Microsoft is closer to naming a new chief executive, according to a source familiar with the board's thinking, but it lost a front-runner candidate Tuesday when Ford Motor's chief, Alan Mulally, said he wouldn't be going to the software giant.
Mulally's comments reignited the guessing game over who will take over at Microsoft, following the elimination in December of another reported candidate, Qualcomm's (QCOM) Steve Mollenkopf.
Microsoft said last month it expects to appoint a new CEO early this year. It has been seeking a replacement for Steve Ballmer since the long-time CEO in August announced his plan to retire.
Sources familiar with the process have told Reuters that Microsoft is down to a "handful" of candidates, including one or more outsiders from the tech industry, former Nokia (NOK) CEO Stephen Elop and insiders Satya Nadella and Tony Bates.
Mulally, who has never denied his interest in the Microsoft job, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he will remain at Ford at least this year. Two people close to the matter told Reuters that Mulally is no longer under consideration for the top job at Microsoft.
"Out of respect for the process and the potential candidates, we don't comment on individual names," a Microsoft spokesman said.
The Ford CEO said he wanted to end the Microsoft speculation "because I have no other plans to do anything other than serve Ford." When the AP asked whether his comments should end concerns from investors about his exit, Mulally said: "You don't have to worry about me leaving."
Ford spokesman Jay Cooney confirmed the comments. After news of the interview, Ford (F) shares rose 1.3 percent in extended trade, while Microsoft (MSFT) shares fell 1.1 percent.
Several prominent Microsoft investors had campaigned behind the scenes for Mulally to succeed Ballmer. But one source familiar with Microsoft's board's discussions said Mulally's candidacy raised questions about "culture and leadership style."
Mulally's apparent interest in the job attracted considerable media attention that overshadowed Ford's product-related announcements, such as the roll-out of the new Mustang, something that frustrated Ford's board of directors, people familiar with the matter said.
Tech's Highest-Paid CEOs
Microsoft Close to Naming CEO, Ford's Mulally Staying Put
Cash compensation: $5.5 million
Stock and options: $90.7 million
Total compensation 1-year change: 24%
Despite his $1 salary, Ellison is not only the highest paid tech CEO this year, but the highest paid of all CEOs.
Most of Ellison's pay comes from his stock grants. In June of 2011 he was given an option to purchase 7 million shares of Oracle (ORCL) common stock.
Cash compensation: $1.6 million
Stock and options: $35 million
Total compensation 1-year change: N/A
Mayer left Google (GOOG) to join Yahoo (YHOO) as its CEO, president and a board member in July of 2012. Her base salary was set at $1 million with an annual bonus target set at $2 million a year.
Though she only took home $6 million last year, Mayer reached No. 2 on this list because she was also offered a one-time retention award when she was hired, consisting of stock grants that could total $30 million when they vest over the next five years.
Cash compensation: $4 million
Stock and options: $25.7 million
Total compensation 1-year change: 81%
The 81% jump in in Donahoe's salary this year is largely due to a one-time award of about $14.9 million paid in stock. According to a regulatory filing, Donahoe got the grant because he led eBay (EBAY) "successfully through a difficult turnaround ... and positioned it well for additional growth."
Cash compensation: $3.2 million
Stock and options: $18.9 million
Total compensation 1-year change: 25%
Benioff's base salary has been set at $1 million for the past two years. He received a $1.3 million cash bonus last year and almost $19 million in Salesforce.com (CRM) stock options and awards. He also received $650,000 to cover costs related to his personal security, which is "of paramount importance to the company," according to a regulatory filing.
Cash compensation: $8.4 million
Stock and options: $12.6 million
Total compensation 1-year change: 12%
Stephenson, who has served as CEO and president of AT&T (T) since 2007, was paid a $6 million bonus on top of his $1.6 million base salary in 2012. About $13 million of his pay came in the form of stock and awards.
Cash compensation: $5.7 million
Stock and options: $15 million
Total compensation 1-year change: -5%
Jacobs was given a $3.4 million cash bonus on top of his $1.2 million salary. Other compensation for the CEO included more than $280,000 for personal use of Qualcomm's (QCOM) corporate aircraft and more than $4,000 for things such as home office costs, personal travel and entertainment.