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Microsoft investors lobby for Bill Gates' retirement - report

Prominent stockholders want Gates to follow Ballmer as company seeks innovation

A group of Microsoft's most prominent investors are privately lobbying for Bill Gates to step down as the company's chairman.

According to a report on Reuters, which cites a number of anonymous sources, the investors are three or the 20 biggest shareholders in the company, with combined holdings of more than 5 per cent. Bill Gates, who is Microsoft's single biggest shareholder, owns 4.5 per cent of the company's stock.

The investors' position is that the imminent replacement of Steve Ballmer as CEO is an opportunity to push Microsoft forward after more than a decade in which it has stagnated and lost ground to its competitors. The presence of Gates, it has been said, would be a hindrance to the necessary adoption of bold new ideas and strategies, not to mention his influence on the special committee that will ultimately succeed Ballmer as Microsoft's chief executive.

Prior to taking the company public in 1986, Bill Gates owned 49 per cent of Microsoft's stock. However, he is bound to an agreement to sell 80 million shares every year, which would reduce his holding to nothing by 2018. However, the investors believe that Gates wields a far greater influence on the company than his actual stake would suggest.

Steve Ballmer announced his retirement last month, giving Microsoft 12 months to find a replacement. Ballmer has weathered calls for his retirement in the past, and even been named the worst CEO in America, so his decision will have been welcomed by many.

At present, Ford CEO Alan Mulally is believed to be the top candidate to replace him.

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Latest comments (6)

Nick Wofford Hobbyist 8 years ago
Gates is basically the Mr. Yamauchi of Microsoft. Getting him to retire is pointless because he'll still have power over the executives. They trust his opinion, and they'll listen to his advice. And he seems to have a good head on his shoulders, so I don't see this going anywhere.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nick Wofford on 2nd October 2013 6:34pm

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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago
Balmer would have been ejected at lot sooner if bill didn't protect him. I think that the board is preparing to catapult the rest of Prine Bills infrastructure now that the Sheriff of Balmerham has been run through
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
Microsoft has been in the doldrums for a long time now.
Apple and Google have grown rapidly to overtake them.
They missed many boats. Mobile, search, social media, app stores etc etc
They are stranded on a burning platform, the PC.
The $60 bricks and mortar retail game business model is in rapid decline.

Strategic ineptitude.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 8 years ago
The $60 bricks and mortar retail game business model is in rapid decline.
What does this have to do with Bill Gates?
They missed many boats. Mobile, search, social media, app stores etc etc
Or you can say they focused on their core market where they were most successful. They sold several hundred million Windows licences since 2009.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ Tom and more than 1 billion Android devices have been activated since 2009, a number that will continue to grow much more rapidly than Windows. Microsoft has, unquestionably, been cut off on the future of computing in markets they desperately need. It will be very, very difficult for them to turn that around at this point. Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are certainly not making much progress so far.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 8 years ago
Microsoft still dominates the cooperate space with Windows Server and Exchange. For a lot of companies, there isn't any alternative to that environment.

Consoles, phones and tablets are just more plastic crap in a market flooded with plastic crap. Microsoft will never dominate it, because it's just a segment filled with shovelware. I'd write that off as "brand name building exercise". For the most part it worked, ever since the introduction of the Xbox the brandname Microsoft is being scoffed at less, because it is not just that source of anger at work, but also the fun thing at home. As such, the Xbox will continue, even if all of Bruce's prediction are right.

Internet-Searches and ans Social Nets aren't businesses, they are just popular and widespread tools which can be attached to another business called internet advertisement. That is the business MS needs to figure out: internet advertisement. Who cares if it is then applied to MySpace Facebook or NextWeb. The ability to have a working technology for monetization is what separated Google from Lycos and Yahoo.

One of the more interesting Microsoft ventures these days is Lync. Give it five years and it has the potential to be the most important business telephone system. A business telephone system is what companies pay a lot of money for to have. It is a new Windows feature MS can charge extra money for and does not have to include in the ServerOS package. It is a market shifting to 100% IP based down to the smallest of companies. A market where the competition is far less impressive than on the console, phone and social web market.

In my opinion, the business space is the one to measure the strength of Microsoft. Not all that other fashion junk. The difference between Apple and MS is not who can make the trendiest overpriced phone, but who is a provider of digital distribution media and who isn't. Tick - Windows 8 Shop, Tock - Gabe Newell gets antsy for a reason.
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