He leads a pool including internal candidates Kevin Turner and Julie Larson-Green and outsiders like Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook -- a 100-to-1 dark horse.
Microsoft is searching for a CEO who can help the biggest software maker fight back against competition in mobile, search, video, gaming and personal-computing development. Microsoft said last week Ballmer, its leader since 2000, would step down within the next 12 months.
Elop’s all-or-nothing remake of Nokia, using Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system, hasn’t yet created a significant challenger to Apple and Samsung Electronics Co., the dominant leaders in the smartphone market.
Still, Elop can claim at least one recent victory: In the second quarter, on the strength of Nokia’s Lumia phones, Microsoft beat out BlackBerry Ltd. as the third-largest smartphone operating system, according to a Gartner report earlier this month.
The betting house says Turner, Microsoft’s chief operating officer, is the second-favorite contender for the CEO job at 6-to-1, followed by Andreessen Horowitz board partner Steve Sinofsky and Larson-Green, at 8-to-1.
Larson-Green replaced Sinofsky as the company’s Windows chief last year after Sinofsky clashed with executives including Ballmer, people familiar with the situation said at the time. She has since taken on responsibility for all hardware.
Then there’s Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder and the world’s richest person -- and a 50-to-1 bet. Gates isn’t being considered for the job, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Gates has a net worth of about $71 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The only more unlikely candidate on the list is Cook, a 15-year Apple veteran handpicked by co-founder Steve Jobs to lead the company. While his 100-to-1 odds seem daunting, they’re slightly better than the chances of winning $4 with a Powerball lottery ticket. Hey, it could happen.
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