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Microsoft investors call for Gates' ouster

Microsoft investors call for Gates' ouster

A group of investors, collectively holding more than five per cent of Microsoft's stock, are claimed to be calling for company co-founder Bill Gates to relinquish the role of chair.

Steve Ballmer's stepping down from his role of chief executive at Microsoft appears to have given investors an appetite for fresh blood, with anonymous sources suggesting that company co-founder Bill Gates could be the next to go.

Gates founded the company Micro-Soft, as it was then styled, in 1975 after quitting Harvard University to develop an operating system for the MITS Altair 8800. The success of the company was assured when Microsoft became the middle-man in a deal that would see the Seattle Computer Products' QDOS operating system sold on every IBM personal computer.

Although Gates remains the chair of Microsoft, after relinquishing the chief executive role to Ballmer in 2000, he gave up his control over day-to-day operations in 2008 in order to concentrate on his philanthropic projects. As the largest single shareholder, at 4.5 per cent, he's still very much a figurehead for the company however - but a minority of investors are looking for that to change.

According to anonymous sources 'familiar with the matter' speaking to newswire service Reuters, three of the company's top 20 investors have issued a request to the board for Gates to step down as the company's chair. While a clear minority, the investors collectively control more than five per cent of the company's stock giving them considerable clout with the board.

No reason for the request, on which Microsoft itself has refused to comment, was given, beyond a single source telling the service that it was 'felt [Gates] was more effective as chief executive than as chairman.'

Currently, Microsoft is on the hunt for a new chief executive to replace Ballmer, but it seems unlikely that the semi-retired Gates, aged 57, will be eager to return to the role.

8 Comments

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GeorgeK 2nd October 2013, 12:27 Quote
Am I wrong but shouldn't the title say Gates' ousting rather than ouster?
docodine 2nd October 2013, 13:20 Quote
both ouster and ousting are correct
Flibblebot 2nd October 2013, 13:38 Quote
Ouster is predominantly an American usage, according to the OED.

The three shareholders in question might own 5% market share, but Bill & Steve own over 8% between them, so it's unlikely that this is going to happen. It's more grandstanding than anything, I think.
Flibblebot 2nd October 2013, 13:39 Quote
Double post thanks to BT's slowness today :(
Phil Rhodes 2nd October 2013, 15:33 Quote
Oh, I love corporate politi....

...zzzz.
DC74 2nd October 2013, 19:10 Quote
Sorry but it's a minority of shareholders, probably greedy corporate types who want Microsoft to do more than take our eyes out and come back for the sockets.

What people really want is Gates to come back and sort Microsoft out, the lunatics are running the asylum over there. With Ballmer at the helm who led them from catastrophe to catastrophe in recent years. Maybe they might need someone new who shares Gate's vision to bring something new, without being too much of a radical departure from what people are used to as has been the problem with the Windows 8 debacle. As for the new Xbox well I don't think I need to say anything about that, it speaks for itself.

I have to admit if It was my company which I had built and a few malcontents were rocking the boat I'd tell them straight where to get off. But also take note of the problems that have beset Microsoft in recent years and make some changes.
Nexxo 2nd October 2013, 19:39 Quote
Actually, most of Ballmer's not-so-good decisions were either backed by Gates, made in close consultation with Gates or made in keeping with Gates' vision. He shares as much blame as anybody else for Microsoft's past mistakes.
fluxtatic 3rd October 2013, 07:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Actually, most of Ballmer's not-so-good decisions were either backed by Gates, made in close consultation with Gates or made in keeping with Gates' vision. He shares as much blame as anybody else for Microsoft's past mistakes.

Potentially true (too lazy to go looking for sources), but it might be that Ballmer's a hell of a salesman. Especially the last few years, since Gates stepped back from MS to concentrate on the B&MGF, Ballmer might have been selling Gates some really half-baked ideas due to Gates being distracted.

On a much smaller scale, the same is happening where I work - new management that has no clue what they're doing are eating the company from the inside, and the guys that used to be running the show are nodding distractedly, because their minds are on other things now.
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