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Ballmer accused of forcing out competitors to protect role

Ballmer accused of forcing out competitors to protect role

Tue 22 Jan 2013 8:44am GMT / 3:44am EST / 12:44am PST
HardwarePublishing

Former Microsoft exec claims original Xbox chief among CEO candidates pushed out of the company

Microsoft CEO Stave Ballmer has been accused of consolidating his position at the company by forcing out rising executives who challenge his authority.

The accusations are from a new book by the former Microsoft executive Joachim Kempin, which suggests that Ballmer's resignation could be the key for the company to, "really get back in the game seriously."

Kempin worked for Microsoft from 1983 to 2002, during which time he led the sale of Windows software to computer manufacturers. In an interview with Reuters, Kempin offered the example of Richard Belluzzo, a former Hewlett-Packard exec who rose to the position of COO and was instrumental in launching the first Xbox.

"He [Belluzzo] had no room to breathe on the top," Kempin said. "When you work that directly with Ballmer and Ballmer believes 'maybe this guy could someday take over from me', my God, you will have less air to breathe - that's what it comes down to."

Belluzzo left Microsoft in 2002 after just 14 months as COO, and Kempin has suggested that the departures of other key executives like Stephen Elop, Nokia Oyj and Ray Ozzie are evidence of the same trend. As a result, Ballmer's tenure as CEO, which started in 2000, has been defined by missed opportunities in a number of key growth areas for the company's competitors - many of which were in development during his time with Microsoft.

"They missed all the opportunities they were talking about when I was still in the company - tablets, phones," Kempin said. "We had a tablet going, we had tablet software when Windows XP came out, it was never followed up properly.

"They [Microsoft] need somebody maybe 35-40 years old, a younger person who understands the Facebook Inc generation and this mobile community. They don't need this guy on stage with this fierce, aggressive look, announcing the next version of Windows and thinking he can score with that."

Kempin is not the only dissenting voice around Ballmer's abilities as CEO. In May last year, Forbes magazine named him the, "the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today." In August, he was accused of mismanagement by a number of former Microsoft employees in an investigative article published in Vanity Fair called "Microsoft's Lost Decade".

5 Comments

Peter Dwyer
Games Designer/Developer

481 290 0.6
Tut tut but, then again I'm not sure what the alternative is in cut throat jobs like his. I do hear that police wear knife proof vests as standard so maybe that's an option for him instead of actually killing the competition....

On a more serious note I don't think age has so much to do with it, otherwise Jobs would have been ousted long before his actual death. It has more to do with a progressive attitude and that is sadly something that Blamer doesn't have. He needs to start looking at new technology rather than dismissing it out of turn. Surface RT could have been something special if only the Pro version existed and at a competitive price for instance. That is a simple example of a major mis-step on his part. Windows 8 interface is great but, without explaining to people how simple it is to use and switch over to. people will continue to think it's something new and hard to learn instead of something that is actually 100 times more intuitive than a desktop full of short cuts.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Peter Dwyer on 22nd January 2013 11:29am

Posted:A year ago

#1

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

632 239 0.4
Windows 8 interface is great but, without explaining to people how simple it is to use and switch over to.
If you have to explain how to use something, then its not intuitive.
Especially if you have to explain people how to use Windows they have used for almost 20 years.
people will continue to think it's something new and hard to learn instead of something that is actually 100 times more intuitive than a desktop full of short cuts.
Whatever you used to, is potentially faster. This is very similar problem to the HOTAS concept used in airplanes. The pilot does not need to take of his hands from the throttle and the stick, which allows him to focus on whats he doing without breaking his focus, maintaining a very high situational awareness (seeing where the plane goes more often than looking for instruments in the cockpit). If you are on the desktop, you just have to find one of those icons, click and be done with it. If you go to a different screen (metro ui) to find something, then you are leaving 'the zone' - your situational awareness is broken. For some users (typically ones who deeply focus on one task for a longer time), this is actually can be a very jarring experience. If you look at amazon, Win8 is getting 3 star reviews, with the majority of reviews are in the extreme, either 1 or 5. Its not just some people cannot adapt to a change, its just that for some work-flows this is seemingly minor thing makes them uncomfortable. If your workflow involves frequent changes with short bursts, this effect is not so noticable.

Ergonomy is not exactly a new science.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Tom Keresztes on 22nd January 2013 12:07pm

Posted:A year ago

#2

Craig Page
Programmer

382 218 0.6
Vista, Windows 8, Zune, Surface, Windows Phone, Bing... Microsoft needs a regime change, or to start expanding and hiring to become too big to fail and get a government bailout when they do.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Craig Page on 22nd January 2013 6:04pm

Posted:A year ago

#3

Sebastian Moss
Editor -in- Chief

57 19 0.3
"Forbes magazine named him the, "the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today." "

Actually, an online Forbes contributor did. They're writers who are paid per click and not controlled by the Forbes editorial staff.

"The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer."

This is the same guy who was ridiculed for saying the entire multi-Billion dollar entertainment division of MS could be bought out by the multi-Million dollar earning Barnes & Noble.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Sandy Lobban
Founder and Creative Director

310 195 0.6
Too many ambitious and potentially great entrepreneurs are wasted in companies like this by the politics of hanger-ons and role blockers. If you have a strong belief in yourself and a vision of how things should be, forget these corporate ladders and go into business for yourself.

Posted:A year ago

#5

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