He was 50% An Idiot
You are free to kiss his *** or yea, there's no reason to beat a dead horse but you broight it up. When Gates left, it was a simply the high tech industry. By 2000, it started to cleave between an enterprise tech market and a consumer high tech market. If MS concentrated on the former, you can see where they would be - massive with 80% margins and HUNDREDS of BILLIONS in the bank or also owning other major brands in the enterprise tech industry. Instead, because Ballmer wanted his legacy to be as great as Steve Jobs-Bill Gates, he WASTED HUNDREDS of BILLIONS chasing the consmer market that they clearly had NO BUSINESS in now and then. Just as Cisco bailed on their consumer brands, Ballmer figured by sheer will, they would be hugely successful. Here's the difference - in the music indstry, Ballmer tried to lock up digital with WMA by selling the DRM setup to the music industry - works great for them but consumers hated it - first with MP3's and later because Apple figured out that if you actually figure out what consumers wanted, they would win - in fact, through most of the ipod era, all itunes tracks were still with DRm so it wasn't just that but the fact that MS' culture couldn't figure what consumers wanted. But hey, why not spend a billion on the ZUNE years too late to make a difference. The Xbox? MS spent $20 BILLION to launch it and eetually wrote it off - bottom line, they needed to sell 1-billion units to break even, they fell about 900 million units short - that is Ballmer's math. ANd what's worse, by selling a $5K WIN PC without virii and driver issues as an Xbox for $399 & later $299, they killed the high end PC Market ... or in 10 years, $1k+ WIN PC's wnt from 97% market share to less than 1% today. So, not only has the Xbox created a $30 billion black hole, how much did they lose by killing the $1k WIN PC market? Or his topper - predicting the iphone is NOTHING. The iPhone division is LARGER than ALL OF MICROSOFT - think about that. It's one thing to be defeated by a nimbler competitor but it's another where the CEO does NOT recognize the future AT ALL. Or Google, MS dismissing that search is worth anything so they basically gave up on MSN. How much as Google taken in ad sales in the past 10-years? Ballmer kept his job ONLY because he was Gates roommate in college - for shareholders, Ballmer probably costed them $250-$350 BILLON in equity (whether in market cap or dividends that were wasted on things like plays4aure, Bob, $6 BILLION for Vista, Zune, Xbox, KIN, win CE, win mobile, webTV, surface RT, etc, etc ...) in fact, Ballmaer had exactly ZERO consumer successes* in his ENTIRE career as CEO. Think about that. He may have cost one corporation the most amount of market cap & writeoffs in the history of corporations - so he has that ... and walks away with $20 billion after stock buybacks to prop up the stock after HE tanked it. Ballmer was a fine bad cop during the Gates early era of tech but BOTH of them were outclassed and out-clued when the high tech industry switched. Gates was smart enough to get out and be seen as a good guy. Ballmer was not a war-time general - he was fine when all you needed was a guy to shout to get people to march around nice but he was the Pearl Harbor commander who piled all his planes and ships together.