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.