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Who will be Microsoft’s next CEO?

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Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer announced his early retirement last Friday and the hunt for the company’s next leader has already begun.

However, the search looks set to be a tough one, as the new CEO will have the responsibility of cleaning up after Ballmer, who leaves behind falling share prices, low product sales and tough competition from other tech giants like Apple, Google and Facebook.

“It’s a challenge akin to searching for a needle in a haystack, knowing the needle isn’t likely there. This is a massive effort in strategy, leadership and culture,” Robert Sutton, business author and professor at Stanford University told Bloomberg.

Some of the names which have reportedly been thrown into the mix include current employees such as Tony Bates, Satya Nadella, Qi Lu and Terry Myerson.

Externally, ex-Microsoft staff and current Google senior vice president, Vic Gundotra, and John Donahoe, CEO of eBay, are also said to be in the running, Bloomberg reported.

Microsoft will also have to review their business strategy, or find someone who can create one for the organisation, Joseph Daniel McCool, head of succession planning and executive search firm McCool Group, said.

“A strategic misdirection for Microsoft at this point could set things back quite a bit,” he said.

While the search continues, Microsoft will also have to grapple with the added challenge of managing employee expectations and reassuring workers who are now uncertain about the company’s future.

“There’s going to be more confusion near-term. It just seems like now there’s the question of how’s the new person going to look at these changes. From an employee perspective, they are at a point of ‘OK, now what do we do here?’” Sid Parakh, an analyst at McAdams Wright Ragen, said.

Bloomberg also reported senior executives within the company have emailed their staff to assure them they are committed to restructuring plans put in place previously.

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