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更新时间:2014-2-7 11:31:38 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

Inside the Microsoft CEO Search: How Satya Nadella Was Chosen

The search for a new Microsoft Corp. leader was taking its toll.

It had been five months since Steve Ballmer announced he was stepping down as chief executive, and more than a year since the company's board had directed faster change at the once dominant technology giant.

Relations between Mr. Ballmer and co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates, as is their habit after decades of friendship, waxed and waned through the process and at times came under strain, people familiar with the men's relationship said. At times directors disagreed with actions of their fellow board members, or bristled at the media scrutiny of their search process, said other people familiar with the matter.

Directors early on had identified more than 100 potential CEO candidates from a swath of industries, and later drilled down on a narrower pool of candidates. Both outsiders and insiders were on the list, as the board weighed the pros and cons of bringing in an outsider to shake things up, or an insider with deep understanding of Microsoft's complex business and culture.

Some were rejected out of hand. Others, such as Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Alan Mulally, soured on the Microsoft job or took themselves from consideration by taking new jobs elsewhere or staying in the comfortable posts where they were. Mr. Mulally and other some executives who spoke to Microsoft directors about the CEO post were concerned about awkward boardroom dynamics with the possibility of second-guessing from Messrs. Ballmer and Gates, directors who had each held the CEO post, said people familiar with the matter.

Finally, on a cold January day in the offices of a New York law firm, directors settled on 22-year Microsoft veteran Satya Nadella to be the company's third chief executive. But the board decided on much more than Mr. Nadella.

What emerged on Jan. 19 was a series of moves that the directors believed would deliver a set of skills that no one individual could provide: Effective immediately, Mr. Gates, would step down as chairman of the board but spend up to a third of his time enmeshed at the company, coaching and counseling Mr. Nadella or hashing out product ideas with employees. Longtime technology executive John W. Thompson, a board member who led the CEO search, would step up to the chairman post. And Mr. Ballmer, after 14 years as CEO, would pack up his office, though retain a board seat.

Some Microsoft employees and executives are eager to see how well the new quartet, particularly Messrs. Gates and Nadella, will get along. 'Satya has enough self-awareness about Gates' brilliance that he may not worry about being overshadowed,' said one employee.

The pressure on Mr. Ballmer by board members began as early as a January 2013 directors meeting in which he was urged to move faster to refashion Microsoft, whose stock price was listless as the company missed opportunity after opportunity in new technology markets. In August, years ahead of schedule, Mr. Ballmer announced he would retire within a year.

Mr. Thompson started meeting privately in the fall with executives the board or executive recruiters had considered promising fits. After the early pool of 100 potential candidates from a swath of industries, it later drilled down on a narrower pool of candidates.

By a board session on the weekend of Dec. 14, some board members were exhausted from the months of work, and were concerned that the process had dragged on, said a person familiar with the matter. They left the meeting, at a hotel less than 8 miles from Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters, without a pick. The board had more potential CEO candidates with whom they wanted to meet, and were frustrated that research wasn't ready on at least one new prospect, said people familiar with the situation.

As the directors considered possible executives, they launched into a debate on governance of the $300 billion company. The notion of an 'executive chairman' was born at this meeting, as the board debated the different scenarios that might be needed to run Microsoft depending on which candidate was selected.

The directors weren't the only ones who were disappointed. Days later, Microsoft posted a blog post from Mr. Thompson, a 64-year-old former executive of Symantec Corp. and International Business Machines Corp., who said the board didn't expect to name a new chief until early 2014. Wall Street analysts and some Microsoft watchers said the announcement meant Microsoft couldn't attract an appealing CEO after years of dwindling relevance.

Microsoft needed an innovation kick start, which could best be achieved by a bright mind outsider who would come in with a fresh eye. But the 100,000-person company had a foothold in nearly every part of the tech business, and directors knew a seasoned and steady manager would be needed to wrangle the sprawl, said people familiar with the matter.

Early on, directors realized there was no single person who embodied all the attributes they wanted, these people said. The choice would have to be a compromise. The weaknesses of the imperfect CEO would have to be balanced with strengths of other officials inside of Microsoft, said the people familiar with the process.

Directors had spoken to Mr. Nadella from the earliest stages of the CEO hunt. The 46-year-old executive, who counts cricket among his hobbies and paraphrased Oscar Wilde in his first CEO memo, emerged as the leading internal contender for the job.

The board met Jan. 19, according to people familiar with the matter, and holed up for close to six hours in the Midtown Manhattan offices of a law firm to consider four remaining internal and external candidates, one of these people said.

Mr. Gates had said publicly in November that the next Microsoft CEO had to be comfortable leading a company stacked with technical people. The board agreed, and emerged with an agreement to start CEO contract negotiations with Mr. Nadella, said the people familiar with the matter.

As the directors, who had also wanted a consumer focus in a new CEO, appeared ready to select Mr. Nadella, they noted that while the bulk of his experience was in the company's enterprise business, he had overseen R&D for the search-engine Bing, a consumer business. They emerged with an agreement to start CEO contract negotiations with Mr. Nadella, said the people familiar with the matter.

It isn't clear who originated the idea of Mr. Gates taking on a part-time role as technical adviser to the CEO. People familiar with the matter said the possibility of such a role as a mentor and adviser had been floated for months. Some executives who discussed the Microsoft CEO job weren't eager to have second-guessing from Mr. Gates or from Mr. Ballmer, who planned to keep his Microsoft board seat.

Mr. Gates and Mr. Nadella both wanted the Microsoft founder to be the new CEO's technology adviser while remaining a board member, said people familiar with the matter. Board members felt Mr. Gates' involvement was critical due to 'Bill's iconic industry presence,' a person close to the situation said. 'The combination of skills is something the board (wanted).'

The work grated on Mr. Thompson. Days after the board settled on Mr. Nadella as CEO, around Jan. 23, Mr. Thompson and his wife traveled to a resort outside of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Mr. Thompson said he didn't anticipate leading the Microsoft CEO search would be a full-time job, and Mr. Thompson's wife complained how much time her husband was spending on the phone, according to people familiar with Mr. Thompson's conversations.

Within a week, Mr. Nadella was closing in on his employment agreement. Mr. Ballmer took time out to watch the Seattle Seahawks, coached by his neighbor and friend Pete Carroll, win the Super Bowl on the same day the board approved the new roles for Mr. Nadella and Mr. Gates. Paul Allen, Microsoft's co-founder, accepted the Lombardi Trophy as the owner of the Seahawks. Afterward, he hosted a party that lasted well into the night featuring Seattle-area hip hop artists Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

On Monday, Mr. Ballmer finished moving out of his office in Building 34, the Microsoft campus home to many senior executives. Mr. Ballmer had only a few brief moments of emotion, but no tears. He was leaving a company where he'd worked since 1980, when Mr. Gates convinced him to quit graduate school to join Microsoft.

Mr. Ballmer 'mostly stayed strong and positive,' said one person familiar with the situation, but Mr. Ballmer, remains a presence in addition to his board seat. The billionaire will become Microsoft's largest individual shareholder next quarter if Mr. Gates continues selling his shares for his philanthropic activities.

As of Tuesday evening, Mr. Nadella's belongings were ready for the move into his new corner office.

微软(Microsoft Co.)寻找新领袖之路十分艰难。

自首席执行长(CEO)鲍尔默(Steve Ballmer)宣布离职计划以来已有五个月时间,而自公司董事会开始引导这个科技巨头加快调整步伐以来也有一年多时间了。

知情人士说,有数十年交情的鲍尔默和联席创始人兼董事长比尔·盖茨(Bill Gates)之间的关系和习惯在这期间起起伏伏,有时会变得十分紧张。另外一些知情人说,董事会内部时常产生分歧,或者对媒体的打探感到不满。


一些候选者很快被否决。而包括福特汽车公司(Ford Motor Co.) CEO穆拉利(Alan Mulally)在内的候选者要么对这份工作不感兴趣,要么接受了其他公司的新职位,或者不愿离开尚且满意的现有职位。知情人士说,穆拉利和其他一些高管与微软董事就CEO职位有过交谈,他们对微软董事会的尴尬处境存在疑虑,担心鲍尔默和盖茨这两位过去担任过CEO的董事可能会进行事后批评。

最终,在1月份寒冷的一天,在纽约一家律师事务所的办公室内,微软董事们确定任命已在微软效力22年的老将纳德拉(Satya Nadella)担任第三任CEO。但董事会不止做出了这一个决定。

1月19日微软采取了一系列举措,董事会认为这些举措将带来任何单一个人都不具备的能力组合:盖茨将从董事长职位卸任,但将贡献三分之一的时间来充当纳德拉的指导和顾问,或与员工讨论产品创意。科技高管汤普森(John W. Thompson)将升任董事长,他是董事会成员,领导了这次寻找CEO的工作。在担任CEO长达14年之后,鲍尔默将卸任,但将留在董事会。






感到失望的不只董事们。几天后,微软发布了一篇来自汤普森的博客,他说,董事会预计2014年初以前不会选出新CEO。64岁的汤普森曾在赛门铁克(Symantec Corp.)和国际商业机器公司(International Business Machines)担任过高管。华尔街分析师和一些观察微软的人士说,这则声明意味着,微软在多年来影响力日益下降之后已无法吸引到一位出色的CEO。



从物色CEO之初起,董事们便同纳德拉进行过谈话。这位现年46岁的高管逐渐成为微软内部CEO的主要竞争者之一。纳德拉的爱好之一是打板球,他在自己的第一封CEO备忘录中中曾套用奥斯卡·王尔德(Oscar Wilde)的名言。






不过,寻找CEO的过程令汤普森精疲力尽。在董事会决定让纳德拉担任CEO的几天后,大约是在1月23日,汤普森便偕同妻子前往墨西哥卡波 卢卡斯旅游。知情人士称,汤普森曾表示,他没有料到领导物色CEO人选是份全职工作,汤普森的妻子也抱怨丈夫打电话花了许多时间。

纳德拉在一周之内基本上完成了雇佣合约。鲍尔默则花时间外出观看西雅图海鹰队(Seattle Seahawks)夺冠超级碗(Super Bowl),同行的是其邻居兼朋友卡罗尔(Pete Carroll)。而微软联合创始人保罗·艾伦(Paul Allen)正是海鹰队的拥有者。也是在同一天,董事会批准了纳德拉和盖茨的新职务。