Gates-Ballmer Clash Shaped Handover

One of the most successful business partnerships in history was coming unraveled. It was early 2000, and Bill Gates had relinquished the chief executive's job at Microsoft Corp. to Steve Ballmer; for the first time taking a back seat to his college pal and right-hand man of 20 years. Mr. Ballmer got the title. But Mr. Gates retained the power, triggering a yearlong struggle between the two men that until now has remained largely under wraps.

Things became so bitter that, on one occasion, Mr. Gates stormed out of a meeting in a huff after a shouting match in which Mr. Ballmer jumped to the defense of several colleagues, according to an individual present at the time. The conflict between the two men paralyzed business-strategy decisions that the company still wrestles with today.

The differences between the two men ended, Mr. Gates and other Microsoft executives say, when in 2001 Mr. Gates had an epiphany, recognizing he needed to accept his role as No. 2. "I had to change," Mr. Gates says.

Link: WSJ

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18 Comments

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This explains a whole lot. Anyone reading the MiniMicrosoft blog (an anonymous MS insider) and the comments on the site would know that Microsoft has been tearing itself apart for several years now. Having worked for a company that behaved in a similar way, I have seen the destructive forces, when people start to concentrating on sillyness, rather than focusing on the core product or goal. It has happened many times in history. Great empires have come and gone, much as we seeing our global empire self destructing in front of our eyes. It's just the way humans are wired. As soon as we stop building, we destroy. :confused:

You guys missed another important revelation from the article.

It states that Microsoft had come up with the idea of Web based alternative to Microsoft Word as far back as 2001. That’s four years before the launch of Writely. Google later took over Writely (in 2006) and relaunched it as Google Docs. So, if Microsoft had gone through with their plans then they would have been ahead of their competition by quite a margin and possibly be market leaders today even in online Office Solutions.

What else is new? They're always missing the boat and then buying their way into the market later on. That way it's not as big a risk for them, and they have loads of cash to push their branding into a proven market (and the fast growth makes investors happy) so why not? It's how they roll.

I'm sorry, for some reason, Ballmer totally rubs me the wrong way... I mean, look at that guy! Has pedophile written all over him... Sorry, that's unfair to say.

(Burst404 said @ #6)
I'm sorry, for some reason, Ballmer totally rubs me the wrong way... I mean, look at that guy! Has pedophile written all over him... Sorry, that's unfair to say.

And libellous.

I'm sure like any CEO Gates would be upset watching Ballmer run it into the ground, and its only going to get better, or worse, depending who your rooting for.

The problem is the sales guy is running the company now, and it might not be a bad thing for the competitors. It might be what this world needs, which is for Microsoft to lose its dominance. Does the world need Microsoft to succeed? It's hard to say no since we are so used to doing things the Microsoft way for the last 15 years. But change can be good. Who knows, maybe Bill can change the world once again as a philanthropist. Don't underestimate this 52 year old nerd.

Oops! Microsoft earned it's dominance. If you want change, you don't have to wait around, simply open your eyes. There are lots of Microsoft haters out there that have systems and networks that they are proud to proclaim "Microsoft free".

All it takes is open eyes. Haven't you seen those commercials on TV?

(C_Guy said @ #4.1)
Oops! Microsoft earned it's dominance. If you want change, you don't have to wait around, simply open your eyes. There are lots of Microsoft haters out there that have systems and networks that they are proud to proclaim "Microsoft free".

All it takes is open eyes. Haven't you seen those commercials on TV?

You and your black & white dichotomy point of view on this.

I am "Microsoft free", yet I am not a "Microsoft hater". It is possible to not prefer something, yet not also hate it.

You, on the other hand, clearly seethe at the mention of certain companies, such as "Apple".

(C_Guy said @ #4.1)
Oops! Microsoft earned it's dominance. If you want change, you don't have to wait around, simply open your eyes. There are lots of Microsoft haters out there that have systems and networks that they are proud to proclaim "Microsoft free".

All it takes is open eyes. Haven't you seen those commercials on TV?

It's called "Licensing."

It's been Microsoft's ticket to Easy Street for longer than anyone can remember. It also tends to breed a galactic level of laziness after a period of time: Enter Microsoft from 2003 (Longhorn) to present day.

(C_Guy said @ #4.1)
Oops! Microsoft earned it's dominance. If you want change, you don't have to wait around, simply open your eyes. There are lots of Microsoft haters out there that have systems and networks that they are proud to proclaim "Microsoft free".

All it takes is open eyes. Haven't you seen those commercials on TV?


Thats not the point, the "Microsoft free" people are a very small percentage. I'm one of these peopel, always looking for the alternative. And even I find it difficult to stay completely MS free. As for most folks, I can't even convince some of my co-workers, friends, and family members to use Firefox instead of IE, never mind convincing them to switch OS and applications. MS products have their flaws, but they do work well for the most part. And people are used to their flaws, doing things the Microsoft way for the last 15 years, and refusing to change. It's part of why Vista adoption is slow, people are used to XP and are happy with it. Even with all its flaws, but XP works well enough that they don't want to invest in Vista unless they have to.

mmm interesting. I remember the video where bill was asked something like "what would you have changed" or something along those lines, and his response was clearly negative towards windows vista, although he didnt say it directly. I guess there's no doubt that he has a lot of power inside the company, but I wonder to what extent.

Understandable situation for Gates. You grow a company from the ground up and you'll be hard pressed to let it go so easy. I admire his understanding that he, "Needed to change". Hopefully all issues are or can be resolved in the near future as I'm sure they will. Both men have a deep respect for each other.

Interesting behind-the-scenes story. Not every transition is smooth as glass, but outward appearances that I have seen showed no signs of these kinds of issues.