On Monday Forbes named its Top 5 CEOs that should have already been fired, throwing Cisco Systems' John Chambers at the bottom of the list for having served with the company since 1995. He has reorganized Cisco three times, and failed to bring the company up to speed once the industry moved to cloud computing. The company's stock lost half its value between 2001 and 2007, and has since halved again.
For the fourth position on the list, Forbes chose Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric. "GE has only had 9 CEOs in its 100+ year life. But this last one has been a doozy," Forbes writes. "After more than a decade of rapid growth in revenue, profits and valuation under the disruptive 'neutron' Jack Welch, GE stock reached $60 in 2000. Which turns out to have been the peak, as GE’s value has gone nowhere but down since Mr. Immelt took the top job."
In the third position is Walmart's Mike Duke who should have been fired long ago based alone on bribing foreign officials to grow the company. He knew about the illegal activity, didn't do anything about it, and then tried to change U.S law to diminish the legal repercussions. "It’s clear that internally the company and its Board knew Mr. Duke was willing to do anything to try and grow Walmart, even if unethical and potentially illegal," Forbes writes.
Ranking in the #2 spot is Edward Lampert of Sears Holdings who, unlike the others on the list, only serves as Chairman of the company. This one is fairly obvious for those who knew the Sears chain of old: it was the place to go for just about anything, whether it was appliances, tools, clothes and toys. According to Forbes, Lampert called every shot since he took over Sears and missed every target. The chain went from being the most critical force in retailing, to one of the most irrelevant.
Finally, we have Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, the #1 CEO on Forbes' Top 5 CEOs Who Should Have Already Been Fired. "Not only has he singlehandedly 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," Forbes writes.
Microsoft peaked at $60 per share back in 2000 just as Ballmer took over as CEO. But two years later, shares dropped into the $20s, and now hovers in the low $30s. Ballmer has admitted that Vista's development cost too much and that it launched too late. He even stated that Microsoft missed the boat in regards to getting into the smartphone sector promptly after Apple changed the world with its iPhone. The company has launched and discontinued many products during his tenure, but still remains the same company he took control of over a decade ago.
Forbes offers a lot more on each subject, so be sure to read why these five are on this Top 5 list. "The 5 CEOs in this column are well on the way to leading their companies into the kind of problems [RIM, Best Buy and American Airlines] have already discovered," the article concludes.