Feeds

Ballmer: Time up for 'stuck in the past' Microsoft CEO?

Skype was not the answer

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Saved by the Bill, for now

He's also more than some anonymous portfolio jockey or every day stock analyst: Einhorn is feted as the person who rumbled Lehman Bros as being under-capitalized and over exposed.

Is the clock finally ticking on Ballmer?

Earlier this year, the FT reported rumblings on Microsoft's board about Ballmer's leadership. "He is coming under greater pressure [from the board] to raise the company's game," the FT claimed.

Only, it seems, Skype wasn't what the board exactly had in mind and it took Bill Gates, a fellow board member, to swing for Ballmer and help convince the others to approve the deal. Gates' comments reveal Ballmer was alone on the board over Skype, and that it took the considerable influence of Gates to sway people.

Until Skype, Ballmer was reasonably safe. While the stock's not going north, he is CEO of a company that makes more than $60bn a year. At $8.5bn and with a board clearly not 100 per cent behind Skype, Ballmer's now out on an even bigger limb than before when he didn't buy Yahoo! and when he laughed off Apple's iPhone that Microsoft is now trying to copy.

"Spending $8.5bn in cash on a loss making web telco based on a theory of making money will be Ballmer's last role of the dice"

With an online business stuck in the red and with Microsoft spending billions just to catch up in search and on mobile phones, $8.5bn in cash punted on a loss making web telco based on a theory of making money will be Ballmer's last role of the dice.

That said, Einhorn's comments at this stage are more annoyance than problem. Greenlight holds just nine million shares in Microsoft, or 0.11 per cent of outstanding stock, according to Thomson Reuters, a fact that means Greenlight lacks the power to actually oust Ballmer should it wish to.

At Sun Microsystems, when Southeastern Asset Management decided it was time for a change, it increased its ownership stake from 17 per cent to 22 per cent, to become Sun's single biggest shareholder. From there, Southeastern secured the appointment of two new board members to the old 11-man board, and shortly after Sun was put up for sale.

Greenlight could also become active: it could rally other disgruntled shareholders – of which there are many – and they or Greenlight could mobilize to increase their share ownership to force the changes they want – just like Southeastern Asset Management at Sun.

Potential allies are waiting in the wings. The Crandrea Group had attempted a grassroots shareholder activism movement before but that came to nothing. According to Crandera, it's not given up. "We have been engaged in other projects that have consumed time and attention," it said. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.