After Ballmer: 8 Execs You Love To Hate - InformationWeek

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6/25/2014
08:07 AM
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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Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
7/4/2014 | 1:26:21 AM
Re: Mayer & Telecommuting
SusanN, 

I would love to see a CEO of any gender implement groundbreaking family friendly policies in the U.S., but sadly that has yet to happen."

I have an idea. :D 
What if when interviewing a CEO of any gender one of unexpected question is about that. For example: Do you plan to implement groundbreaking family friendly policies in your [name of the company], or you have done it already? 
 
If several CEO are asked this, maybe one thinks of the possibility of becoming a champion CEO and implements something good. Too crazy of an idea? 
 
-SusanF
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 2:48:07 PM
Re: Mayer & Telecommuting
@SusanF: bingo! There is still a double standard when it comes to male and female CEOs. I would love to see a CEO of any gender implement groundbreaking family friendly policies in the U.S., but sadly that has yet to happen. Typical corporate policies do not favor families or a true work-life balance -- especially for parents -- and most companies here offer only the minimum required of them by law, which is a pretty low bar.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 2:41:18 PM
Re: Mayer & Telecommuting
@Dave: 100% right on. I was so infuriated reading the coverage of that. I have a hard time believing that any male CEO would have been criticized in the same fashion. In fact, I've heard tales of some CEOs making guests wait ridiculous amounts of time as a sort of alpha-male power play. While it's ultimately her fault, I do have to ask: Where were her trusted team members to make sure that didn't happen?

Don't most CEOs at her level have a possee of support staff to make sure they get where they need to be on time? Where was Mayer's support staff? 

I'm not anywhere near her level, but I know I have team members I can trust who would have had the hotel staff banging down my door to make sure I got to that meeting in time. Seems like Mayer was hung out to dry on this one. 

 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 2:33:34 PM
Re: Marissa Mayer: Please Step on Up
@hho927: Ha! Yup, bring in the woman to clean up the mess the men have made. <grin>
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 2:32:14 PM
Re: Where is Larry Ellison?
@jries921: He sailed off in his yacht before we could snap a pic of him...

:)
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 2:31:00 PM
Re: Mayer & Telecommuting
@Dave: There's a lot to admire about all of those CEOs, and I realize it's impossible to be in that kind of leadership position without making decisions that are going to leave some people really really unhappy. I happen to disagree in principal with the way she approached the work-life balance issues at Yahoo. 

I had a management training program this week that presented what the trainer called the "platinum rule," next step up from the "golden rule."

So, the golden rule as we know is "do undo others as you would have others do unto you."

the platinum rule is to "treat others as they would LIKE to be treated."

I think that Mayer's policies violate that rule.

 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 3:30:19 PM
Re: Crowley
@Progman2000- I get that the policy exists, but with a little app, if you could make it self-service, what would be the harm in changing the policy?
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 3:18:27 PM
Re: Crowley
@progman2000- Well, what's funny is I believe that she did get a bib but it wasn't the right bib. It didn't let her run with her husband. So not only did she fake a bib, but she kept someone else from having one that could have.

That said, one wonders if a little technology could be applied to this to do "bib exchanges" among the non-elite runners. 
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 2:14:59 AM
Re: Meyer and telecommuting
Ashish, 

Yes. It's as we discussed on David's article about leadership and pizza. Did you see that one? It takes more than giving orders to be a good leader. 

-Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 2:09:32 AM
Re: Mayer & Telecommuting
Ashish,

Exactly. And this is how once again we found ourselves continuing the topics of discussion that we started elsewhere.

I will not forget about sending you that book. :D

-Susan 
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