Microsoft Investors Want Bill Gates Out as Chairman

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.

  • p05esto
    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
  • ethanolson
    Is this akin to the Apple/Jobs debacle in the 90's?
  • Estix
    "Three of the top twenty" want him out? So, 17/20 want him to stay?

    Sounds to me like everything's fine for Bill.
  • bustapr
    there should be a little more respect for the guy who started and grew the immense wave these guys are just riding.
  • megamanx00
    It's his company and he should be involved if he wants to be. To hell with those other three investors :D
  • megamanx00
    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.
  • -Fran-
    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.

  • hoofhearted
    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.
  • burmese_dude
    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.
  • The Grave Digger
    Well..At Least we know,There are 3 more Bast*rd need to be TERMINATED Besides Ballmer