Microsoft’s CEO search took another unusual turn this morning as chipmaker Qualcomm named Steve Mollenkopf its next CEO, just hours after Bloomberg News reported that he was in the running to succeed Steve Ballmer as Microsoft’s top leader.
Current Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs will become the company’s executive chairman when Mollenkopf takes the job in March of next year.
The move appears to complicate matters further for Microsoft’s board as it seeks a new leader for the company, although it’s not clear how seriously Mollenkopf was being considered for the job. Mollenkopf, who joined Qualcomm as an engineer in 1994, has been serving as the company’s chief operating officer, and was seen as a potentially strong candidate for his technical chops and mobile experience.
Ford CEO Alan Mulally, meanwhile, has apparently fallen out of favor among the Microsoft board as a candidate. AllThingsD reported this week that Mulally’s ”star has fallen quickly, which sources said is due to some shift in opinion among Microsoft’s directors that perhaps a more tech-experienced exec is needed, with major chops in either the enterprise or consumer arenas.”
At this point, with the holidays fast approaching, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Microsoft doesn’t name its new leader until early next year.
To get a sense for what could have been, here’s an interview with Mollenkopf at CES 2012.