You'd think they'd be grateful to the man that helped the long term ones build their fortunes, but it looks like some of the biggest investors in Microsoft don't want just Steve Ballmer to step down, but his pal and the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates himself.
While it seems clear at this point that neither the board of directors nor other investors are interested in pursuing this idea – despite the reasonable 5 per cent total number of shares held by the three investors pushing for Gates to end his time as the company's chairman – the reasoning behind the request is interesting. Similarly to how Ballmer is seen as somewhat old-guard in his approach and a potential stumbling block to future Microsoft direction changes, so too is Gates, according to the investors. They believe he would make the adoption of new strategies at the company difficult, especially with his influence over the choice of Ballmer's successor.
Gates does indeed have a lot of power, in his name alone and with his remaining shares, currently sitting around five per cent of the total. This is massively reduced from what it was and as Reuters points out, he sells a big chunk each year in order to fund his philanthropies. In just a few years time, his long standing stake in the company will be reduced to nothing, which makes you wonder why the investors don't just wait it out. It won't be long before the Gates' powerhouse sun has finally set over Microsoft.
Of course though, so too may Microsoft's influence on the industry. While it still makes over $20 billion a year in profit, its ability to predict and even dictate the way the industry is evolving its waning. Companies like Apple, Samsung and now with Gabe Newell's influence, the Linux Foundation are all nipping at traditionally very profitable fields for Microsoft; not to mention the ongoing rivalry in the console market from Sony and many others.
This is the argument being used by supporters of the investors, as a reason to get Gates out of there and replace him with new blood that will take the company in a new direction. That said, Ballmer's ideas for the near future have been relatively revolutionary for the Windows software maker. Having bought up Nokia's phone division, Microsoft will try to make a much bigger impact with its Windows phones and will also be focusing on creating more Software as a Service (SaaS) applications that are usable over the internet.
KitGuru Says: What do you guys think about Bill Gates? Being the age I am, I only really know him as the philanthropist he's become, but do any of you hanker for the days of Gates dominance at Microsoft?