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Microsoft ready to name Satya Nadella new CEO, report says

After months of searching, Microsoft's board is said to be close to naming Steve Ballmer's replacement. Bill Gates also may be out as chairman.

Satya Nadella
Microsoft/Brian Smale

Is Microsoft's long search for a new CEO about to end? A Bloomberg report says that the company's board is preparing to name Satya Nadella as Microsoft's next CEO. It also says the board may decide to replace Bill Gates as chairman.

If Nadella, now in charge of cloud computing, is about to become only the third CEO in Microsoft's 38-year history, the company will put in charge the sort of brainy technologist who is closer to the Gates mold than the hard-charging salesman that is Steve Ballmer. Nadella is in charge of the organization responsible for building Microsoft's Cloud OS, which powers Office 365, Bing, SkyDrive, Xbox Live, Skype, Dynamics, and enterprises around the world.

The report, quoting "people briefed on the process," said that John Thompson, Microsoft's lead independent director, is being considered as a possible chairman to replace Gates.

CNET reported on Wednesday rumblings that a decision could come down sometime within the next couple of weeks. But the search to find Microsoft's next boss has become the tech equivalent of "Waiting for Gadot." Nadella has figured in rumors as a possible candidate for several months. Earlier Thursday, CNET reported that he was about to get he nod, citing Recode's Kara Swisher. What's new this time around is the scenario in which Thompson would step into the role of chairman and Gates would officially sever his official connections with the company he founded with Paul Allen.

Insiders and executive recruiters say that the appointment of a new CEO could involve the departure of both Gates and Ballmer. They say a new CEO might be uncomfortable taking steps that reversed decisions carried out under the Gates-Ballmer regime if the duo still sat on the board.

Nadella's previous stints over the last couple of decades were as president of the Server and Tools business, senior vice president of R&D for the online services, and vice president of the Microsoft Business division.

Update 2:51 p.m. PT: A Microsoft spokesman said the company would have no comment on the matter.