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6/25/2014
08:07 AM
David Wagner
David Wagner
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After Ballmer: 8 Execs You Love To Hate

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer created the kind of love-hate relationship that tech users can't resist. These tech bigwigs can bring it like Ballmer.
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Steve Ballmer was like the star of his own reality show -- tears, laughs, crazy stunts, and business deals that brought weekly drama. Whether he was pretending to stomp on an employee's iPhone to make a point or crying on stage, Ballmer attracted attention and headlines, as well as his fair share of haters.

It was never going to be easy for anyone to follow Bill Gates, and despite his significant business success, Ballmer has always been shrouded in controversy. Ballmer was too interesting to simply hate. He created the kind of love-hate relationship that is sort of fun to have, much like how you hate a rival sports team.

With Ballmer retired, I decided to think about some of the current technology leaders who could fill his shoes as the guy (or gal) you love to hate. I didn't want to just make a list of people nobody likes -- that's too easy. It's hard to imagine that former Paypal CEO and Facebook investor Peter Thiel, for example, had many fans after he announced he didn't support a woman's right to vote. But there's nothing fun about that.

What I looked for are complicated figures -- people who are probably a real hoot at dinner but who, because of business reasons, interesting character flaws, honest disagreements, or an amusing inability to keep their mouths shut, offer us endless entertainment. Dig into our slideshow for a list of executives I think can bring it like Ballmer.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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hho927
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hho927,
User Rank: Moderator
6/25/2014 | 3:07:33 PM
Re: Marissa Mayer: Please Step on Up
She made the list because she called people came to work (not staying at home)

Other than that, she's cute. LOL and She have to take that job even she knows that she can't turn Yahoo around but it's a job that pays good plus that was a chance for her to be known.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
6/25/2014 | 3:01:08 PM
Marissa Mayer: Please Step on Up
@David   I really enjoyed this piece.   With Ballmer out of the picture for the most part ( Clipper Buy pending) there was a void at the top of the IT Exec hate list.   

While I agree Ballmer was love/hate.  I really didn't see his act too often since at that time I was anti- Microsoft ( I have since come around some...).  But the few times I did see him - he did rub me the wrong way.  I don't know- something about the guy, hopefully the Clipper experience will go better.  I doubt it.  But at least he is enthusiastic.

But my heart warms as I wondered when I would see the person I would vote #1.   She only made 3rd on your list - Ms. Marissa Mayer !   Seeing her lovely smiling face caused me to immediately grab my keyboard.  Now I am sure she is a very nice person, probably a great colleague and friend.   But she obviously is delusional.   

She actually thinks she can turn around Yahoo ?   She actually thinks Yahoo can become a viable entity on the Net ?   Wrong on all counts !   And as a former Googlite, she really should know better.  So why has she taken on this challenge ?   I don't even want to hear the noble considerations that most admire.  As far as I am concerned, taking the position at Yahoo, any position  at Yahoo is career suicide.

Ms Mayer welcome to the hot seat, I intend on disliking you well after you have unsuccessfully left Yahoo.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
6/25/2014 | 2:50:39 PM
Re: Mayer & Telecommuting
I think Mayer gets a bad rap. Her job is to turn around Yahoo, not to make the cover of Parenting magazine. If she thinks the culture (and thus the financial performance) isn't what it should be at Yahoo because too many people are working fom home, she shouldn't be skewered for requiring people to come into the office. I work from home at times (though not often) and appreciate having that flexibility, but I wouldn't protest if my employer required me to come into the office every day as part of a new strategic direction. Every company is different. I suspect at some point Mayer will relax her policy. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/25/2014 | 2:01:17 PM
Re: Mayer & Telecommuting
@Susan- I have to admit, in doing this article I developed a little CEO crush on Mayer. She joined Elon Musk, John Lasseter, and fellow Marylander Kevin Plank, as the executives I'd most like to have a meal with. 

She is charismatic and energetic and seems to have a vision. 

Lack of empathy for your workers though is poor leadership. It wasn't so much her decisions as the timing of the two events. I know one is personal and one is business, but if she did a better job of seeing how one affected the other, it would have been more helpful and better leadership.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/25/2014 | 1:50:50 PM
Re: 8 Execs You Love To Hate
@zerox203- Thanks for the compliments. If I'm goign to use a picture, I want it to count. :)

The interesting thing to me is that Ballmer is often considered a failure because Windows lost its iron lock on certain industries (browsers among them). But he had the company making more money than it ever did despite the fact that they were late to the mobile party and the industry is changing. He was a lot of things, but not a failure.

the next CEO has even larger numbers to live up to than Ballmer did when he took over for Gates. I find it hard to believe the company can continue to grow at rates that will seem like success. I'm not sure if holding your own makes a CEO popular. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/25/2014 | 1:45:41 PM
Re: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison
@Emery- Ha! Yes, I purposely left Ellison off the list in order to let people join in the fun. There are a couple of other names I'm expecting to hear, but i won't give them away. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/25/2014 | 1:42:13 PM
Re: Zuckerberg
You would think that after so many user revolts over Facebook's privacy policy, the company would figure out how to get it right.
 

My experience is that the revolts over security and privacy have mostly ended in the last two years or so. I think they HAVE learned. And between FB and Instagram they are still growing users so I think for th emsot part users have stopped.

That said, I'm starting to sound like an FB fan boy so I'll stop. :)
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/25/2014 | 1:33:08 PM
Re: Zuckerberg
@shane- I don't know if lack of respect is the right phrase. I joined Facebook the day they let grownups join it. And I never had any illusions that what I put up there was being handed over to a company and that I could not trust that that company wouldn't have a breach or that my information might be made more public than intended. So I acted accordingly. 

I don't think Zuckerberg or Facebook should be blamed that some adults use poor judgment by what they are willign to put on social media. To my recollection, Facebook has never had a major security breach where they handed over a bunch of tintimate informaiton to anyone. They seem to take data security seriously. They've kepy my data for years and only shown it accoridng to their (admittedly chaning constantly) policies. 

I feel like he has shown great respect to what I put there. He just created a product that requires the user to take some respect in themself as well.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/25/2014 | 1:29:04 PM
Re: Mayer & Telecommuting
@Number6- I guess it depends on who you ask. Mayer puts a public face on it by saying that it is making a difference. They are still having trouble staying profitable based on recent quarterly statements, but claim that by Q4 this will change. 

Considering the move was made for the sake of innovation and many innovations don't lead to growth for several years the jury is probably still out. That said, the timing made it really awful unless she planned on letting every employee turn the cube next to theirs into a nursery.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/25/2014 | 1:25:12 PM
Re: Zuckerberg
@Alison- I like Zuck and Facebook, but even I was amused. Some of Zuckerberg's family were really annoyed by my recollection is that Mark himself didn't bat an eyelash because it fit his philosophy. But i do suspect that that meant more for changing Facebook privacy settings than a million petitions.
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