What are the Odds Bill Gates Returns to Microsoft as CEO?

Paul Lilly

Don't bet on it

Microsoft needs a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), that much we know. What we don't know is who will take the baton from Steve Ballmer and run with it. Having announced his retirement , the search is on for a replacement to be named within the next 12 months, and one of the names being tossed about is Bill Gates. Might he actually make a comeback and give this thing another go?

"No chance," a senior executive at the company said, according to Business Inside r . In no uncertain terms, the news outlet was told there is "no way" Gates assumes his old role no matter what happens in the next 12 months. Of course, stranger things have happened.

Steve Jobs came back after a decade-long hiatus and served as CEO of Apple for 36 months. It would have been longer, too, had health issues not cut his time short. Should Gates change his mind, he wouldn't necessarily have to stay on as CEO as long as Jobs did, but could serve as an interim chief long enough to right the ship.

"There is no clear candidate with the visionary skills to turn the company around other than Bill Gates," Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff told CNET . "He wouldn't just be a magnet for a new vision, but for a talent pool of leadership."

It's an interesting vote of confidence from a man who once called Microsoft a "dinosaur" for "trying to hold onto their past more than trying to create their future." Benioff made those remarks in 2008 before Gates retired. However, he believes Gates is a different person these days.

"He could come back with new ways to run the company, let Melinda run the charitable foundation, make changes and identify the next to come, with a clear window of three years," Beinoff proposes.

What do you think? Should Gates considering coming out of retirement on an interim basis, or is it time to infuse Microsoft with some fresh blood?

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