Bookmakers opened up the betting books on who will be named successor to Steve Ballmer, outgoing CEO of Microsoft Corporation who announced his retirement on August 23. Ladbrokes and other betting sites named several contenders expected to be favourites for the job, including Canadian-born Stephen Elop – current CEO of Nokia Corporation.
Ballmer has been with Microsoft dating back to the 1980s, and rose through the ranks to become CEO of the company in 2000 when he took over the position from Microsoft co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates. Ballmer took command of a number of projects for the company over the years, and was regarded for his leadership skills.
News of Ballmer’s impending retirement came as a surprise to most people outside the company. However, the CEO confirmed he will remain in his position until 2014 to help Microsoft through the transition while the company searches for a replacement.
The announcement immediately made Ballmer’s successor a popular topic with bookmakers, gambling sites, and online casinos around the world. Ladbrokes currently lists 26 candidates as potential successors to Ballmer, but the odds overwhelmingly favour Canada’s Stephen Elop.
Elop is no stranger to Microsoft. Prior to becoming CEO of Nokia in 2010, the Ontario born business mogul led Microsoft’s business division and was instrumental in strategizing Microsoft’s eventual entry into the mobile phone industry.
The odds on Elop are 5/1, ahead of Microsoft COO Kevin Turner whose odds are listed at 6/1. Julie Larson-Green, Microsoft’s Executive Vice-President of Devices is Ladbrokes’ leading female contender to succeed Ballmer.
Gates himself is also listed as returning as CEO, though the odds of 50/1 suggest his retaking the position is very unlikely. Tim Cook, current CEO of Apple, is also on Ladbrokes’ radar, but with even more unlikely odds than Gates at 100/1.
The new CEO will be one of Microsoft’s most important decisions as the company attempts to reclaim market share in the computer software and mobile smartphone industries.