds a Master’s degree in Management from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. In 2008, he received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business.
Omid Kordestani's Vodafone Board bio:
Omid Kordestani, aged 49, joined the Vodafone Board in March 2013. He joined Google in 1999 as the company’s 11th employee. Over the next 10 years, he led Google's business operations from its inception to a business generating over $20bn in revenues with over 12,000 employees. After holding a number of senior executive positions at Google, he transitioned from his operational role and is now a Senior Advisor to the Office of CEO/Founders at Google.
Omid’s career spans product management, sales, business development and general management roles. From 1995-1999, he was at Netscape Communications. As Vice President of Business Development, he grew Netscape's website revenue from an annual run-rate of $88 million to more than $200 million within 18 months. Omid started his career in Silicon Valley as a Product Marketing Manager at HP, followed by senior roles at consumer electronic innovators GO Corporation (smartphone operating system) and 3DO (gaming platform).
Omid is currently also pursuing his passion in technology, science, medicine and education through investments and advisory positions. He graduated in electrical engineering from San Jose University and has a MBA from Stanford Business School, where he served on the Graduate School of Business Advisory Board.
Qi Lu's official Microsoft bio:
As executive vice president of Microsoft's Applications and Services Group, Dr. Qi Lu leads Microsoft’s business across productivity, communications, search and other information services. He sets the vision, strategy, and overall direction of the Applications and Services group, and is responsible for all of the research and development teams across Microsoft Office, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, Yammer, Lync, Skype, Bing, Bing Apps, MSN and the Advertising platforms and business group. The Apps and Services group will empower people and organizations around the world to 'Get More Done' with compelling and delightful experiences.
Until recently, Dr. Lu was the president of the Online Services Division, where he led the company's search, portal and online advertising efforts.
Prior to joining Microsoft, Dr. Lu spent 10 years as a Yahoo! senior executive. His roles included serving as the executive vice president of engineering for the company's Search and Advertising Technology Group where he oversaw the development of Yahoo!'s Web search and monetization platforms, and vice president of engineering responsible for the technology development of Yahoo!'s search, e-commerce and local listings of businesses and products.
Before joining Yahoo!, Dr. Lu worked as a research staff member at IBM's Almaden Research Center and Carnegie Mellon University, and was a faculty member at Fudan University in China. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from Fudan University and his Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Lu holds 20 U.S. patents.