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Microsoft Investors Want Bill Gates Out as Chairman

By - Source: Reuters | B 40 comments

Three investors want Gates out as chairman of the board, and are making waves.

Reuters reports that three of the top twenty Microsoft investors want Bill Gates to step down as chairman of the board, and are lobbying other board members to put pressure on the Microsoft co-founder. However sources claim that there's no indication the company board will actually heed the wishes of these three investors.

The news isn't all that surprising given the company is entering into a new era of devices and services. The news also arrives after CEO Steve Ballmer said last month that he is taking an early retirement within the next twelve months. Gates has been one of Ballmer's biggest supporters since he handed the CEO reigns to Ballmer back in 2000.

According to the sources, the three investors are concerned that the presence of Bill Gates, who co-founded the company 38 years ago, could block the adoption of new strategies, and limit the new CEO's power to make substantial changes. They're also worried about Gates' role on the special committee for seeking out a new CEO.

Currently Gates is the company's largest individual shareholder, owning about 4.5 percent of the $277 billion company. He owned 49 percent of Microsoft before it went public in 1986, and is now selling about 80 million Microsoft shares a year under a pre-set plan. By 2018, he is expected to have no financial stake in the company.

That said, shareholders are worried that Gates currently wields too much power, that this power is out of proportion to his declining shareholding. Of course, he is a co-founder, chairman of the board and former CEO, but sources point to his philanthropic foundation that consumes most of his time. Maybe it's time for Gates to let go and let the company flourish or wither and die on its own.

While Microsoft searches for a replacement for Ballmer, the company is gearing up to launch Windows 8.1 later this month, followed by the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets and the highly-anticipated Xbox One. Windows Phone 8.1 is expected to arrive in the spring along with another Windows 8 update, Modern UI apps for Office, and the Surface 2 LTE model.

Microsoft's shift to a devices and services company is in response to losing ground in the mobile arena to Google and Apple. The decline in the desktop market also pushed the company to design a platform that fits both the desktop and mobile form factors, and a Windows platform that works on the two leading architectures: ARM and x86. Sources claim that the Windows platform will become more unified across all devices this spring.

The Microsoft insiders told Reuters that although Bill Gates is one of the technology industry's greatest pioneers, he was more effective as a CEO than as the chairman of the board.

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Top Comments
  • 28 Hide
    Estix , October 2, 2013 9:30 AM
    "Three of the top twenty" want him out? So, 17/20 want him to stay?

    Sounds to me like everything's fine for Bill.
  • 25 Hide
    p05esto , October 2, 2013 9:27 AM
    Gates should take over, not go away. Delete Win8 from existance and go back to REAL computing, power users and professionals only. If you want to jerk off checking facebook and instashit then go do it on a chromebook. Keep Windows for professional usres who sit in front of a giant screen, keyboard and mouse all day doing actual work. Sending emails and checking stock news is not the real work I'm talking about. Editing video, programming applications, design work, CAD, etc etc
  • 24 Hide
    bustapr , October 2, 2013 9:32 AM
    there should be a little more respect for the guy who started and grew the immense wave these guys are just riding.
Other Comments
    Display all 40 comments.
  • 25 Hide
    p05esto , October 2, 2013 9:27 AM
    Gates should take over, not go away. Delete Win8 from existance and go back to REAL computing, power users and professionals only. If you want to jerk off checking facebook and instashit then go do it on a chromebook. Keep Windows for professional usres who sit in front of a giant screen, keyboard and mouse all day doing actual work. Sending emails and checking stock news is not the real work I'm talking about. Editing video, programming applications, design work, CAD, etc etc
  • 4 Hide
    ethanolson , October 2, 2013 9:28 AM
    Is this akin to the Apple/Jobs debacle in the 90's?
  • 28 Hide
    Estix , October 2, 2013 9:30 AM
    "Three of the top twenty" want him out? So, 17/20 want him to stay?

    Sounds to me like everything's fine for Bill.
  • 24 Hide
    bustapr , October 2, 2013 9:32 AM
    there should be a little more respect for the guy who started and grew the immense wave these guys are just riding.
  • 12 Hide
    megamanx00 , October 2, 2013 9:38 AM
    It's his company and he should be involved if he wants to be. To hell with those other three investors :D 
  • 9 Hide
    megamanx00 , October 2, 2013 9:42 AM
    Pushing out the founder completely for dumb reasons didn't work too well for Apple and almost lead to them fading away forever. Unless gates is actively being detrimental to the long term health of the company (and I stress long term) it sounds to me like they are just whiny millionaires who want to steer a software company in a direction they know nothing about.
  • 6 Hide
    Yuka , October 2, 2013 9:43 AM
    I say kick those f'tards out of the board instead.

    For all the differences I have on how MS does things, I'd say the real business man in the house is Bill Gates. Besides, it's his friggin' company!

    Those F'tards should be asking for him to get back as CEO for a year or so while he shakes the house a bit and find a suitable person for the position. I'm pretty sure Mr Bill can take a year to shake things up a bit.

    Cheers!
  • 0 Hide
    hoofhearted , October 2, 2013 9:47 AM
    Maybe these three are realling trying to light a fire and piss him off into coming back and taking over Balmer's spot. It would make sense since they saw their greatest growth during Gates tenure.
  • 7 Hide
    burmese_dude , October 2, 2013 10:01 AM
    When was the last time investors cared about sustainability and long term health of a company or its employee well beings. Or if the company is breaking rules and laws and poisoning the earth for max profit...

    Investors always care about short term profit and nothing else. If I owned a large company, I would never go public, where investors have a say in anything I do. Money isn't everything.
  • 5 Hide
    The Grave Digger , October 2, 2013 10:02 AM
    Well..At Least we know,There are 3 more Bast*rd need to be TERMINATED Besides Ballmer
  • 4 Hide
    jhansonxi , October 2, 2013 10:26 AM
    Gates is the reason Ballmer wasn't fired years ago. He was promoting the Win8 interface and probably had significant influence over it.

    Shareholders can't be fired since they reason they exist is their ownership of stock. They could be bought out but that's about it. The position of chairman is elected by the shareholders and can be replaced. That doesn't mean that Gates will be "fired" since he is not an employee and he will still have his stock. If you don't like what the three investors are complaining about then contact them and offer to buy up their stock. Then you can vote to keep Gates.

    Gates may be the founder, but his amount of ownership is determined by the percentage of stock he holds versus the total amount of stock available. He has been selling stock for years so it's no surprise that some other investors want a chairman with a greater financial investment in the company.
  • 5 Hide
    ramon zarat , October 2, 2013 10:30 AM
    Put Bill back in the driver seat...
  • -5 Hide
    back_by_demand , October 2, 2013 10:46 AM
    "and the highly-anticipated Xbox One"

    Evidence this is a copy/paste story, Kev Parrish would never have put a positive spin on a Microsoft product
  • 1 Hide
    hero1 , October 2, 2013 10:54 AM
    Rats! I think Bill should revise his plan and increase his stakes in the company. MS need him there and I hope no one listens to the rats that wouldn't have had anything if Bill never took MS public let alone start the company.
  • 1 Hide
    milktea , October 2, 2013 11:04 AM
    Quote:
    When was the last time investors cared about sustainability and long term health of a company or its employee well beings...


    Well said. I'd give you an extra thumb up if I could.
  • 0 Hide
    milktea , October 2, 2013 11:07 AM
    From this article ... "They're also worried about Gates' role on the special committee for seeking out a new CEO."
    I smell something fishy with these 'three investors'. They are up to something, especially in the next CEO position for MS.
  • -7 Hide
    ta152h , October 2, 2013 11:19 AM
    Let's be real, Bill Gates was not an innovator. He rode a monopoly, and was a criminal. He put businesses with better products out of business by illegal practices. That's not opinion, Microsoft was fined for it.

    He showed no vision, and just followed other companies, used monopoly power, and the crushed the companies that were innovating.

    Let's not forget who this guy was. He wasn't good for the industry. He slowed it down. That's why they got fined for it. Again, it's not my opinion, it's fact since they were found guilty.

    Now, Microsoft hasn't been able to do that, because they are weaker. So, when you depend on monopoly power, instead of good products and innovation, when you lose it, things go awry. They keep trying to leverage monopoly power, but can't. Look at Windows 8. Why does it suck? Because Microsoft, instead of deciding to make a good product that worked great on the device it was on, decided once again to try to leverage their monopoly. Let's make it look the same on both tablet and PC, so when they're forced to buy Windows on their PC, they'll already be comfortable with it on their tablet when they go looking for a new one.

    Except, it didn't work. The monopoly was weakened. The success from leveraging it wasn't forthcoming. So, with 8.1, do they give up? Nope, still a tablet OS for the desktop. Why? Because they don't know any better. They don't. It's what they've always done. It's what's worked in the past. Don't try to create a better product, just use the monopoly to leverage it.

    That mindset has to change, and the plague of inferior Microsoft products will change with it.

    It's too late now to save their monopoly, Ballmer and Windows 8 saw to that. But, it's not too late for them to make products that are competitive and sell based on that. But, it better happen fast, ChromeOS and Android just keep getting more traction every month. Windows 8.1 is surely not the answer.
  • 2 Hide
    gm0n3y , October 2, 2013 11:52 AM
    While I think that it would probably be good for M$ if Bill came back as CEO, that is just not going to happen. I can see with the amount of power he wields at M$ that if he isn't going to take the reins then he is going to be more of a problem than a solution.
  • 2 Hide
    coolitic , October 2, 2013 12:11 PM
    I find this very funny. They must be stupid to think they have any chance of him stepping down. Instead of stepping down, I suggest that he gets more power to fix Microsoft's broken state (they fail at everything right now. Xbox One, tablets, and Windows 8)
  • 4 Hide
    marcolorenzo , October 2, 2013 12:13 PM
    Quote:
    Gates should take over, not go away. Delete Win8 from existance and go back to REAL computing, power users and professionals only. If you want to jerk off checking facebook and instashit then go do it on a chromebook. Keep Windows for professional usres who sit in front of a giant screen, keyboard and mouse all day doing actual work. Sending emails and checking stock news is not the real work I'm talking about. Editing video, programming applications, design work, CAD, etc etc


    Yeah, that kind of elitist thinking sounds like a great basis for a business plan!

    Quote:
    He showed no vision, and just followed other companies, used monopoly power, and the crushed the companies that were innovating.


    I can't be bothered to list all the things he directly or indirectly innovated, but I can see your point even though I think you're being a bit militant. I just want to say though that I think this whole idea that Microsoft is a big bad monopoly came from the fact that when Microsoft was at its peak, there were no companies like it or ever before. These days we have Apple and Google doing similar things, buying up smaller companies and no one bats an eyelid. A great example of this is when the courts tried to force Microsoft to not package Internet Explorer with every OS. They didn't succeed but instead managed to make them provide information on alternative browser options with every OS sold. I don't believe Apple is doing that, yet no one seems to care that Safari is the only option you have with a freshly installed OS X.

    As far as Windows 8 goes, I still don't see the problem. I use it on my 2 year old laptop with no touchscreen and wouldn't go back to anything else. The start screen performs all the functions that the start button does and much more (please correct me if I'm wrong. In fact, I would honestly like to know what you could do with the old Start button that you can't now do on the Start screen, apart from easy access to the shut down button). Sure the "Modern" apps suffer from being full screen all the time as well as many other problems that make them less functional than traditional apps but since I primarily use traditional apps, I don't see the problem. And they're just additions to the traditional Windows experience. You don't lose any functionality by their existence. Apart from these points, Windows 8 is an improvement on just about every level over Windows 7 including more functions, better boot times, better performance etc.

    Of course, if I'm wrong, I'll be happy to hear what you think. But after using Windows 8 since November last year, I still haven't found anything about it that makes it worse than any past Windows.
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