Microsoft reportedly considering Qualcomm COO as new CEO

Just as Ford's Alan Mulally is said to be off the tech giant's shortlist to replace Steve Ballmer, Qualcomm's Steve Mollenkopf is said to be on it.

Dara Kerr
Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
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Qualcomm's chief operating officer Steve Mollenkopf. Qualcomm

Microsoft has reportedly added Steve Mollenkopf, Qualcomm's chief operating officer, to the list of candidates to replace Steve Ballmer as chief executive, according to Bloomberg.

Mollenkopf, 44, is said to be among several candidates under consideration to fill the position as early as by the end of the year, the news agency reported, citing unidentified sources.

The executive has a strong background in technology as the COO of one of the largest chipmakers for mobile devices. He leads Qualcomm's divisions, business operations, market expansion, and development areas. Mollenkopf also works on future technology development activities and the company's global strategy.

Seeing as Microsoft is looking to become more competitive in the smartphone world with its Windows Phone devices, it makes sense that it would consider a CEO knowledgeable in this area.

Ballmer, who has led the company for the past 13 years, announced in August that he would retire within 12 months once a replacement is found who will carry out Microsoft's new vision of offering more devices and services.

The company's board formed a special committee to seek out potential candidates. Meeting with Microsoft's shareholders, the committee has been narrowing down its list of possible successors from an initial 40 people, both internal and external, to a reported handful.

Other possible successors on the list include former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, Microsoft Executive VP Tony Bates, and Microsoft cloud and enterprise chief Satya Nadella. Ford's CEO Alan Mulally was once a rumored front-runner on the list but has reportedly said he plans to stay where he is.

While Ballmer is expected to leave Microsoft within the next few months, recent reports say the seat change could happen as soon as the end of this year.

When contacted by CNET, Microsoft declined to comment. CNET also contacted Qualcomm for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

On December 13, one day after reports said Microsoft had added Mollenkopf to its list of potential CEOs, Qualcomm announced that it was naming Mollenkopf its new CEO. Mollenkopf is expected to take over as Qualcomm's CEO early next year.

Updated December 13 at 10:25 a.m. PT to say Microsoft declined to comment.

Updated December 14 at 1:05 p.m. PT to say Mollenkopf has been named Qualcomm's new CEO.