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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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Hospice_Houngbo
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Hospice_Houngbo,
User Rank: Strategist
6/27/2014 | 9:26:40 AM
Re: Mayer & Telecommuting
@SF: You are right, men also do face many challenges trying to balance work and family life. Working women may think that they deserve an extra credit as most of the household chores are their responsibility. But that is not always the case as most male spouses tend to a great part of the house chores as well.
gev
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gev,
User Rank: Moderator
6/27/2014 | 9:03:54 AM
Wait a second
Where is Larry Ellison?
Hospice_Houngbo
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Hospice_Houngbo,
User Rank: Strategist
6/27/2014 | 8:53:35 AM
Re: Marissa Mayer: Please Step on Up
@hho927-- Not any kind of women, I will say. Skilled and talented women can impact a company's viability as would any skilled and talented men. :D
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
6/27/2014 | 7:59:00 AM
Re: Mayer & Telecommuting
SusanN, 

I completely agree with every statement you have made in your comment on Marissa Mayer's telecommuniting and parenting policy.

She missed two great opportunities of becoming a CEO of change. Her working parent reality is far from the reality of most working parents, for which her comments on this matter have no relevance, in my opinion. 

I also find it weird that she is always asked about how she balances familiy life and work life when, as you well mentioned, no male CEO has ever been asked the same thing, at least not to my knowledge. 

-Susan 
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/27/2014 | 7:01:20 AM
Re: Mayer & Telecommuting
@Broadway0474 that's a good point on Foursquare.  Do we feel bad at all for a company that falters when their leadership is that bad?  Of course we have to consider the people who work there but then I tend to think they are better of being somewhere else.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
6/26/2014 | 10:44:52 PM
Re: Mayer & Telecommuting
The worst story on that list is the FourSquare a$$. The pic really expresses their disdain for the wee people. Forget him and his wife. Does anyone even use FourSquare anymore? Most annoying social medium ever.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/26/2014 | 7:40:32 AM
Re: Mayer & Telecommuting
Well, I came here to say that in recent history Marissa Mayer is clearly one of the worst we've seen.  There really seems to be a disconnect between what she does and what she expects other people to do and this incident is more of the same.  To be fair though these are the executives who are really putting themselves out there and everything they do is under the microscope so it's natural that we see their flaws as much bigger issues than they might really be.  Right now I admire Elon Musk and the way he's leading Tesla but from what I hear he's somewhat difficult to work for, everyone has issues.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/25/2014 | 7:31:00 PM
Re: Mayer & Telecommuting
@Susan- Just hours after I submitted this story, Mayer got in trouble for sleeping through a meeting with major advertisers. She was attacked for not taking the advertisers seriously and not seeing the gravity of the meeting.

I honestly have no idea how Larry Page or Jack Welch or Steve Jobs or insert your idea of the alpha male CEO here, would have been treated if the same thing happened, but what i found really odd was the sense that this was somehow on purpose because she didn't "get" how important it was.

She was jetlegged and had been up for quite some time and fell asleep and didn't wake up in time for dinner. That seemed entirely like a human mistake. A dumb human mistake. One that should have consequences. But I felt like the response was patronizing. No one needs to tell her or any CEO how awful that was.

Maybe i'm wrong. Maybe any CEO would have been treated that way. But I'm thinking it just would been a sign of Steve Jobs being a "maverick."
hho927
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hho927,
User Rank: Moderator
6/25/2014 | 4:19:45 PM
Re: Marissa Mayer: Please Step on Up
Maybe among the geeks and news writers.

I'm a computer programmer but I didn't know her until she took the job.
hho927
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hho927,
User Rank: Moderator
6/25/2014 | 4:17:29 PM
Re: Marissa Mayer: Please Step on Up
@Susan. I agree. Women bring fresh air to 'almost dead' companies. Desperate time calls for desperate moves LOL
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