Should Ballmer Leave Microsoft?
June 16, 2006 Leave a comment
It seems that Business 2.0 thinks so. From the article:
Since Gates stepped down as CEO in 2000 in favor of Ballmer, the company has floundered technically and strategically. As the company's chairman, chief software architect and supposed visionary, Gates deserves blame for missing the wave of Web-based software that has propelled Google and Yahoo.
But Ballmer has made gaffes of his own in his longtime role as head of the company's business side. They include an undistinguished push into business applications to compete with Oracle, financial maneuvers that have failed to stir the stock – which has slumped 16 percent so far this year – and continuing antitrust problems in the United States and Europe.
Not a very flattering summation. I asked if Bill and Steve were holding the company back about 18 months ago. So what do I think now? With Bill phasing himself out, the company is at a crossroads. I don't think they can turn the corner with the current CEO in place. He has the old Microsoft too ingrained in him and I don't think he'll allow the company to grow in the directions it needs to in order to turn itself around. I think it's clear at this point that he probably should step down in the next two years, but somehow I don't think the hubris will let him. I'd guess he sincerely thinks he can turn things around. Whether that will change as the two years wear on remains to be seen.
The question that arises from there is, if he does step down who will take his place. The odds are on one of the two Kevin's. Kevin Turner, the COO, seems like the most favored at this point. The fact that an ex Walmart exec may become the CEO of Microsoft is absolutely stunning to me. From the reports I've read of the moves he's made since coming aboard, this one seems like a bad choice to me. They already have morale problems and he just seem to be exacerbating them. I don't know enough about the situation to know why he's the favorite, but on the surface it doesn't make sense on a couple levels. Kevin Johnson, co-president of Microsoft's Platform and Services division, is a long time Microsoftie (which at this point I don't know if that's for or against him) and seems like a better fit. With Ozzie and Mundie filling Bill's shoes, the short list seems to end there. Dare they go outside the company for a replacement? I doubt it, but then again I guess it depends on just how long Ballmer stays.
Microsoft, MSFT, Steve Ballmer