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Some top investors and former employees are calling for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's resignation.   (Source: Reuters)

IBM on Tuesday past Microsoft in market cap for the first time in decades. Some perceive Microsoft as a "dying" brand.  (Source: Silicon Angle)
No more "Developers, developers, developers"? Top investors demand Ballmer step down

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has always had his critics.  His hard-nosed style of management offended some, as did his colorful personality.  But criticism of the CEO, who replaced Bill Gates in 2000 for the position, has been mounting of late as the company has struggled in certain sectors -- like smartphones and tablets -- and made questionable decisions, as well -- like purchasing video messaging service Skype at nearly twice its market valuation.

At a financial summit -- the Ira Sohn Investment Research Conference -- in New York on Wednesday, David Einhorn, an influential hedge fund star and manager of a fund at Greenlight Capital, delivered harsh words for Microsoft's boisterous chief.

He commented, "[G]ive someone else a chance.   His [Ballmer's] continued presence is the biggest overhang on Microsoft's stock."

Mr. Einhorn has vested interest in the company's success.  He recently executed a large purchase of the company's stock.  His firm now owns 9 million shares, or about 0.11 percent of the company's total shares.

While some properties like the Xbox console and the Windows 7 operating system have been well received and sold great, investors have largely focused on the company's misses.  CNN Money last year carried a scathing editorial in which it suggested that Microsoft was "dying".

With stock worth under 10 times the company's earnings, Microsoft shares are considered undervalued.  But not everyone is purchasing due to the cloud of doubts hanging over the company.

Last year Microsoft was notably passed in market cap by a familiar old foe -- Apple, Inc. (AAPL).  While many jeered at this news, Apple has since somewhat silenced critics by passing Microsoft on quarterly profits.  On Tuesday further concerns were raised when lumbering old giant International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) passed Microsoft in market cap for the first time in decades.

After years on top of the tech industry in stock, revenue, and profits, Microsoft is finding itself fading from the race.  Does that require a major leadership shift?  Some argue that it does.



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Not sure it matters...
By Motoman on 5/26/2011 10:44:36 AM , Rating: 5
...all that much who's in charge there. The ultimate issue that I see is that people use Microsoft products because it's difficult not to - Windows and Office being the obvious examples.

Despite what the mouth-foaming Macolytes like Tony Swash would have you believe, there aren't really any Microsoft "fanboys" that I think you could correlate to the fanbase of Apple. No one runs up and down the aisles claiming that MS is teh greatest blah blah like Apple fans do. People use Windows because it's the only rational choice...there's not a reasonable alternative if you actually want to participate in the computing world. People use Office because MS abused their OS monopoly position to make Office the defacto standard for office suites. Anyone in the world would otherwise be just fine using pretty much any other office suite - but MS Office took over...so it's the path of least resistance.

Ultimately, MS is generally seen as, at best, the "safe choice" or the "rational choice." At worst, they're a necessary evil. It doesn't really get any better than that...they're never the "fun choice" or the "stylish choice" or the "man-oh-man I can't wait to get my hands on that new gadget" choice.

That's something I don't think you're going to change. And only Apple can ever defeat Apple. Apple will never be a company that competes on the merits of it's products unless it manages to do something so remarkably stupid as to snap it's consumer base out of their comas. And as time as proven again and again, it seems that not even the most stupid actions ever seen in the tech world can seem to do that.

So forget Apple. You're no more likely to take marketshare from Apple than Nazis are to recruit Jews into their ranks. The first step for MS is going to be to change it's market perception from a "necessary evil" to "attractive provider of useful products" first. And while that might sound like a small step...it will be nearly insurmountable for MS to achieve.




RE: Not sure it matters...
By StanO360 on 5/26/2011 12:30:13 PM , Rating: 1
MS abused their monopoly position to make Office the defacto standard. You are either young or stupid or both.

I remember buying MS Word, because it was cheaper and it was not the "safe" choice, but I was worried that it wouldn't be WordPerfect compatible. Office is an example of disciplined business on MS's part (that don't always do that).

They brought Word and Excel into an office environment completely dominated by WordPerfect and Lotus. They made a better product at a better price and took the market over.


RE: Not sure it matters...
By Motoman on 5/26/2011 1:14:16 PM , Rating: 3
Nope. I was completing a college degree in IT at the time that Word was first coming out.

Any claim that MS didn't leverage their OS monopoly to push Office into businesses worldwide is pure morony.

Neither Word nor Excel were better than WordPerfect or Quattro Pro or Lotus 123. They were, however, aggressively pushed into the business world on the backs of Windows OS contracts, and therefore took over.

For you to assert otherwise indicates that you are either too young to have been there at the time (and are therefore lying), or stupid. Or both. Your failure is comedic in scope.


RE: Not sure it matters...
By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2011 6:51:46 PM , Rating: 1
Remember, on Daily Tech, everything you do to improve your company or make more profits is "abusing your market position".


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