Microsoft's Steve Ballmer named America's worst CEO by Forbes

Microsoft head beats out Wal-Mart, Sears, GE and Cisco for top slot in "CEOs who should have been fired long ago"

Steve Ballmer is the #1 ranked CEO who "should have been fired long ago," beating out competition from companies such as GE and Wal-Mart, argues Forbes in a rather scathing article posted this week. Ballmer is credited with not only helping to cripple Microsoft, but other companies that rely on the technology and expertise that has come out of the tech giant for decades.

"Without a doubt, Mr. Ballmer is the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today," says Forbes contributor Adam Hartung. "Not only has he singlehandedly steered Microsoft out of some of the fastest growing and most lucrative tech markets (mobile music, handsets and tablets) but in the process he has sacrificed the growth and profits of not only his company but 'ecosystem' companies such as Dell, Hewlett Packard and even Nokia."

"The reach of his bad leadership has extended far beyond Microsoft when it comes to destroying shareholder value - and jobs."

Ballmer's leadership, argues Forbes, has drastically pushed back the value of the company, which used to enjoy $60/share trading. Today's number hovers in the low $30s, recovering from a low point of the mid-$20s in 2002. Much of the argument stems from the belief that Microsoft has simply forgotten that the market is changing, and has decided to simply stay in the PC game, rather than work to lead the tablet and mobile markets.

"So today Microsoft, after dumping Zune, dumping its tablet, dumping Windows CE and other mobile products, is still the same company Mr. Ballmer took control over a decade ago," argues Hartung. "Microsoft is PC company, nothing more, as demand for PCs shifts to mobile. Years late to market, he has bet the company on Windows 8 - as well as the future of Dell, HP, Nokia and others."

"An insane bet for any CEO - and one that would have been avoided entirely had the Microsoft Board replaced Mr. Ballmer years ago with a CEO that understands the fast pace of technology shifts and would have kept Microsoft current with market trends."

What the Forbes author left out is how successful the Xbox and Xbox Live business has become. While Ballmer didn't lead the Xbox charge directly, the growth of the Interactive Entertainment Business happened on his watch.

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Latest comments (7)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 5 years ago
There are worse..........................
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 4 years ago
Steve Ballmer is the #1 ranked CEO who "should have been fired long ago,"
Does he atleast get an award for that? A plaque? Anything?
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Show all comments (7)
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
Someone tell Forbes that some people still buy (and prefer) PC over mobile. Or at least have both in their homes...
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee4 years ago
Someone tell Forbes that some people still buy (and prefer) PC over mobile. Or at least have both in their homes...
That's not really the point though. As wonderful as PC is, Microsoft have failed to get into any of the significant growth areas in technology, PC, relatively speaking is declining.

Its quite extraordinary to see the number of technologies and innovations Microsoft either passed on when presented with the opportunity or got rid of whilst in development.

Even though I personally like Windows 8, Microsoft haven't done very well in the market with it and Windows 8 RT in particular has managed to hurt some manufacturers, partly because of a poor offering and partly because they also had to compete with Microsoft themselves.
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Donald Dalley Freelance writer 4 years ago
Forbes should name E(f)lop as Europe's Worst CEO, then.

What a tragedy he has been, on Ballmer's watch, too.
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Andrew Ihegbu Studying Bsc Commercial Music, University of Westminster4 years ago
Microsoft has only survived this long because of the Enterprise and OEM market. Make no mistake. Ballmer simply isn't aggressive enough. I feel sorry for him somewhat. You have to be very sure-footed as a CEO and I imagine when your first big move is your worst, you never quite have the confidence to be bold again.

MSFT today has 20bn in free cash. What is it doing? Nothing. Why? No Idea. Should they be investing it in actually expanding? Damn straight. When was the last time you truly saw them go at marketing a product as intensely as Apple do. Never.

If they did what Google did and sold WP8 with ads and no price tag, or did what Apple did and sold WP8 as a premium product and marketed it as so (on the basis of no ads/better user experience) then I think they would do much better, but no. They will be typical, boring, lost, middle-ground Microsoft. And to be frank, that's a reputation that Ballmer gave them.
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