AllThingsD is reporting that current Ford CEO Alan Mulally has jumped to the top of the list of prospective replacements for current head of Microsoft Steve Ballmer, who announced last month that he would leave the company within 12 months, following a search for his successor.
The news comes as a bit of a shock, with many predicting a long-time Microsoft employee and current Nokia CEO Stephen Elop would get the job. Mulally, however, has turn–around experience thanks to his time at Ford, a skill which may be required for whomever takes the help at the once-dominant tech giant.
Earlier this month, following reports that Microsoft’s board was pushing for Mulally to take over as CEO, he denied any interest in the job, stating, “I continue to be focused on serving Ford.” However, it sounds like the Ford CEO may have come around on the idea over the past few weeks. AllThingsD’s co-executive editor Kara Swisher reports that formal contract negotiations have yet to begin, but serious discussions are taking place and Mulally has become “more amenable to the idea.”
Swisher also notes that Microsoft is eyeing former Microsoft executives including Tony Bates, who previously served as CEO of Skype, and Paul Maritz, the current CEO of Pivotal. Elop is still reportedly under consideration, but no longer leads the list of of possible Ballmer replacements.