Rumor: Terry Myerson Has Asked For the CEO Announcement To Be Delayed Until Spring 2014

Edit: Looks like my sources were correct: Microsoft Confirms: CEO Won’t Be Named Until Early 2014

I’ve been inspired by Dina Bass lately.  So take with post with a grain of salt, maybe mountains of salt.  Typically when original rumors are posted on msnews we like to have two other sources of independent confirmation.  The following information in this post is from multiple people, but only a “single source,” so no independent confirmation.  Individuals sending tips often have an agenda, so just keep that in mind.

I received an anonymous tip early last week that Microsoft is considering making its CEO announcement late Q2 / early Q3:

“[...] the board is now considering announcing the new CEO later than originally planned, most likely at the end of Q2 or maybe early Q3 [...]“

The information did not really make sense to me initially, Q3 would be way too late, giving Ballmer nearly 9 months of the year he promised to retire within.  On Friday, Microsoft accidentally posted the Build conference would occur from April 2 -4 and I have reconsidered the tip in light of this information.

First, lets take a look at a couple dates:

  • The Consumer Electronics Show will be from January 7 – 10 in Las Vegas, NV.  Microsoft is expected to have a presence there showing off Surfaces and tablets from partners, but no major announcements are expected.  Microsoft has learned in the past that there is simply too much noise during CES.
  • It is widely expected that Windows Phone 8.1 will be announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain from February 24 – 27 2014.
  • Build registration Jan 14
  • The Build conference will start a mere three days later (not a leap year so no Feb 29th) on Sunday April 2nd.

Now the tipster was probably referring to Q2 in terms of how Microsoft (and many other companies) view the fiscal year.   This means Q2 would end around mid-April, about two weeks after the Build conference.  Now Ballmer announced he would retire, within 1 year, on August 23, 2013 a week before the Q1 2014 earnings results.  An announcement regarding the company’s new CEO a week before the Q3 earnings results would be quite plausible and about 7 months after Ballmer’s initial announcement.  I believe there are some SEC regulations around announcing a new CEO.

Another tipster sent me this nugget (language censored by me):

“[...] Myerson has formally asked the board to announce the new CEO after a version of Update 1 wave bits goes public.  They f*****s are seriously considering it [...] the stock higher than its been in a decade in addition to the [...] 

When I read this email a weeks ago we did not know much regarding Update 1.  But it has now been reported Terry Myerson wants to realign the company around a Spring release cycle instead of one that been traditionally focused around the holiday season.  Threshold will be the first release around this re-aligned schedule in Spring of 2015.   Because of this some of the work that was being done for “Windows 8.2″ is now going to be released in a smaller release dubbed “Update 1″ for Spring of 2014.  These updates will be of course be a wave of releases for Xbox, Windows, Windows Phone, and more.

Terry Myerson Greg Grunberg

Greg Grunberg left, Terry Myerson right

Many tipsters refer to Myerson as Greg Grunberg, due to some similarities in appearance to the actor.  It might be a known nickname at Microsoft or possibly an additional layer of protection in avoiding negative comments about Terry being traced back to you:

“Ballmer has stopped making decisions there are five mini-dictators running this company.  Greg Grunberg has taken advantage of the situation and is on a power high.  

[...]

Grunberg is as arrogant as he was during his Interse days. The nepotistic b*****d even had his own brother promoted, indirectly of course. [...]“

I asked another source what was going on with WP8.1, especially with the team leaders taking own other responsibilities in the re-org (hipster Joe = Joe Belfiore):

“Grunberg and hipster Joe have delegated many of the WP responsibilities to individuals they have who have now been promoted w/in the WP team.  The inner circle is mostly in places outside the core WP team, but of course remain quite influential.  As to your question about the ‘shut-up and ship,’ it’s complete bullsh*t to an extent.  The team doesn’t know how to keep secrets [...] The reality is there won’t be too many surprises come time to reveal features, most of it has already been leaked.  No reason 8.1 couldn’t have been released this holiday.  But Grunberg wanted to maintain his independence from the rest of the company.  

[...]

[...] One Microsoft, but only if Greg gets his way, ha. [...]“

Sadly I have heard from others too that Windows 8.1 will not be the revolutionary leap many were hoping for.  Apparently a lot of work had to be done on the back-end and that is where most of the time was spent.   The team also spent some time implementing specific features for Nokia in each of the GDRx releases.  I’m sure the Nokia acquisition wa a distraction too.  With the goal posts moved again, we now pin our hopes on ‘Threshold.’

Here is what I’m hearing about the start menu:

“Yes the start menu is being seriously considered, implementation is still being worked out.  Harris was furious about this, but Belfiore runs design now.  He [Jensen Harris] called Qi Lu and is now bunkered down in the Bing team.”

In a discussion with another individual some time ago:

Hachamovitch is just the biggest name to go hide somewhere, nobody bothers talking about Dworkin, George, Leblond and or DeVaan but around the company people have noticed.  Dean had a close relationship with Ballmer and Sinofsky.  The Dynamics group and Dean were the only two parts of the company excluded from the re-org, but Ballmer’s ring of protection is now gone.  Myerson’s taken full control of IE.

[...]

Sinofsky was a polarizing figure, you either loved or hated him.  Those who close to Sinofsky are now being forced out by Myerson and people from the WP team are being put in their place.  [...] There are really only a few places to go hide in, either MSR, Azure, Dynamics or Bing.  The “one microsoft” vision is just not playing out right now. [...]

[...] 

People are scared right now, I see my colleagues updating their linked-in profiles daily.  The lack of a succession plan by Ballmer & the board is a huge f*ck-up.  I doubt this will ever be allowed to happen again.  Recruiters from other companies are sprawling around the campus daily, know there’s an opportunity.  I doubt we’ll see too many higher profile employees leave the company until next year.  But I know some mid-level employees who are leaving, since bonuses have been handed out for the year.  More people are going to be displaced when Elop comes in next year.   It’s not just Elop coming in, but his whole executive team. I’ve heard Larson might leave the company. [...]

The above is true, we reported on some it here in late September: Terry Myerson Flexes His Muscle, Removes Sinofsky’s Lieutenants From Power Interestingly enough I did note “Sources tell me that Myerson, Larson-Green, Qi Lu, Kirill Tatarinov, and Reller are not seriously being considered for the role of CEO put may go through the formalities of the process.”

Microsoft Employees told AllThingD they would like a CEO named before the end of the year: Will Microsoft Name Its CEO Before the New Year? Weary Employees Hope for Even Sooner. 

But Microsoft stock may tank after the CEO is named, analyst speculation is pushing Microsoft’s stock to decade highs and keeping investors of the company’s back.  There may be no rush to name one quickly.

Lastly, I have been trying to find out what’s planned for Build, it appears nothing is set in stone yet:

No definitive schedule yet, it’s still some months down the line.  Obviously lot of developer goodies for the expected platforms  Outside of that, the event will also serve as a big tribute for Ballmer.  Some of the channel 9 guys are working on putting some archived footage together and doing interviews with old employees, Gates etc.[...]“

Now we know Build is going to be a fairly large event.  Given that it is being held in San Francisco, it can accommodate many more people compared to the build conference at headquarters in Redmond two years ago.  The conference is expected to unveil the developer story for Xbox, Windows Phone, and show off Windows 8.1 update.  The products that will be shown off at Build are already significantly down the development roadmap.

Announcing a new CEO may put undue pressure on him/her to get up to speed on all products being shown off at the conference.  This also may take the focus of the conference off the products and onto the CEO.  Also, the new CEO is in a position of endorsing products he has had little control over.  Taking control of the company after the build conference allows the new CEO to meddle with products as he sees fit and implement his own vision for the company.  Build also being a last hur-ah for Steve Ballmer seems quite plausible to me, I think he would want to hang around for one last conference.

Typically the board meets once a month, but in light of the CEO search they’ve been (formally) meeting as often as once a week.  The board is down to their last two candidates, and is leaning towards one of them.  Some legal due diligence is deciding when to announce their decision is all that remains from what I’ve been hearing.  If the candidate were to accept the job some time would also be expended on contract negotiations.  Of course an extended period without a CEO benefits Myerson too.  Nobody messes with his plans and he cements himself as a powerful figure within the company.  Terry was more clever than we all thought he is undoubtedly the most powerful person within the company right now.  And I think it is quite likely Myerson asked the board to wait to announce their CEO pick until Spring 2014.

*Just wanted to also make a small note that this post might seem negative towards Terry Myerson.  It’s not really my intention, but as people who were loyal to Sinofsky are being forced out they are finally starting to open up and talk and may have a biased point of view.  I was always a big fan of Sinofsky’s and his vision for Win8 (no start menu, etc), so it might be one of the reasons my inbox has been full lately.  Paul Thurrott on the other hand loves Myerson, and was literally having an orgasm on Windows Weekly about how great the Windows team is now after hearing the start menu was coming back.  Thurrott doesn’t like change, I remember he thought the taskbar in Windows 7 was too ‘radical’ of a change.  Anyways, somewhere between what Thurrott is reporting and what is posted here lies the truth.

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About the author  ⁄ Suril Amin

Suril is a scientist, journalist and obsessive Microsoft observer. He holds an advanced degree in Biotechnology with minors in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology. Send him tips on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/surilamin