You see I thought that he (Alan Mulally) would be a good selection because Microsoft needs a great business person to run their business.
I spoke about his technology background, business background, marketing savvy and market confidence. All of that remains true but my mind changed for one fundamental reason.
Microsoft is currently a pretty sound business. In fact, they’re doing pretty well and making good numbers. As Mary Jo Foley pointed out in the preamble to her interview with Steve Ballmer, Mr. Ballmer has actually been a fantastic financial steward of Microsoft’s treasures. You can look at any financial graph showing the length of his tenure and you’ll see that it’s been a slow and steady upward ride.
Maybe too slow for some investors but hey, those dudes are never satisfied. Bottom line is, a business whiz is not necessarily what Microsoft needs right now. While the next CEO will need to be somebody who has a grasp on the numbers, business acumen will by necessity have to be a secondary skill.