Feeds

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

Skype was not the answer

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Microsoft exits climate denier lobby group
ALEC will have to do without Redmond, it seems
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
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.