Ballmer Tops Forbes' List Of 5 Worst CEOs - InformationWeek

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Commentary
5/15/2012
01:46 PM
Chris Spera
Chris Spera
Commentary
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Ballmer Tops Forbes' List Of 5 Worst CEOs

After more than 12 years, it's clear that Steve Ballmer doesn't understand the organization or industry he's in. Can someone please tell me why this guy is still running Microsoft?

Forbes is a force to be reckoned with. Like in the old E.F. Hutton commercials, when Forbes speaks, people listen. So when Forbes calls Microsoft's Steve Ballmer currently the worst CEO in America today, then ouch. That one is definitely going to leave a mark.

Forbes' Adam Hartung takes not only Ballmer to the woodshed, but the CEOs of Cisco, GE, Wal-Mart, and Sears as well. Given the recent CEO shakeups recently, most notably the one at Yahoo!, this bit on Ballmer could be very troubling for Microsoft.

In fact, with all the evidence that is available to the public, why hasn't Microsoft's board acted?


BYTE Editorial Director Larry Seltzer challenges Forbes' harsh evaluation of Ballmer. Click here to read his defense of Microsoft's CEO.

As Hartung points out, "Not only has [Ballmer] single-handedly 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."

After more than 12 years at the helm, it's clear Ballmer doesn't understand the organization or industry he's in. The company's stock fell from a peak of 60 to 20 just two years after he took control of the company from its founder, Bill Gates. Since then, it has seen little improvement. It was hovering around 30 on Tuesday morning, a gain of about 10 points in 10 years.

So let me get this straight, since taking control of Microsoft--the hottest, most successful computer company in the world in 2000--Ballmer has managed to:

  • Destroy Microsoft's mobile computing (smartphones and tablets) initiatives, putting the organization's future profitability and relevance in serious jeopardy.
  • Delay and then eventually destroy Microsoft's portable music player and its ability to capitalize on what Apple has turned into a multi-billion dollar revenue stream.
  • Continuously delay the release of key revisions to its flagship Windows OS, thereby reducing or eliminating end user interest, desire, need, and value.
  • Allow internal costs to run out of control--Vista's launch was six years too late and had "200 man years too much cost" to produce.
  • Managed to put the finances of key company partners such as Dell, HP, and Nokia in serious danger as a result of the above.

Can someone please tell me why this guy is still running Microsoft? I seriously don't understand it. Where is the board of directors? Clearly it isn't paying attention either. Perhaps some board members should be replaced as well. I'm just sayin'.

Microsoft is behind the game right now, trying to steer itself back into relevance and back into the only market it has left--PC's--when the industry is clearly moving away from desktops and even laptops and moving to more agile platforms.

Well played, Mr. Hartung, well played. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks Steve Ballmer should go.

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