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Bill Gates seen as Microsoft’s shadow CEO

Published Jan 20th, 2014 8:30PM EST
Microsoft CEO Search Gates

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Why is Microsoft having such difficulty finding a new CEO? As Re/code reports, many potential CEO candidates are worried about whether they’ll really have a free hand to run the company with founder and chairman Bill Gates lurking in the background. In fact, Re/code’s sources both inside and outside Microsoft say Gates “is more likely to remain visible, depending on the new leader, as well as more active within the company.”

This obviously comes with some upsides and downsides. On the plus side, Gates would seem to represent a steadying presence who could give Microsoft a clear direction while the new CEO learns the ropes of running the company. On the downside, it might be hard to find a CEO who’s willing to take over the company if they feel as though Gates will be second-guessing their every move.

“There are many positive examples of the return of founders — at Apple (where it worked!), Google (where it worked!),” Re/code writes. “But Yahoo’s Jerry Yang found that out — as a CEO and later when he stayed at the company as a key player — when the founder speaks, everything can also stop dead.”

For what it’s worth, Re/code expects that Microsoft will announces its new CEO at the end of January at the very earliest.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.