Ford's board is open to CEO Alan Mulally stepping down before his planned departure in 2014, inside sources are telling Reuters. Ford's plan of succession, aside from who would be his actual successor, has been something approaching common knowledge – the 68-year-old former Boeing exec had plans to stay through 2014. This was recently confirmed by Mulally himself on Bloomberg Television and in Automotive News.

Motivation for the about-face comes from what Reuters calls a "growing confidence" in the current crop of Ford execs, led by Mark Fields. Fields, Ford's current chief operating officer, has been tipped as Mulally's ultimate successor, although he's far from the only person with eyes on Ford's top job. Normally, Ford's board saying they're open to an executive, that's done very well for the company, stepping down early would be nearly unremarkable. It's the timing of this announcement, though, that makes this a big piece of news.

Recently, Mulally has been the subject of rumors that he's interested in taking the CEO position at tech giant Microsoft. The Redmond, Washington-based company's CEO, Steve Ballmer, told the media in August that he'd be retiring in a year's time. The fires were stoked when tech website AllThingsD speculated that Mulally would take the top spot, despite denials from the man himself. Could Ford's current boss become the new top dog at Microsoft? Will Mark Fields replace him? Could recently departed Renault exec Carlos Tavares land at Ford in some capacity? Let us know what you think below in Comments.


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  • 43 Comments
      Merk
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mullaly had done a great job at changing the culture of Ford and turning it around. I read not so long ago that much of the the turn around plan was Mark Fields' and the rest of the Ford Team, but the culture was too self destructive. It's time for him to leave and see if this team can stand on their own, he has become too much of a distraction and may even be hindering growth. Microsoft has major issues with it's culture also, perhaps Mullaly doesn't know tech, but fixing culture my just do the trick and maybe MS can move forward. Certainly he can't do any worse than what Balmer did to the stockholders for 13yrs.
      Highlander
      • 1 Year Ago
      The job of a CEO is not to actually know the core business, but to know the people and how to do business. To know the core business you have advisers.
      Street King
      • 1 Year Ago
      Some of us have already or will benefit in the future from his great job at Ford. However, ALL of us will benefit if he goes to Microsoft and fixes that mess.
      RGT881
      • 1 Year Ago
      I read about half the comments on here and got annoyed. Some really do understand what Mulally was able to achieve with a company that was still hurting from its Jacques "The Knife" Nasser and then Bill Ford who was simply too damn nice. It's more than just giving Ford a design language inspired by Ford Europe, it was about building commonality through harnesses, chassis components, platforms, engines, transmissions electronics. That was just one aspect of a multi-faceted approach at fixing Ford. They mortgaged everything they had to have enough funds to fix Ford, they reworked their marketing strategy, they brought in young people into the showrooms, they also kept the older customers with the Mustang. In between they fixed Fusion, Escape, Focus. They preserved and enhanced the quality of F-150. Made small business owners happy for Ford Transit. I'm sorry, but I follow automotive industry way closer than just reading Autoblog, and I've been observing it since 2002. If Ford hadn't brought on Mulally, it would have been stuck with subpar products like the Ford 500/Mercury Montego rebadge nonsense.
        RGT881
        • 1 Year Ago
        @RGT881
        Grrr...another grammatical fail on my part...that's what happens when I type faster than I think...or is it the other way around?
      Essende
      • 1 Year Ago
      As much as I like Mulally, the guy gets too much credit for what essentially was FINALLY bringing down the European designs to USA which Ford should have done years ago. He didn't invent anything, he is also more of a suit than a visionary like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. I believe Ford was about to consolidate it's designs to save costs with Mulally or not. He also didn't invent Eco-boost (turbo with direct injection which has been widespread in Europe since late 1990s) although I am more than sure he approved the catchy name. MIcrosoft Sync is also not a Ford invention. The way I look at it, it's a two way street, CEO's without great design/engineering staff, factory workers, or even bean counters wouldn't accomplish crap and vice versa. Right now Ford has great design and modern technology, both of which are a product of a thousands of people working on it, not just one.... As a side note, Boeing and its recent 787 was Mulallys idea of trying to outsource as many components as possible and to this day I would say that 787 is pretty much a disaster for Boeing (delayed launch because of part supply issues, major bugs all over the place mostly because of cost cutting).
        RGT881
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Essende
        Steve Jobs and Musk were hardly visionaries...just like many others, they had few good ideas which were spot on and then a ton of ideas which weren't so good.
          Essende
          • 1 Year Ago
          @RGT881
          At least they were a part of actual design, Mulally is a number cruncher type of guy, not much to do with design...
      MAX
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Mulally myth was that Ford didn't take bailout money when they really took government money under other names like TARP and the low interest government loan for 6 billion they got from the energy department. http://lpo.energy.gov/projects/ford-motor-company/ Ford also was in trouble before GM and Chrysler and had the option of going to Wall Street and getting bailed out but then the government had to bail out Wall Street. The Mulally myth is one thing but the real legacy will be the failed Lincoln-Mercury division. I wouldn't trade Marchionne for Mulally.
        throwback
        • 1 Year Ago
        @MAX
        "Ford also was in trouble before GM and Chrysler and had the option of going to Wall Street and getting bailed out but then the government had to bail out Wall Street." this statement makes no sense. Mulally had the forsesight to see Ford needed to restructure and focus on the Ford brand. He mortgage everything of value at Ford including the emblem to BORROW money from the banks. At the time most people thought Ford would never be able to repay those loans. Whether or not the banks got bailed out, Ford was still on the hook for their loans. Ford never approached the government about loans for restructuring, but did take advantage of the loans the government had available to ALL car companies under DOE programs. Ford did not get the benefit of a government structured bankruptcy that wiped out all of the debts like GM and Chrysler. To this day Ford still has more debt on their books than GM and Chrysler combined. As for Marchionne, the government gifted him Chrysler and he has done a decent job with the company.
      SteveM
      • 1 Year Ago
      I can't pretend to have all the answers, however I don't think Microsoft needs a 68 year old non-tech guy to run the show. I think he's made smart moves for Ford, but IT in general is becoming quite a different landscape, one I think Alan would find himself drowning in very quickly.
        methos1999
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SteveM
        Your comment reminds me of a criticism a Ford exec had about Mulally when he first took the Ford CEO position. The exec said something to the effect of how complicated the auto industry is and expressed his doubts that Mulally could handle it. Mulally's response was (to paraphrase): "Cars have something like 3000 parts, and if they break down you most likely end up on the side of the road; passenger aircraft have about 3 million parts, and if they break you fall out of the sky. Don't tell me about complicated" Age aside, I think a non-tech guy is exactly what Microsoft needs. Somebody who is not so invested in the IT landscape and can fix Microsoft's management dysfunction and give the whole company some focus I think would do well.
          kal_elkal
          • 1 Year Ago
          @methos1999
          Non, a non-MBA is the kind of guy that Microsoft needs. A kind of like J Allard, who they lost a couple of years ago. He would be perfect for the role of CEO with the kind of innovation and vision that man had as part of Microsoft's Research department. Mulally wouldn't know the first thing about trying to balance consumer and enterprise interests within the context of the exact same product, to say nothing of the fact the kind of transition to a services and devices company that MS is transitioning to. The whole rumor is nothing but a fabricated lie to get clicks.
        protovici
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SteveM
        Hmmm, I would say incorrect. Ford has received many awards in relation to their technology within different vehicles. Though, some have bugs to workout, they have been much in-touch with the tech industry,
          SteveM
          • 1 Year Ago
          @protovici
          Dig Deeper... their touch tech(Sync) is Microsoft based. Ford may tweak it, but they surely don't develop it. Not a criticism, most companies do buy the technology they need rather than develop it. I've been in IT for 31 years... Microsoft needs brilliant young minds to help them connect with... brilliant young minds.
      • 1 Year Ago
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        chambo622
        • 1 Year Ago
        An average commented like you, who uses double negatives? Sure...
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chambo622
          [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
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          • 1 Year Ago
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      JayP
      • 1 Year Ago
      He is my write-in vote for 2016.
      IBx27
      • 1 Year Ago
      Microsoft could use the Mulally touch. Maybe he can help keep them from turning Nokia into crap like the new Xbox, or letting it rot away like Zune.
      protovici
      • 1 Year Ago
      The CEO of CEO's.
      groingo
      • 1 Year Ago
      That could be a very interesting and good thing for Microsoft, we all know Microsoft needs something!
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