Steve Ballmer needs to go, claims hedge fund manager

A top and influential hedge fund manager, David Einhorn, has been openly critical of Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, calling for the CEO to step down after years of stagnant stock values. Einhorn said that Ballmer was stuck in the past and needed to step aside to “give someone else a chance” after taking the role from co-founder Bill Gates in 2000. "His continued presence is the biggest overhang on Microsoft's stock," he said.

Einhorn’s company, Greenlight Capital in which he is President, holds around 9 million Microsoft shares which totals around 0.11% of the entire company, according to Reuters. These calls for stepping down are most likely due to Microsoft’s poor stock performance, where $100,000 of Microsoft stock 10 years ago are now worth $69,000, and also due to Microsoft failing to “attack new Internet and mobile computing markets.”

Tuesday saw Microsoft overtaken by IBM in overall market value for the first time in 15 years due to the poor stock performance. Last year also saw Microsoft get fiercely overtaken by Apple, which now claims the world’s most valuable tech company. Einhorn implies that without Ballmer at the reigns of Microsoft, the tech giant would be able to slowly regain some of its lost market positioning.

Currently it appears as though Ballmer has no plans to step down; however after criticism by an influential investor and poor stock performance this could be the start of shareholders’ desire for a new Microsoft CEO.

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Ive never met Steve Balmer. But ive seen videos and such on him.
Impressions is quite histerical.
Basically, i think that he is a funny guy...And i think that at times he can be serious (like that rumor where he threw an iphone er chair?)...
But i think that because of his inability to stand above his employees as a role model or an enforcer is the reason why products that MS are introducing are taking longer to come to market.......
However, i do think that things are speeding up. Recently ive loved every product they've released (recently**)...I mean when he released Vista i really had a hard time thinking they were going to succeed. ....

Anyways, i think Balmer has learned from his mistakes in the past...If their was a new CEO -PLEASE LET HIM BE SERIOUS AND HARD, and let him be an enforcer to the companies success. I hope we dont get someone who doesnt know what they are doing...thats a nightmare.

(i think i will invest sooner rather than later, why has their stock only been at 25$ish for this long?! crazy!)

I don't know what is with MS... they just seem to make stupid decisions. I think they have the ability to produce and market just about anything you could dream of... and they start working on all sorts of cool products only to drop them or chop them down to nothing... for the past decade there seems to be nothing but disappointment from MS. Windows 7, the WP7 and the future with W8 seems to be bright, but now they need to leverage that success with some interesting hardware. I still wish they had gone through with that notebook/tablet they showed last year. It looked brilliant.

I disagree and think most people on the outside don't know what they are talking about. Steve Ballmer is one of the most passionate CEOs I've ever seen, and that's a good thing. Microsoft is between cycles on nearly all products right now. Windows 7 has been out a while, Xbox 360 has been out a while, etc. Let's see what happens after Windows 8 and go from there. I have no reason to believe Ballmer needs to leave right now.

AJerman said,
I disagree and think most people on the outside don't know what they are talking about.

Most people don't know what they are talking about but you do ...

XBox 360 would be a good product ... if it did not break as much as it did. It might not be hurting right now but eventually it will if Sony put its head out of its ...

LaP said,

Most people don't know what they are talking about but you do ...

XBox 360 would be a good product ... if it did not break as much as it did. It might not be hurting right now but eventually it will if Sony put its head out of its ...


troll much? The RROD problem has been fixed for a while now even for older design.

Criticism coming from a hedge fund manager... yeah right. Ballmer may be great but 2 things are certain:
1. Never take advise from pimps of the financial industry (hedge fund managers)
2. Microsoft has yet to make a loss under Ballmer.
3. Who you gonna put to run a $100B company?
I'll stick with Balmer for now until anyone can come with a better person that can focus on the myriad of products that this company makes.

vhaakmat said,

1. Never take advise from pimps of the financial industry (hedge fund managers)

HAHAHA, never thought about it that way, but yeah, hedge fund managers love to acquire and spin-off companies to no ones gain but their own.

I don't see how a change will make anything different. They were just the same under Bill Gates except he liked to talk more about technical stuff. They are still the same old Microsoft albeit with a nicer selection of products.

I, on the other hand, wouldn't give a rat's a*s, who's CEO and how it influences stock price. That rigged Wall Street sh*t doesn't bother me as long as production line keeps rolling and there's a revenue from doing that. MS has had it all the time.
Many people actually deserve a chair thrown in their face, so the "dancing monkey" is the guy for the job.

I don't believe Ballmer is doing badly now; the mistakes were made a few years ago by dismissing the importance of smartphones and tablets. But he lost credibility and he does not give a corporate image that transpires talent and innovation. He would be a great CFO, making partnerships and acquisitions happen, but the traditional role of the CEO being the spokesperson does not work. Microsoft needs a spokesperson that can bring fun and excitement to the announcements of new products and sell the company's strenght, which is, working with others. Other companies such as Apple have more control over all processes and therefore can bring innovation faster, because they don't have to coordinate with anybody, they don't have to care about compatiblity with existing hardware and software. But Apple has trouble working with others and eventually some competitor catches up. Microsoft works in coordination with thousands of hardware and software makers and in coordination with itself and previous products. This makes it more difficult to materialize innovation into a product fast, but when they finally come up with the product, it is very well integrated, documented and supported. In this sense, MS resembles Cisco. But we know from MS Research and from its intellectual property portfolio the many innovative ideas they have. In some rare cases, when MS has control of both software and hardware, some great innovation materializes fast, like Kinect. So Microsoft has to be more showy, stop being the silent giant, show the innovation, then surprisingly announce availability immediately. But it is difficult, because there are so many 3rd parties involved that when MS works on something, it leaks and then when they announce it months after, we are just tired of hearing about it. Apple and Google are still in their honeymoon, but if you have to choose which company is best positioned, strategically, to dominate the new era of computing, that is Microsoft. They own the best cloud services, most used IM, most used video IM (Skype), they own their own search engine, own maps (have with Nokia deal, they get Ovi Maps too), they are tightly integrated with the premier social network, Facebook, plus linkedin, yahoo, myspace, yelp. All this integration and ability to work with others is what makes possible the consolidation of services and information in a consistent UI, like we see in Windows Phone "Mango" demos. Microsoft also owns the most used desktop OS, office applications, corporate servers, gaming console and software developing tools. They also have extremely great partnerships with OEMs. Other competitors lack in more that one of these areas. So if we see the chess board, the positioning of all MS pieces is killer, all the need to do is execute the strategy and don't make mistakes. As for MS spokesperson, I suggest Steven Sinofsky, and keep Ballmer only to make partnerships.

I'm no fan of Steve Ballmer but it's one thing to see him resign or be removed by the board, sure the stock price might rise on that announcement alone but the reality is, it would soon fall back. Who the hell do you replace him with?

This is no ordinary software company; this is a huge, huge HUGE deal. Unless Bill came back (all is forgiven), I really can't see anyone with big enough cahonies to sit at the helm except the arch enemy tech devil incarnate Steve Jobs which would never happen (would it?).

Microsoft doesn't need another salesman or marketing man. They actually need all those things combined with an uber tech creative visionary who can inspire, dream and motivate employees to create beautiful things whilst wowing the markets and industry with business acumen and strong leadership.

Sometimes I think that Microsoft's biggest issues is with poor marketing strategy (almost too much money to spend naval gazing) coupled with an overload of corporate oversell which is designed to assure big business and somehow trying to attract the hip and trendy consumer. Just consider the way in which Microsoft names some of its products like there was *no* alternative, remember perhaps the longest SKU product name in history - ‘Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate UPGRADE Limited Numbered Signature Edition'? Really, is there anything less inspiring and more stupid? Well actually it gets worse, how about ‘Microsoft IntelliSense XML Files for Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office System Solution Developers'! Search for it, it's real.

I think Steve B should stay whilst someone internally is groomed to take over, piece by piece over time, in the same way that Bill departed. An outsider, I don't think, will work and would probably signal the death of MS.

CtrlShift said,
I'm no fan of Steve Ballmer but it's one thing to see him resign or be removed by the board, sure the stock price might rise on that announcement alone but the reality is, it would soon fall back. Who the hell do you replace him with?

This is no ordinary software company; this is a huge, huge HUGE deal. Unless Bill came back (all is forgiven), I really can't see anyone with big enough cahonies to sit at the helm except the arch enemy tech devil incarnate Steve Jobs which would never happen (would it?).

Microsoft doesn't need another salesman or marketing man. They actually need all those things combined with an uber tech creative visionary who can inspire, dream and motivate employees to create beautiful things whilst wowing the markets and industry with business acumen and strong leadership.

Sometimes I think that Microsoft's biggest issues is with poor marketing strategy (almost too much money to spend naval gazing) coupled with an overload of corporate oversell which is designed to assure big business and somehow trying to attract the hip and trendy consumer. Just consider the way in which Microsoft names some of its products like there was *no* alternative, remember perhaps the longest SKU product name in history - ‘Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate UPGRADE Limited Numbered Signature Edition'? Really, is there anything less inspiring and more stupid? Well actually it gets worse, how about ‘Microsoft IntelliSense XML Files for Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office System Solution Developers'! Search for it, it's real.

I think Steve B should stay whilst someone internally is groomed to take over, piece by piece over time, in the same way that Bill departed. An outsider, I don't think, will work and would probably signal the death of MS.

With Bill you had just Windows and Office, he is software only guy. With Ballmer you got Xbox, Windows Phone, Bing, Kinect and more.

FoxieFoxie said,

With Bill you had just Windows and Office, he is software only guy. With Ballmer you got Xbox, Windows Phone, Bing, Kinect and more.

There was a bit more than just Windows and Office in Bill's day but it's not about how many products can you (eventually) bring to market. But since you mentioned a few, Xbox was in response to the dominance of Nintendo Sega and Sony; Windows Phone as we know was a complete reboot and is two years late and still playing catch-up (badly); Bing is costing MS more in revenue than some entire national economies; Kinect has the cool factor, no doubt about it but can you really trust MS to innovate with it like say Apple or Google could?

My point is that simply throwing products at the market in every technology sector does not a successful company make. Apple doesn't have anywhere near the number of products to sell, yet it is now more successful, more profitable, how is that? I don't have the answers here - at least with Steve, the ship is seemingly steady and the big cash cows continue to reign in big bucks but for how much longer, who knows. I hope MS are thinking about the future without Steve now and are putting in place a succession strategy to compete with the Apples and Googles or tomorrow, it's perhaps the most critical personnel transition second only to the US presidential election!

CtrlShift said,

There was a bit more than just Windows and Office in Bill's day but it's not about how many products can you (eventually) bring to market. But since you mentioned a few, Xbox was in response to the dominance of Nintendo Sega and Sony; Windows Phone as we know was a complete reboot and is two years late and still playing catch-up (badly); Bing is costing MS more in revenue than some entire national economies; Kinect has the cool factor, no doubt about it but can you really trust MS to innovate with it like say Apple or Google could?

My point is that simply throwing products at the market in every technology sector does not a successful company make. Apple doesn't have anywhere near the number of products to sell, yet it is now more successful, more profitable, how is that? I don't have the answers here - at least with Steve, the ship is seemingly steady and the big cash cows continue to reign in big bucks but for how much longer, who knows. I hope MS are thinking about the future without Steve now and are putting in place a succession strategy to compete with the Apples and Googles or tomorrow, it's perhaps the most critical personnel transition second only to the US presidential election!


i'd say give Ballmer untill mid-end 2012 to give him a chance if the new Microsoft Tactic is working or not.They changed course after Vista and are still changing their course. It will need time before it can show off its results.

He should have been shown the door long ago. If not after the the first chair was thrown, most definitely after the sweaty brothel dance in a public venue. Most CEO's offer a more professional public appearance than this has been.

Way to pass the buck, man. Although I tend to agree with the guy, I still say we all take a walk down Wall Street and knock on this guy's door to get our money back. Damn scum. He shouldn't have voting rights let alone an opinion.

While I don't like him and think he's too detached from reality and what's needed of this company, I think he should be given one more year with the Windows Phone series to prove himself.

Office 2007/10 and Windows 7 were big hits and although much of that can be attributed to Sinofsky rather than Ballmer, he's still the guy in charge of those teams. I can understand if his lack of success in the online and mobile business is worrying investors though. It's definitely not good to run an online division with huge losses* even today, when that business is so important today.

* = http://www.adotas.com/2011/04/...microsofts-online-division/

computerwizkid said,
The only dude I think could replace him is Steven Sinofsky.

I agree, Sinofsky is the first the comes to my mind too. But I doubt that he will become the next CEO...

Surely most people agree, that Microsoft seem to do too little too late these days.

Don't get me wrong, they do have some great products, but you would expect that after many years of development ensuing such vast market presence.

For a company of that size, they do need to do things differently then they have been. So it's my belief and opinion that Steve's days are numbered.

When were they last really innovative?!?!?

mrpcpete said,
Surely most people agree, that Microsoft seem to do too little too late these days.

Don't get me wrong, they do have some great products, but you would expect that after many years of development ensuing such vast market presence.

For a company of that size, they do need to do things differently then they have been. So it's my belief and opinion that Steve's days are numbered.

When were they last really innovative?!?!?


They still are, most just doesnt leave their Research labs, or just get absorbed by an excisting product.

Ballmer, for all intents and purposes, is an old school businessman. On its own that's not a bad thing. Unfortunately, a technology company like Microsoft is not the place for him. IBM? Sure. Microsoft or Apple? Not so much. I mean, Steve Jobs was an excellent CEO. I don't like Jobs very much, and I'll admit that. His strategy was brilliant. They need an innovator at the helm, not necessarily a businessman, although if you could find someone who is both...

xen0blade said,
Ballmer, for all intents and purposes, is an old school businessman. On its own that's not a bad thing. Unfortunately, a technology company like Microsoft is not the place for him. IBM? Sure. Microsoft or Apple? Not so much. I mean, Steve Jobs was an excellent CEO. I don't like Jobs very much, and I'll admit that. His strategy was brilliant. They need an innovator at the helm, not necessarily a businessman, although if you could find someone who is both...

thats why bill gates should come back. together they brought MS to world domination.

Shadowzz said,

thats why bill gates should come back. together they brought MS to world domination.
A company being over-reliant on one person, like Steve Jobs with Apple, is not a good thing.

I also think MS should let him go. Personally I feel he's too focused on the technlogy itself, rather than the big picture. Especially noticable at the PDC keynotes. Compare them to Bill Gate's and you will notice a big difference.

So maybe the stock holders aren't happy, but their lineup is better than it ever was: windows 7, office 2010, windows phone 7, internet explorer 9, xbox 360...
Though I guess their online services are still not as agood as the competition (ie: "windows live" is a mess)
But then again, I'm not a stock holder.

Julius Caro said,
So maybe the stock holders aren't happy, but their lineup is better than it ever was: windows 7, office 2010, windows phone 7, internet explorer 9, xbox 360...
Though I guess their online services are still not as agood as the competition (ie: "windows live" is a mess)
But then again, I'm not a stock holder.

Arrr! I want money money money money.

I hate American capitalism so much. If it cost less to use slaves to manufacture computers, I am sure they would do it. Oh, wait... they do. Foxconn.

I agree. Microsoft have been playing catch-up for far too long. They need to become a more innovative company (or hire the best damn marketing team in existence).

thetoaster3 said,
I agree. Microsoft have been playing catch-up for far too long. They need to become a more innovative company (or hire the best damn marketing team in existence).

Have you checked their revenue statements?

FoxieFoxie said,

Have you checked their revenue statements?


I never disputed they were making money, but other companies are growing a lot faster than they are. Just look at Apple's growth compared to Microsoft over the past 10 years.

thetoaster3 said,

I never disputed they were making money, but other companies are growing a lot faster than they are. Just look at Apple's growth compared to Microsoft over the past 10 years.

Apple has 2-3 products
Microsoft has dozens of products, research centers, etc. etc.

Oh, and Apple is a hardware company, did you know? Why don't we compare Microsoft with Coca Cola, because they have so much in common.

Their products just don't jump out anymore.. they definitely need more innovation, people buy microsoft because they have to, it's standard, it's all they know... their products dont generally have the 'must have' factor, but more 'i have it because it's there'

FoxieFoxie said,

Apple has 2-3 products
Microsoft has dozens of products, research centers, etc. etc.

Oh, and Apple is a hardware company, did you know? Why don't we compare Microsoft with Coca Cola, because they have so much in common.


Comparing Microsoft with Apple isn't like comparing an orange with an.. um, apple.

In many of the fields Apple operate in, they have/had a competitor in Microsoft and the point you raise about Apple having far fewer products I think is quite interesting. They have far fewer products yet have greater revenue than MS. If MS had done a better job in taking some of the market share in the fields where it is currently losing big time against Apple (and Google for that matter), perhaps its stock would be performing better.

Uplift said,
Their products just don't jump out anymore.. they definitely need more innovation, people buy microsoft because they have to, it's standard, it's all they know... their products dont generally have the 'must have' factor, but more 'i have it because it's there'

Yea people weren't going crazy for Kinect. Which is a better seller than the iPad.

thetoaster3 said,

I never disputed they were making money, but other companies are growing a lot faster than they are. Just look at Apple's growth compared to Microsoft over the past 10 years.

you do know that the only reason for Apple's growth is thanks to Microsoft's bailout?

Uplift said,
Their products just don't jump out anymore.. they definitely need more innovation, people buy microsoft because they have to, it's standard, it's all they know... their products dont generally have the 'must have' factor, but more 'i have it because it's there'

Mothafuh! Stop using that word incorrectly! Microsoft is so innovative they don't even know what to do with themselves. The problem is not innovation, they just are unable to hype people. People get all excited about a little search box and flashy animations on OS X, but with Windows you have to make a complete overhaul of everything to basically get the attention of anyone. People get so excited about Android, but no one gets excited about Windows Phone (I do, I love it. But I mean the general populace). THE problem is hype, and not what the product is. They are unable to create hype, thats all.

LukeEmery said,

Mothafuh! Stop using that word incorrectly! Microsoft is so innovative they don't even know what to do with themselves. The problem is not innovation, they just are unable to hype people. People get all excited about a little search box and flashy animations on OS X, but with Windows you have to make a complete overhaul of everything to basically get the attention of anyone. People get so excited about Android, but no one gets excited about Windows Phone (I do, I love it. But I mean the general populace). THE problem is hype, and not what the product is. They are unable to create hype, thats all.


or maybe general public just no longer able to perceive any innovation from Microsoft just because they were (or still) stuck with their older products for too long. so there is a stereotype and it's hard to get rid of it.

Shadowzz said,

you do know that the only reason for Apple's growth is thanks to Microsoft's bailout?

Also, don't forget that MS gave a lot of money (around $150 million) to Apple. Apple was sinking faster than Titanic. If it weren't for MS, Apple would be dead.

Shadowzz said,
you do know that the only reason for Apple's growth is thanks to Microsoft's bailout?

I thought that was a private thing from BillG and not an official MS bailout.
Ah, I could be wrong.

I say let him last until the end of the year, and then see where MS is at. Theoretically, they could have tablet offerings, real iPhone competition, and a great 3-screen strategy. And if that isn't going to boost stock value, I don't know what will.

But if it doesn't pan out, he should choose to spend more time with his family

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dvb2000 said,
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dvb2000 said,
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