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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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Pick their fights
By farsawoos on 5/26/2011 11:47:39 AM , Rating: 1
I'm not sure how this relates to Balmer or not, but one thing that I've noticed MS doesn't seem terribly good at is picking those few winning products out of the huge heaps of "rational choice" products (to use an earlier comment's terms) and really driving those home. They eventually get it right, but it seems like it takes them an inordinately long time to get there. Look at the XBox ecosystem. They were smart to move the 360 toward the center of the home theater experience, rather than simply leaving it as a game console, especially since competition from Sony, Nintendo, and the PC realm were still so strong. But how long did that take? Several years, as I recall, and how much did they lose in that time to Sony? Backing HD-DVD (as much asI agreed with that) was a failed move, too, that set them back considerably once BluRay took off.

WinPhone7 is another example. It's potentially great product. I'm an Android user, but I'm keeping my eyes fixed very heavily on MS's new mobile OS. But already we see how long it's taking them to address some of the issues, plug some of the holes that, honestly, shouldn't have been there in the first place (multitasking? copy/paste? REALLY, guys?). I'm still waiting on them to bring tighter integration with their Server products, so that they can take some of RIM's market share. They have the ability to do it, it's just a matter of drive and direction.

What a mess!

RE: Pick their fights
By Jalek on 5/26/2011 11:18:18 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft's missed the boat several times, the internet "fad" seems to have lasted a while, but when Netscape was posting billions in revenues, the fad became a market they wanted into, and that created IE (for better or worse).

They were hugely successful playing catchup while using their market position and incentives to gain market share.

Their strength seemed to be in their small-group development structures allowing them to rapidly change direction when the tide direction became clear, while more traditional organizations would flounder and take significantly longer to redirect their efforts.

When I held the stock, you knew the market directions coming for every public appearance. Ballmer would talk, stock would dip, then Gates would talk, and it'd climb. Made a bit of money banking on that.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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