Report: Microsoft Investors Pushing Ford's Mulally, CSC's Lawrie As CEO Candidates


At IBM, Lawrie worked his way up the ranks to senior vice president and group executive of sales, overseeing the company's worldwide sales and distribution efforts. He left in 2004 for a CEO job at Siebel Systems, which at the time was one of IBM's top ISV partners.

This move puzzled many industry watchers, who wondered why Lawrie would leave a top post at IBM to join a struggling company that had seen its market cap drop by some $20 billion in the three years prior to his appointment.

But, Siebel fired Lawrie after less than a year for failing to execute on corporate goals, and the following year he joined U.K. based IT vendor Misys, where he remained until January 2012.

Lawrie joined CSC amid sagging financial results, layoffs and an SEC investigation into its accounting practices.

Since joining, Lawrie has streamlined CSC's management structure and cut the number of vice presidents from around 370 to 75, the Washington Business Journal reported last month.

While some Microsoft investors are likely anxious to see big changes at the top, it's tough to argue that the problems Microsoft is facing are anywhere near as severe as those Mulally and Lawrie have faced.

Microsoft has been hit hard by dwindling PC sales and hasn't managed to stem the bleeding with a coherent mobile device strategy. But, Microsoft has 16 separate billion-dollar businesses, which helped it generate $77.85 billion in revenue and earnings of $2.58 per share in its fiscal 2013.

But in Duffy's view, Microsoft needs a fresh set of eyes at CEO -- he's of mind that a "turnaround CEO" is exactly what Microsoft needs right now.

"If they don't hire some fresh blood, to get a new perspective, they are doomed to mediocrity," he said in an email. "They need someone who can reinvent the company and culture."

PUBLISHED SEPT. 10, 2013