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Microsoft investors push for Bill Gates defenestration: report

No Chairman Bill, no Ballmer really would be a post-PC world

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Three Microsoft investors that collectively own more than five per cent of the company are lobbying to fire founder Bill Gates from his role as Chairman.

The Reuters report containing the news doesn't name the investors but says they are worried that Gates' influence as Chairman is disproportionate to his current 4.5 per cent stake in the company.

The investors are also worried that Gates is helping to recruit ousted CEO Steve Ballmer.

That worry seems legitimate: when Gates stepped down from Microsoft he effectively replaced himself with Ray Ozzie, a chap no-one had a bad word for but who was born in the same year as Gates and therefore had many of the same formative computing experiences. Were Gates to lobby for a Ballmer replacement with similar heritage investors could feel nervous that Microsoft senior leadership is too rooted in the past.

If Reuters' report is correct, it suggests investors' desire for change at Microsoft weren't satisfied by Steve Ballmer stepping aside.

That attitude is perversely, good news for Microsoft. Any public company's primary duty is to enhance shareholder value. That investors want more change at the company suggests they believe current management is not capable of enhancing shareholder value … but that the value is there to be found.

The cold financial calculus behind such thinking means little for those who feel that Gates contribution to the computing industry and to Microsoft are enormous.

Microsoft may have made many a mis-step but the company's audacious early goal of putting a PC into every home came to fruition, bringing with it incalculable change, most of it for the good. ®

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