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Microsoft CEO candidates reportedly uneasy about Gates/Ballmer's influence

  • The WSJ reports external candidates contacted by Microsoft (MSFT) during its drawn-out CEO search "have expressed concerns about being hamstrung" by Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, should they remain on the company's board.
  • Candidates are said to be particularly nervous about Ballmer remaining involved, and question whether he would stand idly if a new CEO embraced a very different strategy from his own.
  • Nonetheless, Gates and Ballmer (combined 8.3% stake in Microsoft) reportedly lack veto power over Microsoft's CEO choice.
  • Director/search committee chief John Thompson stated last month Microsoft expects to finish its CEO search in early 2014, and (citing comments from Gates) suggested the company was looking for a candidate able to lead "a highly technical organization." Shortly before that, Bloomberg reported Ford CEO Alan Mulally's candidacy had "faded" due to concerns about his lack of an IT background.
Comments (25)
  • omarbradley
    , contributor
    Comments (966) | Send Message
     
    why not Bill Gates then? I can think of great candidate who's retired from Microsoft...ex Annapolis...and now a member of the State Legislature out that way I believe.
    3 Jan, 07:16 PM Reply Like
  • Derek A. Barrett
    , contributor
    Comments (3534) | Send Message
     
    I think Bill Gates heart is with his foundation unfortunately, so that keeps him out of the running.

     

    He's in a different stage in his life where Microsoft is no longer his focus
    3 Jan, 09:43 PM Reply Like
  • techy46
    , contributor
    Comments (6202) | Send Message
     
    Why would Gates want to give up playing with his $60b kingdom that just became an $80b kingdom and only 25% is still invested in Microsoft and he has managers at Cascade that do all the work on manipulating his portfolio. Running a global technology enterprise like Apple, Google or Microsoft is really frustrating and tiring especially if you're over 55. It gets downright boring too.
    3 Jan, 11:58 PM Reply Like
  • Jiaberg-Sydney-OZ
    , contributor
    Comments (156) | Send Message
     
    Modern day board of directors in large corporate tend to be PROFESSIONAL MANAGEMENT type and most also have management consultant background. They tend to select fellow professional managers and management consultant type as CEO's who in turn appoint fellow directors to CEO positions of other corporate. Management consultant type have no vision but their own selfish goals that have nothing to do with the company's welfare.

     

    History says that most non-financial-banking enterprises suffer from this dwindling fortune once the initial founders leave the stage and management consultant type take over. IBM, HP, etc all are now clearly seeing their best days behind.

     

    If Bill Gates and Steve Balmer are excluded while they could still be active in Microsoft, their visions will be distorted and even destroyed by professional manager-management consultant type. This would then spell the end of Microsoft. If it is not the end, it certainly means that the glory days of Microsoft would probably have left it.

     

    Gee, what a turnaround in the fortune of Microsoft since the advent of iPhone-iPad.... Now, we even have Professional Manager-Management Consultant type (disguised as board directors) circling for the pound of flesh for Microsoft.
    4 Jan, 07:07 AM Reply Like
  • davidibanez
    , contributor
    Comments (103) | Send Message
     
    If Bill Gates were to step back as CEO for a mere 18-24 months, Microsoft shares would pop upwards of $20 immediately. And it would be a very, very good thing on every dimension. Melinda can run the Foundation during that time and Bill could put Microsoft on great footing for another decade.

     

    Gates and Ballmer were great CEO's. While Apple was developing phones (all now copied) and taking a lot of glory, Ballmer was building the cloud infrastructure knowing the mobile devices would all lead to the cloud. Ballmer chose correctly. Apple is now just a phone company and Ballmer beat Apple to the living room with Xbox One.

     

    Any potential CEO who has trouble with Gates and Ballmer is a total non-starter.
    3 Jan, 07:24 PM Reply Like
  • omarbradley
    , contributor
    Comments (966) | Send Message
     
    this is a software company. he needs a hand picked computer programmer with management expertise. i haven't stayed in touch with this class mate of mine...but I have no doubt "he's that good." surround yourself with the best programming expertise you can find (don't tell me they're not out there...Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Oracle...i mean seriously...these are the best businesses on the planet right now) and start get those creative juices working. in the ideal world it's someone who just has fun being a programmer.
    3 Jan, 07:43 PM Reply Like
  • Ruffdog
    , contributor
    Comments (1560) | Send Message
     
    Why? I worked for a utility. The 2 best CEO's we had, one was a lawyer and the other was a bean counter. Although it was a high paying dividend stock, it was a quadruple with them at the helm. The troops complained they knew nothing about runing a utility but they were sure proven wrong.
    3 Jan, 08:05 PM Reply Like
  • techy46
    , contributor
    Comments (6202) | Send Message
     
    A hand picked computer programmer? Microsoft needs an information technology and marketing visionary that understands consumers and enterprises on a global scale. Someone like Eric Schmidt but younger.
    4 Jan, 12:02 AM Reply Like
  • BrentWilliams
    , contributor
    Comments (3) | Send Message
     
    You are suggesting that Gates could drive a 50% "management premium" on the stock. That's ludicrous. Apple in its best days never had a 50% management premium for Steve Jobs, who is arguably more of a "rock star" CEO (though I'm not going to get into who was a better CEO). There were "brand equity" studies around the time of the iPhone intro that calculated the management premium of Jobs at the helm and it was nothing like 1/3 of market cap.

     

    Microsoft is beset with structural problems that I don't think any CEO, including Gates, could solve them in any reasonable time frame. In other words, they're beholden to organizational physics. If you got Jeff Immelt of GE or similar talent, you probably would be lucky to see a $3 pop on the stock. And I don't think they'll be able to get anybody that good.
    4 Jan, 01:48 AM Reply Like
  • Ruffdog
    , contributor
    Comments (1560) | Send Message
     
    MSFT needs a bean counter that will surround himself with hand picked computer programmers and then listen to what they tell him.
    4 Jan, 11:06 AM Reply Like
  • Deja Vu
    , contributor
    Comments (1277) | Send Message
     
    Ballmer is the man who thought Windows 8 was a good idea. What I read between the lines is, that the CEO candidates have suggested that they want to junk Windows 8 and that will probably repudiate everything Ballmer has done since Windows 7 came out. I imagine throwing a guy's work out whole sale won't sit well with him.

     

    Mullaly was a joke, a Ron Johnson situation again. Fortunately saner heads seem to have prevailed at Muccosoft.

     

    I don't think junking the horrible stack ranking system was voluntarily done by Ballmer either. After all he sat as the CEO for many years while the stack ranking wreaked havoc within Microsoft.

     

    I wonder if Ballmer was responsible for the Office Ribbon toolbar also? As I see it, the greatest errors on Microsoft's part were a) windows 8 and b) ribbon toolbar.

     

    That's leaving out the minor stuff like missing the smartphone revolution and stuff like social networking...paying 8B or 6B for Skype when for that sort of money at that time they could have bought the whole of FB...
    3 Jan, 10:40 PM Reply Like
  • honeycakes
    , contributor
    Comments (5) | Send Message
     
    The name itself, Windows 8 ... shows a disconnection with today's reality.
    In young texters newspeak, 8 simply means 'hate'.

     

    "Windows Hate".

     

    I bet the competition's been rofl
    5 Jan, 10:03 AM Reply Like
  • honeycakes
    , contributor
    Comments (5) | Send Message
     
    These very words, ' Windows 8 ' ... show a disconnection with today's reality.

     

    In the young texters newspeak, 8 is the symbol for 'hate'.
    " Windows hate ".
    The competition was probably rofl
    5 Jan, 11:14 AM Reply Like
  • 2puttwo
    , contributor
    Comments (470) | Send Message
     
    Ok
    4 Jan, 12:31 AM Reply Like
  • DUP
    , contributor
    Comments (206) | Send Message
     
    Even thinking the Ford guy to run a technical company like Microsoft is bad news. Ford can't introduce new products without recalling one model 7 times!! Come on....The Boeing stuff is stuck in recalls redos and one delay after another...no Mullaly please, the stock has been dead money for years, it will stay such, with a Ford dolt in charge.
    4 Jan, 10:20 AM Reply Like
  • psychological-dividends
    , contributor
    Comments (777) | Send Message
     
    The management is not nimble.
    4 Jan, 10:47 AM Reply Like
  • dweebster
    , contributor
    Comments (347) | Send Message
     
    Well, OK guys I'll weigh in as a longtime fan of the better parts of MSFT, including windows and the office suite that I used for years next to other high-tech software in geoscience mapping (workstations). I agree with the folks who think an auto guy, in fact, an old auto guy, would NOT be any good at all for Microsoft. My inclination is somebody younger - maybe MSFT could steal somebody young, with management experience obviously, from Google or another close competitor. Most of the young executives inside MSFT are relatively unknown to the investing public, and to me, so I must overlook them. The job is so huge, that one wonders if there is indeed a political aspect to this that works against unknown names. Dunno. Among the known people, I remain a steadfast fan of Stephen Elop because he's young, knows the company inside and out and has demonstrated time and time again the courage necessary to make tough, correct decisions. And his decisions tended to be correct within those factors that he controlled at Nokia. Nokia basically owes it's continued existence to Stephen Elop, who gave the apathetic Nokia management and employees, frankly, a colossal wake-up call. He transformed Nokia from a dying company with crap symbian software (albeit well made phones) to one that has a very good chance of success as an infrastructure outfit. Now, within MSFT, there's a lot to do, but I suspect Elop can do wonders with the position, and fix the disjointed culture in the company and get it organized and where necessary, slimmed down. What frustrates me to watch is this endless search process. MSFT dithers and searches the ranks of auto executives and for all I know insurance companies and fast food moguls for the next "golden boy". I say, look within the company. As far as the Android - Windows thing, only time will tell, long term, how this will play out. The public is fickle. Me, I'd round the corners on those Windows phone icons - that would fix everything!
    4 Jan, 07:15 PM Reply Like
  • davidibanez
    , contributor
    Comments (103) | Send Message
     
    I also like Elop.
    25 Jan, 04:16 AM Reply Like
  • leopardtrader
    , contributor
    Comments (1049) | Send Message
     
    Stephen Elop likely the new CEO of MSFT after all said and done. My own opinion
    4 Jan, 07:51 PM Reply Like
  • techy46
    , contributor
    Comments (6202) | Send Message
     
    Probably but Tony Bates is who the employees really want.
    4 Jan, 08:31 PM Reply Like
  • George Anast, M.D.
    , contributor
    Comments (300) | Send Message
     
    Macbeth. Scene five, Act five
    4 Jan, 11:13 PM Reply Like
  • indiantrix
    , contributor
    Comments (3) | Send Message
     
    A high school classmate of mine (and President of MSFT circa 1990-1993) deserves another opportunity at the reins, now that Mssrs. Gates & Ballmer are bowing out of the picture. Michael R. Hallman brings leadership, character, IT savvy, business connections, and a work history that includes IBM (VP-National Sales) and BA (President-Boeing Computers). Mike's leadership at MSFT inspired the successful replacement of a failed WIN3.0 with the widely acclaimed WIN3.1. Today he sits on several boards (eg Intuit). If Mike's willing and available, I say "Make the Offer!" /s/ Larry Bruce
    5 Jan, 02:55 PM Reply Like
  • rdm@epeacedale.com
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
     
    Problem with Gates and Ballmer being on the board, are you kidding. They built the company.

     

    I agree we need a technical guy or gal as CEO.

     

    Bob M
    8 Jan, 09:03 AM Reply Like
  • George Anast, M.D.
    , contributor
    Comments (300) | Send Message
     
    I've got an idea. Why don't we elect CEO's rather than have the board go thru all that trouble selecting one? With all the interest from the Twitterati, Literati, Facebookians and Seeking Alphanarians, they could do a primary thing and come up with two candidates who could then campaign vigorously for a month and the have a monumental on-line election. Why not?

     

    Well there are several reasons. Firstly, in my exalted opinion, MSFT does not need reorganizing. Steve Ballmer has already done that, and any one with management experience knows that a re-org' takes time gel, often a year or two. That process is ongoing. Secondly, a certain amount of continuity is helpful in maintaining focus and keeping the company in the same business. Please recall the disaster at HP when the CEO decided to get out of the PC business, and for heaves' sake don't forget the Kabuki theater at Apple when John Scully was brought in from Pepsi Cola to run the nascent tech' giant, and almost destroyed it, and might have except for Steve Jobs.

     

    The idea that MSFT needs saving comes largely from the side-walk superintendents in the investment community. The company does not need saving, it needs steady leadership to keep the company on course an be able to spot the rocks and shoals in cyberspace. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer make good ballast to keep the ship upright, prevent capsizing.

     

    There will be a time when these two will not be needed, but that is several years in the future. Right now they can provide some continuity of thought, and both are wise enough to know that a new CEO needs freedom to innovate. The best the board can do it to be certain the company is not innovated out of business.
    26 Jan, 02:53 PM Reply Like
  • wil3714
    , contributor
    Comments (1915) | Send Message
     
    This argument becomes weaker and weaker since he's been selling shares for a decade
    26 Jan, 11:55 PM Reply Like
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