If you're a fan of longshots, a U.K. bookie has a deal you can't pass up: He's taking bets on who will be Microsoft's new CEO, and has given odds on Apple CEO Tim Cook taking the helm. The odds are long, but the payoff could be big.
Ladbrokes is a venerable bookie with almost 3,000 betting outlets spread across the U.K., Ireland, Belgium, and Spain. The betting public is well-known for being willing to bet on almost anything conceivable, so who will take Microsoft's helm is a natural. Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes explained it this way in an email to Computerworld:
"There is always interest in high-profile CEO vacancies and we feel that offering the odds gives our view of the likelihood of the chances various contenders have."
Ladbrokes put together a list of 25 contenders, ranging from the obvious to the far-fetched. The current favorite is former Microsoftie and current Nokia CEO Stephen Elop at 5 to 1 odds. In other words, bet $1, and you get $5 if he's named to be the next CEO. Just behind him is Kevin Turner, Microsoft's Chief Operating Office, ar 6 to 1 odds.
Both those are reasonable enough odds. But then things get, to put it mildly, wacky. Number 3 on the list is Steve Sinofsky, the former Windows honcho who was forced out because of the Windows 8 debacle. Sinofsky was always a polarizing force within Microsoft, even before the Windows 8 fiasco. At the moment he's likely considered radioactive within the company. I wouldn't expect there would be many takers on his 8 to 1 odds. But as P.T. Barnum said, there's a sucker born every minute.
Julie Larson-Green, who runs the Devices and Studios Engineering Group, is on the list at 8 to 1. That's a far more reasonable bet than Sinofsky, for whom she used to work.
There are plenty of familiar names on the list, such as fomer Microsoft board member and CEO of NetFlix Reed Hastings at 16 to 1 odds; eBay CEO John Donahoe at 20 to 1; Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer at 33 to 1; and COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg at 40 to 1.
Down near the bottom is where things get truly strange. How about Jonathan Ive, in charge of design at Apple, who's a 40-to-1 shot? Or Bill Gates, at 50 to 1?
And then there's the longest of long shots, Apple CEO Tim Cook at 100-to-1 odds. As Computerworld's Gregg Keizer points out, a $100 bet on Cook would return $10,000. Hey, it could happen. The odds are better than playing the lottery, although in truth, he's a much longer shot than 100 to 1.