back to article Ghosts of Ballmer and Gates haunt Microsoft CEO job hunters

Candidates for the next Microsoft CEO’s post are reportedly perturbed by the fact they could have Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates looking over their shoulder. The Wall Street Journal reports “at least some” of the external executives “have expressed concerns about being hamstrung” if the duo continue on the board. According to …


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  1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    The new Christmas Carol

    With the ghost of technology past and technology that never quite made it.

    Although I see Ballmer more as a poltergeist with his chair throwing ability

  2. Hans 1 Silver badge

    Ballmer just wants to make sure the new CEO sinks the ship no slower than he did himself ... ;-)

  3. ToddR


    Is it racist to call Balmer a chimp?

    1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: Racist

      Specist rather than racist, but Chimps might be offended...

    2. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Racist

      Hurumph! I find that insulting to chimpanzees.

    3. Captain Save-a-ho

      Re: Racist

      He's too fat to be a chimp, but chimps everywhere should really only be offended if people start calling them Ballmers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Racist

        My dog dumped some Ballmers in the back yard...

  4. Geoff Campbell


    CEOs are answerable to the board. That's how companies work.

    If you can't handle the pressure and manage that situation, don't apply for the position. Bloody lightweights.


    1. Pahhh

      Re: Meh.

      Totally agree.

      Plus if I had a stake in the company worth billions, I would like to keep an eye on the execs. Its no different to when VC place their man on the board if they make a large investment.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh.

      You are making the mistake of thinking this is a news's not.

      It's just some 'industry analysis' aka a load of made up/blindingly obvious drivel :)

    3. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: Meh.

      Just look at the antics of people like Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison to see how it works in reality.

      In theory, yes, the board is in control on behalf of the owners, i.e. the shareholders; but as the CEO usually has patronage it is likely that the board will be filled with like-minded fellow travellers and yes-men.

      Oh, and yes, Jobs did get pushed out by Apple's board and how well that worked out

    4. Getriebe

      Re: Meh.

      Absolutely! Any one who gets this is used to politics and big egos and can control them, if not they would not have got to a position where they would be considered

      The three blokes i have met at anything like a level to fill this post come with a degree of 'do the fucking hell wot I say' that pushes any regular MD out of the room.

  5. keithpeter


    Any examples of other very large PC/micro based computer technology companies that have survived the first generation?

    HP? Maybe not so good but still there


    IBM was there before microcomputers. Mind you so was Adobe, but in a smaller way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lifecycle

      One of IBM's consistent characteristics is CEO succession planning from inside the ranks. That only failed to produce a CEO once that I recall, back in the 90's when the proverbial was hitting the fan and an outside shock was needed.

      Succession planning is surely part of CEO 101. The lack of effective succession planning seems to be another of Ballmer's (and the board's) major weaknesses (unless there was a plan that was derailed by unforseeable circumstances?).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Galactica "this has all happened before, and it will happen again"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Will it be as entertaining?

      1. JonP

        Re: but

        "Will it be as entertaining?"

        No, but it will likely end as badly.

  7. tony2heads


    To qualify as a ghost you have to be dead first.

    Or are the quasi-dead necromongers?

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Ghosts?

      This is just a play by a ghost, Ballmer, who will continue as the boss after this play. And that is quite as well I think, and there from the very beginning. Who cares.

  8. Ant Evans

    £%^*$ Shareholders

    Gates and Ballmer are both big shareholders. Whether they're on the board or not, they'll be billion dollar pains in the arse. In the event, it may be better to have them in the tent pissing out. But any new boss will need even bigger shareholders in their own corner, or they will get nothing done.

    MSFT has so far failed Succession Planning 1. This is no way to run a public company.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £%^*$ Shareholders

      Sshhhh..... Don't tell them that!

    2. Charles Manning

      Re: £%^*$ Shareholders

      When Ballmer announced his retirement, the share price went UP, yet they still want him around? Dumb bastards deserve whatever they get.

      As for any potential CEO, being worried. I don't blame them. The new guy is just going to be a new scapegoat unless he can be allowed to turn some serious stuff around.

      Perhaps this is all a big plan. Hire in a new guy, but hamstring him so badly he can't do anything. In 5 years time Ballmer comes back and does a Jobsian return.

      Hey, I said that's a possible plan, not that it would work. Ballmer and Gates are so badly deluded about Ballmer's capability that they probably think this would work.

  9. auburnman

    The main thing is, MS still needs a massive and probably painful overhaul if they want to be anything other than a (gigantic but still) declining cash cow business. Any CEO going in with the intent of making that happen knows that the Old Guard WILL be a problem when he/she starts making drastic changes to their 'baby'.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Best summary of the whole article.

    2. Getriebe


      I disagree with most of your script

      "The main thing is, MS still needs a massive and probably painful overhaul if they want to be anything other than a (gigantic but still) declining cash cow business"

      Yes a change, but maybe not so drastic. Firstly what will be their chosen new direction? Once they have decided what that is the amount of change will become apparent.

      I think you are making a lot of assumptions on where they will go, you are making those assumption based on incomplete knowledge.

      You say they are a declining cash cow business - I read their figures and diagree with the declining - cash rich most certainly - but how do you read their numbers and say the business is declining?

      Next - what Old Guard - that is a rather parochial and narrow view. Maybe you and I will disagree on the relatove pleasantness of the current main names - but I hope we agree the gurrent people have run a very very big company and unlike many other big companies in the industrial age or the IT sector, its still here and still doing business, they have the smarts to get it this far - why not further?

      Anyone who accepts the job will have the support of the board - or they will not be accepted - and their strategy will be known by the major existing influencers or they will not be accepting the job. This is not a job interview for a junior manager where the company policy dictates mostly what the new hire will do. This is about getting some one who has a vision of where the company needs to go and the strength of will and character to take it there.

      This is why they are looking at people like Mullaly , he came into Ford - which is way more influenced by one stockholding family and bunch of big egos - but he made a change. What is specifically different at Microsoft?

      1. Ant Evans

        Re: @auburnman

        Unsurprisingly, Mulally has just done a Nancy Reagan.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What if...

    ...nobody wants the job?

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: What if...

      I'll take it :)

  11. Mikel

    China is holding things up

    China has to let the Nokia deal close before they can announce their selection. :-)

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