Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) is looking for a new CEO. What do they need? A lawyer of course and here’s why. Big Tech is subject to much legal and regulatory scrutiny if not outright interference. Antitrust actions are constant. Law suits against competitors are daily events. If you develop something or buy it the competition immediately attacks it because they were working on something just like it. If they don’t attack it you will attack them.
This has nothing to do with engineering. There are thousands of engineers. some of them are even good.
What you need is a good war-time consigliere.
Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) stole an attractive engineer from Yahoo who is playing the engineering and development card. Marissa Meyer if you must ask.
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is post Steve Jobs but still very much in the developer super product mode.
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is still in the grips of its two founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Uber developers in their own right and employers of tens of thousands of brilliant and near brilliant engineers. They came the closest to breaking out of the mould and hiring a grey hair to help lead but they yanked the chain back recently.
Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) is still in the validation stage. Mark Zuckerberg must prove himself and validate his social media concept. But as any casual observer will notice they are spending more time on legal and regulatory issues; like it or not.
So the narrative at Microsoft is we need the next big general to lead us into battle. You can almost see the biblical imagery of an angel wielding a big ass sword slaying dragons and beasts.
The most effective leader for Microsoft would be a lawyer with good infighting instincts. The engineers you can hire and fire.
The market would be very confused because tech expects and evangelical type of CEO. A Steve Jobs who walks onto a stage holding something and fervently saying this is it and you need it now. The next day the law suits start-up.
If Microsoft hires a lawyer as CEO the competition would be very confused. If you hire an engineer you parse his résumé and you can guess what direction he will take. A lawyer well you just don’t know. And a lawyer is just what you need.
This radical idea would confuse investors in the interim but work big time in the long run.
But like the story title says. They will F it up for sure.
George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. Follow him on Twitter @financialskepti