Mini-Microsoft, an anonymous Microsoft employee, has tipped Steven Sinofsky as the next Microsoft CEO.
“Whodapunk“, the author of Mini-Microsoft, is a secret Microsoft employee who regularly blogs about internal changes at the software giant. The latest blog post focuses on Microsoft’s 2011 company meeting, due to take place on Friday. Reflecting on the year, whodapunk highlights Apple’s “soaring” success with its range of iOS devices. He admits that Apple is “blowing Microsoft away and cannibalizing our Windows powered device market.” Microsoft’s stock is “horribly flat” acceding to whodapunk and he highlights the calls for Ballmer to be replaced that have taken place over the year.
Despite the fears, “Microsoft has emerged with the talking points that the company is being re-imagined” says whodapunk after describing the positives with Windows Phone Mango and Windows 8 both on the horizon. “All I can say is that SteveB (Steve Balmer) should give SteveSi (Steven Sinofsky) the CEO Bacon Achievement award,” he says after Sinofsky completed excellent work on Windows 7 and 8. “SteveB had to be so happy to have Windows 8 revealed at BUILD right before the Financial Analysts Meeting,” he adds.
Whodapunk also highlights the reaction to Windows 8 in the blogosphere. Joe Wilcox described Steven Sinofsky as the “new Steve Jobs” in a blog post last week. “Some bloggers dared to pass the Steve Jobs torch to SteveSi. Wow. Didn’t see that coming,” says whodapunk. He then goes on to tip that Sinofsky is CEO material but that he wouldn’t necessarily work in a Steven Sinofsky CEO Microsoft world:
“(psst. Board. CEO ma-ter-ial. Uh-huh. There you go. Not that I’d probably work in a SteveSi CEO Microsoft, but ya could do a lot worse!)”
The suggestion that Sinofsky could succeed Ballmer has intensified amongst Microsoft watchers and employees since BUILD. Privately, a number of Microsoft employees I spoke to off-record at BUILD last week admitted that Sinofsky is a likely choice if Windows 8 succeeds. Some mirrored Mini-Microsoft’s concerns at a Sinofsky-led Microsoft but others spoke with admiration and respect for what he has achieved for Windows and Office. Microsoft lacks a visionary leader and Sinofsky appears to fill that role very well. Co-founder Bill Gates handed over the CEO position to Steve Ballmer in January 2000 and transitioned from full-time work at Microsoft to focus on his philanthropy in June, 2008. Gates’ departure came after his vision and belief that tablet computing would be mainstream by 2012 (see video). Gates was right but Ballmer has often misjudged competitor products, he laughed at the introduction of the iPhone and branded it “the most expensive phone in the world” (see video). The iPhone went on to redefine smartphones and triggered a battle for a space that Microsoft had invested heavily in with the now defunct Windows Mobile operating system.
Steven Sinofsky’s appearance at the 2011 Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting at BUILD last week was also significant. Over the past few years the meeting typically included senior Microsoft executives from Microsoft’s business focussed areas. Sinofsky’s inclusion signals his importance across Microsoft and not just Windows. Former Microsoft executives Stephen Elop, Robbie Bach, Bob Muglia and Ray Ozzie have all taken part in recent analyst meetings.
Sinofsky also shares the same secrecy traits as Apple CEO Steve Jobs. He famously penned a memo to staff in 2007 entitled “transparency and disclosure“. In it he explained the careful balance of under promising and over delivering, a policy that played out well for the Windows 7 development. The secret nature of Windows 7 and Windows 8 development has lead to a new wow factor around Windows where Sinofsky has been able to control the message and slowly get consumers excited about Windows again. Don’t be surprised if Sinofsky is named Microsoft CEO following a roaring success with Windows 8. The company’s bets lay firmly on his head and it seems inevitable that he will succeed Ballmer over the next couple of years.
Image Credit: Microsoft Corporation