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Microsoft Businesses

Steve Ballmer's Head On the Block? 410

Posted by Roblimo
from the if-I-go-there-will-be-trouble dept.
mix77 writes "Influential hedge fund manager David Einhorn has called for Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer to step down, saying the world's largest software company's long-time leader is stuck in the past."
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Steve Ballmer's Head On the Block?

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  • Growth vs Returns (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RichMan (8097) on Friday May 27, 2011 @09:45AM (#36262170)

    Long ago Microsoft pwnd the planets desktop ecosystem space. After that, until we make contact with ET growth is going to naturally be limited. Microsoft should have transitioned from growth mode to stable mode and started paying out dividends to stock holders. The attempts to levarage into other markets are going to a) cost a lot and b) come under anti-trust scrutiny.
    There comes a point when a corporate giant should just be happy with what they have got and give up the raiding, and make their space the best it can be.

  • where a hedge fund manager made a change of management in a large publicly held company and that company got better?
  • Re:Finally... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 27, 2011 @09:59AM (#36262322)

    The most successful IT CEO in history "not much better." Interesting.

  • Re:Finally... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Elbowgeek (633324) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:01AM (#36262338) Journal

    The problem with Ballmer is that he's a strictly corporate type, with no real vision of his own. All of his decisions are informed by corporate thinking, which means he looks at already established and emerging markets and reacts to them. Unfortunately, by the time MS has created a product in reaction to the market the market is already dominated by someone else and/or the public rejects the MS product due to the perception of MS being uncool.

    MS has had very little forward-thinking tech make it to the mainstream in the past 20 years considering the size and and intellectual resources at its disposal, and I believe this is what Einhorn is addressing. What MS needs is a leader who can leverage the best and brightest in the company and allow the best ideas (and there's a lot of great ideas floating around in their labs) to see daylight and be marketed properly.

  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:11AM (#36262462)

    1. Bill Gates is Chairman of the Board of Directors

    2. Bill Gates is Microsoft's largest shareholder

    3. Steve Ballmer was Best Man at Bill Gates' wedding

    Unless Steve Ballmer gets hit by a bus, he isn't going anywhere.

  • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wisty (1335733) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:11AM (#36262466)

    The problem with Ballmer is that he's a strictly corporate type, with no real vision of his own. All of his decisions are informed by corporate thinking, which means he looks at already established and emerging markets and reacts to them.

    What the hell? That's all Microsoft has ever done. Copied DOS, copied Apple's copy of Xerox's work, copied Java, copied WordPerfect, copied that spreadsheet app ...

    Their only problem was, they stopped copying the right products, or copied them too late.

    Unfortunately, by the time MS has created a product in reaction to the market the market is already dominated by someone else and/or the public rejects the MS product due to the perception of MS being uncool.

    No, MS has a great image. Not amongst techies, but that's nothing new. Microsoft is seen as great by most people in education, small business, big business, and government. Bing didn't suffer for being "uncool". It suffers for being 10 years late, and having no way to lock people in.

    MS has had very little forward-thinking tech make it to the mainstream in the past 20 years considering the size and and intellectual resources at its disposal, and I believe this is what Einhorn is addressing. What MS needs is a leader who can leverage the best and brightest in the company and allow the best ideas (and there's a lot of great ideas floating around in their labs) to see daylight and be marketed properly.

    MS has made a lot of innovative stuff. Problem is, it gets killed by cross-fighting from established products. How does it fit in with Windows and Office's plans? It doesn't? Bye bye.

    They should just copy stuff, and not worry about synergies with their other knock-offs. Their main synergy is their stable of excellent engineers, testers, and managers; and their brand name.

  • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by whereiswaldo (459052) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:13AM (#36262496) Journal

    From what little I've seen and heard, his biggest problem is his temper. I can imagine the crappy ideas he's railroaded through by yelling at people, instead of getting them through on merit.

  • Re:Finally... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cozzbp (1845636) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:15AM (#36262516)
    Bill Gates' net worth $56 billion. Steve Jobs' net worth $8.3 billion. While Steve may be a marketing genius, it is clear who the more "successful" man is.
  • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by harperska (1376103) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:18AM (#36262560)

    Why so many people fail to grasp the difference between "first to do X" and "first to do X well" I will never understand. Yes, they innovate by taking concepts that others have thought of (tables, mp3 players, etc.) and merge them with a true forward-thinking vision to make something that people want.

  • Re:Finally... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:32AM (#36262806)

    What the hell? That's all Microsoft has ever done. Copied DOS, copied Apple's copy of Xerox's work, copied Java, copied WordPerfect, copied that spreadsheet app ...

    There's an interesting double standard (not necessarily held by the person I'm responding to) that when Microsoft copies someone else's work and improves on it it's copying or unoriginal, but when, say, Apple does it it's innovation.

  • Re:Finally... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BrokenHalo (565198) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:34AM (#36262828)

    but philanthropy and plutocratic excess are, equally, signals of money that isn't being invested in R&D or being left in customers' hands with lower prices...

    Although I have no particular fondness for Bill Gates, it's fair to say that his money is his own, and he is entitled to do whatever he pleases with it. Neither the corporation he founded, nor its shareholders have any claim on it, and he is under no obligation to ask for your opinion on the matter.

  • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:47AM (#36263002) Journal

    Microsoft has been behind the pack consistently over the last twenty years. Instead of innovation, it had market clout. It nearly missed the boat on the Internet, and its solution was to repackage the Windows for Workgroups TCP/IP package into Chicago/Win95, making possibly the worst TCP/IP stack in the history of networking. It only overcame WordPerfect in the office world because WP stumbled badly over its Windows version. The same applies to Lotus (although rumors still float about that Lotus's failure were hardly all Lotus's fault). The browser war it won by giving away IE, but even with near-total dominance in the browser world for a decade, it still couldn't get its various iterations of MSN web presence to catch on, and in fact, basically let its browser team almost wither and die and did nothing. Yes, it had its dominance with Office-Exchange, and certainly I give it credit for Active Directory (although its not that innovative, just a variant of LDAP with some automated registry alteration built into), but look at Exchange, it's a fucking behemoth, massively overlarge and difficult to maintain.

    But the mobile/tablet world is killing it. It's so far behind the big players it really isn't worth mentioning. Apple and Google are kicking ass right left and centre. As to web presence, well, Google is still champion and Microsoft continues to flounder, which only adds to the disaster that it's facing in the home market. It still has its business/corporate market and there I suspect it will remain dominant, but now that smartphones, subnotebooks and tablets appear poised to gut a good chunk of the PC market (even Intel is figuring out it's got to start building chips here), Microsoft is about to lose a huge chunk of that linkage between PC, operating system and office software that has made it king since the 1980s.

    Microsoft needs new leadership badly. It needs someone willing to decouple its business and development divisions from Windows, to port Outlook to ARM-based operating systems, and not just move Windows into a market that it has little enough ability to penetrate. It has to admit that the way that it became supreme 25 years ago is gone, rather than just smacking its head against the same old wall.

  • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by paimin (656338) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:53AM (#36263064)
    So, by your argument, Apple beat Palm solely based on superior marketing and not based on any innovation in the iPhone's design versus Palm's offerings at the time. This is completely and utterly false. The iPhone defined smartphone design NOT because of marketing but because the design was in fact extremely innovative. People like you look at feature lists and say "this one did it first" or "this one is better than that one". Where you fail is that design and engineering !== feature lists.
  • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:56AM (#36263098)

    If Apple's only real strength was marketing then they would have failed long ago. Apple's modus operandi since Jobs came back isn't rocket science. Take geek gadget. Polish and refine it so that average consumers don't need to refer to a manual to use it then sell as many as they can.

    Marketing isn't MS only problem. The Kin was a buggy dumb phone with smart phone prices. This was at the estimated cost of over a $1 billion before they killed it. The Zune was decent but was always behind the iPod and didn't offer many compelling reasons to switch. Again a few billion dollars down the drain. The Xbox has great market share but it has a long way to recover the billions it lost in the first years of its existence.

    MS still makes tons of profit on OS and Office. Their expansions into other markets have not been financially successful. Investors want growth.

  • Re:Finally... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by a_nonamiss (743253) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:58AM (#36263124)
    You seem to really buy into the concept that the sole measure of success is how much money a person has in his or her bank account. It must be comforting to have such a narrow view of the world that a person's entire life can be reduced to one series of numbers that is greater than another series of numbers. Never mind that study after study has shown that money has virtually no effect (or even a negative effect) on stress and personal happiness. Also never mind the fact that $8.3 billion is more money than a single human could ever possibly spend on material goods in his or her lifetime. But $56 billion is more, so I guess Bill Gates is the winner!
  • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Friday May 27, 2011 @11:20AM (#36263444)

    Jobs has headed 3 companies to success: Apple (2 different occasions), Next and Pixar. Gates on the other hand is a one-trick pony.

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