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August 23, 2013


Steve Ballmer to resign as Microsoft CEO

by Master Pillow

News has broken this morning that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has unexpectedly announced his retirement causing shares to surge 6-7% in morning trading.  Ballmer has been at the helm since January 2000 when he took over from Bill Gates but his tenure has certainly been decidedly mixed with equal parts success such as the launch of Windows 7 and outright failures like the Kin line of smartphones.

Even though I spend more time on this blog talking about movies and video games than business/leadership people should not link this news with the Xbox One debacle as this is more the result of his entire past work and the fact that the once great company has been supplanted as the tech leader by both Apple and Google.

Ballmer presided over a company that completed missed the shift to mobile computing and was slow to turn things around in releasing Windows Phone 7 so much so that it led to Android and iOS dominance.  At the same time Microsoft sat idly by while Apple started the tablet revolution with the iPad even though Microsoft had been in the space for years albeit with limited success.

Microsoft is still a hugely profitable company but much of that has to do with past success and the fact that it has a stranglehold in the business space with its line of products like Windows, Microsoft Office and SQL Server.

With the exception of the Xbox the company has had a hard time bringing new products to the market with huge success.  Windows 8 is selling fine but the perception is that it is more in line with Windows Vista rather than Windows 7 while Windows Phone 8 is continuing to struggle.  Windows 8, specifically Windows 8 RT, has been a failure and Microsoft had to take a $900 million hit in the last quarter due to sluggish sales.

Ballmer has announced that he will retire within the next twelve months but that a special committee has already been formed to start the process of finding the next CEO.  It goes without saying that whoever is chosen is going to have to work hard to re-organize and re-orient the massive company to better compete in the marketplace.

I am no big fan of Steve Ballmer but the tech world will be losing one seriously “animated” character as he has been known to go slightly “bonkers” during his presentations such as this infamous example:

How about Ballmer pitching good old Windows 1.0?

Still, I’ll always remember Bill Gates and Ballmer like this:

© 2013 The Galactic Pillow

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Rei
    Aug 24 2013

    Good riddance! Should have happened years ago. Microsoft’s always been rather disorderly, and without a leader that understands the technology, it’s no surprise that they’d been repeatedly cruising off cliffs ever since Bill left. You know you’re out of touch when a product like Xbox One loses nearly all of its market share almost entirely due to ethical concerns alone.

    As a .NET developer, Ballmer frustrated me to no end with his utter lack of direction. Apparently I wasn’t alone in this either; Microsoft is in Glassdoor’s 2012 top 25 companies to work for, and Ballmer’s approval rating by employees is by far the lowest of all the CEOs in the list:

    Also, how’ve you been?

    • Master Pillow
      Sep 2 2013

      Great to hear from you again, Rei! You’d be pleased to know that your ME3 article still gets a few hits per day even after all this time. It really goes to show you that the controversy hasn’t truly dissipated yet. I’m not sure when the last time was that you went there but there are a few new comments at the bottom of the article.

      As for Steve Ballmer this is a truly welcomed move that should have been done long ago. Ballmer might have been a decent number two to Bill Gates but he’s had more misses than hits during his tenure and there is no doubting that he led the company nowhere as it stagnated for a decade. In the meantime both Apple and Google have taken the IT crown away leaving Microsoft to wallow in their wakes.

      I wrote a pretty negative article a while ago calling out Ballmer for his total lack of leadership during the entire Xbox One debacle and as you mentioned it is truly mind-boggling that what should have been a slam dunk launch has turned into a “claw your way back to the starting line” damage control strategy. I’m still buying both the Xbox One and PS4 but it certainly looks as if virtually all the diehard video game fans are siding with Sony this time around.

      I still think that Microsoft can win but under Ballmer’s leadership they’ve dug a massive hole for themselves and unlike years past they can’t merely throw money at the problem hoping that it will go away.

      I know a few people who work at Microsoft and they genuinely like the company but I get the feeling that Ballmer really has no clue how to lead Microsoft into the future. I hope that the board takes as long as they need to vet all the potential candidates and picks someone who has a clear vision how the “new” Microsoft will compete.

      At the same time they still have a strong enough base in Windows/Office that the company can rely on but it can’t last forever as all their core products are under threat. Launching buggy products or completely missing the boat in industry trends is a path to disaster so hopefully the new leader can align the company back to becoming a true innovator instead of merely following everyone else.


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