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It has nearly been four months since Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that he is going to step down within 12 months. A special committee of Microsoft’s board is actively working to hire a replacement. A number of internal and external candidates are believed to be favorites but so far no official announcement has been made. According to unnamed sources who spoke with The Wall Street Journal, potential candidates are apparently worried about the influence of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, who remain on the company’s board.

Both Gates and Ballmer are without a doubt influential figures at Microsoft. Apart from the fact that they’re the only two CEOs that the company has ever had, Gates is also the co-founder of this behemoth whereas Ballmer will retain his seat on the board despite stepping down as CEO. The Journal’s sources claim that some candidates are “particularly uneasy” about Ballmer based on some of his decisions that have generated controversy between managers and investors and even “altered the company’s strategy.” Potential candidates for the top job include Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who will return to Microsoft after its acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services division is closed later this year. The board is reportedly looking for a turnaround expert, which is why most rumors point to Mulally as the possible successor to Steve Ballmer.

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