Ex-Microsoft senior executive, Joachim Kempin, has written a tell all book that claims the software giant’s long standing CEO, Steve Ballmer, has mainly retained his position by ousting those that could potentially take over from him at some point in the future.
Describing the rise and fall of Microsoft COO Richard Belluzzo, a veteran of Hewlett Packard management and a man credited with launching the original Xbox, Kempin said: “He (Belluzzo) had no room to breathe on the top. When you work that directly with Ballmer and Ballmer believes ‘maybe this guy could someday take over from me’, my God, you will have less air to breathe, that’s what it comes down to.”
While we’ll have to take Kempin’s word for it here, one recent instance adds evidence to this claim. Steve Sinofsky, once thought to be a future leader of Microsoft, was let go in what was considered by outsiders as an internal power struggle and inability for Sinofsky to toe the company line.
Kempin also brought up the leaving of Ray Ozzie, who had taken over the role of chief software architect from Bill Gates in 2005. “Ozzie is a great software guy, he knew what he was doing. But when you see Steve (Ballmer) and him on stage where he (Ozzie) opposed Steve, it was Steve’s way or the highway.”
In his interview with Reuters, Kempin said of Ballmer: “Is he a great CEO? I don’t think so. Microsoft’s board is a lame duck board, has been forever. They hire people to help them administer the company, but not to lead the company. That’s the problem.”
KitGuru Says: What do you guys think, looking in from the outside? Does Ballmer seem like the kind of guy that would protect his own position over everything else, or is this an ex-employee with an axe to grind?