Cringeworthy CEO candidates Microsoft missed

In Satya Nadella, Microsoft played it sensible. Here are the Ballmer successors we tech wags wanted to make our Redmond-flogging jobs a little easier

Cringeworthy CEO candidates Microsoft missed
Credit: Kyle Flood via Wikimedia
Cringeworthy CEO candidates Microsoft missed

Discussion, speculation, uncaring frivolity -- it's all fair game when it comes to assessing Microsoft's choice of Satya Nadella to replace Steve Ballmer as CEO. How might Nadella right the Windows wrongs? What kind of voodoo will Redmond haters perform to hex the new head honcho? What should be the street name of the new ruler of the evil empire?

But the real question on everyone's lips: Who would have Cringely hired? After all, years of being head public Microsoft scourge has given me unique insights into how Microsoft should be run for our best whipping-post amusement. Here's the short list of who should have been chosen, organized in descending order of "Cringely viability."

9. Stephen The Flop Elop
Credit: Reuters
9. Stephen "The Flop" Elop

Stephen Elop's nickname stems from the mess he would have made of Microsoft as CEO. Elop left Microsoft once to head up Nokia because he couldn't handle the corporate pressure or the Seattle climate, both practically nonexistent at Nokia because everyone knows Finland has great weather and, at the time, Nokia had nowhere to go but up. Before that, he helped run Boston Market into bankruptcy as its questionably technology-savvy CIO. He has just the right amount of unreasoning Apple/Google-phobia to have rerouted Microsoft's primary resources at Surface and Windows Phone so that the company could have finally chucked its enterprise baggage and concentrated on the real moneymakers.

8. Tony I Wish I Was Gates Bates
Credit: Reuters / Susana Bates
8. Tony "I Wish I Was Gates" Bates

This college dropout has attempted to mirror Bill Gates's climb to filthy riches with limited success. He oversaw Skype's transition from an important independent communication channel to a tertiary Microsoft property that will be absorbed by Lync, at the cost of Skype jobs -- great experience for a future Microsoft CEO since the company started a regular cadence of layoffs, er, "reductions in force" whenever senior executives need to prove a stock increase and net their bonuses.

7. Alan Jaws Mullaly
Credit: Reuters / Toru Hanai
7. Alan "Jaws" Mullaly

So named for the big white teeth he shows with his oft-displayed politician's grin, Alan Mullaly is credited with bringing Ford back from the brink, though he couldn't save Detroit. He would have been perfect for Microsoft CEO (and Microsoft CEO critics) because he knows very little about technology, which would have perpetuated the underlying confusion and incompetence we've come to associate with the job. He supposedly helped Ballmer map out last year's teamwork-oriented reorganization of Microsoft, which, according to my sources, didn't work at all. That probably had him as a close finalist to Nadella.

6. Paul Blitz Maritz
Credit: Reuters / Stephen Lam
6. Paul "Blitz" Maritz

Paul Maritz has hopped furiously around head-honcho gigs for the past decade, flitting from one C-level exec role to another. He has tech chops, which helped his rise at Microsoft to govern both its server and client platform development. He resigned in 2000 just in time to dodge the Windows ME bullet.

Since then, he co-founded Pi Corp. (which got munched up by EMC), jumped to CEO of rabidly anti-Microsoft VMware in 2008, then to a CEO position with startup Pivotal in early 2013. This kind of corporate ADHD would have made Maritz a perfect match for Microsoft's flailing product development initiatives.

5. Patrick Gunslinger Gelsinger
Credit: Intel
5. Patrick "Gunslinger" Gelsinger

Gelsinger is currently CEO of VMware, which is probably why he wasn't under serious consideration -- VMware is an actual innovator in the data center, rather than a me-too copycat like Microsoft's been for the past couple of decades. Plus, he's an ex-engineer with Intel experience, helping to design the 80286-80486 CPUs, so maybe a little too tech-minded to follow up the likes of Steve Ballmer.

4. Lucas BS King Duplan
Credit: Twitter
4. Lucas "BS King" Duplan

This 22-year-old has improved on the young tech CEO success story by not only dropping out of college and starting a tech firm in his mom's basement, but by founding a company that's attacted more than $25 million in VC financing while creating nothing. He worships money and is in arrogant denial regarding the future of his cash-hemorrhaging, stunningly-ill-named corporate baby, Crinkle. Certainly, the Microsoft board was eagerly searching for these qualities, but alas reason got the better of them.

3. Bill The King Gates
Credit: Reuters / Denis Balibouse
3. Bill "The King" Gates

Maybe it's true that Gates was pushed out of the board because he threw his hat in the ring for CEO. He terrifies everyone in the boardroom as being too sensible, and he owns the mortgages on all their homes. (In fact, he owns the mortgages on all our homes. Or at least he easily could.) He wanted the gig not just because he doesn't like where his baby's been going but also because his years as a philanthropist have convinced him that it's going to take a few more billion to solve all the world's problems.

2. George Lost It Lucas
Credit: Reuters / Edgar Su
2. George "Lost It" Lucas

A little-known dark horse finalist for the job, Lucas is probably the second-wealthiest man in the world unbeknownst to Forbes because most of his money is buried under Skywalker Ranch in a secret vault guarded by steroid freaks dressed as Wookiees armed with crossbows and lightsabers. He finally admitted to himself that he can no longer write a successful book, a winning "Star Wars" script, or a grocery store shopping list, so another role to disappoint the public (ahem, Microsoft CEO) would have been perfect.

1. Robert X. Ol' Blue Eyes Cringely
Credit: Wikipedia
1. Robert X. "Ol' Blue Eyes" Cringely

My suitability for the top Microsoft post is obvious. Blessed with rugged good looks, a genius IQ, a complete lack of hubris, and the ability to deal with any kind of pressure or crisis as long as I have access to a wet bar, there really was no better candidate currently inhabiting the planet. So it's time to admit the hoax, Microsoft. Nadella isn't your man -- I am.