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