Why Microsoft Must Dump Steve Ballmer

The title sounds a bit harsh, but I truly believe that if Microsoft is going to survive long term, it needs to dump Steve Ballmer sooner rather than later. Why you ask? Let’s start with the facts:

  1. Microsoft’s stock performance has dropped under Ballmer: If you take a look a this chart (which ironically is provided by Yahoo), you’ll see that since 2000 (which is when Ballmer became CEO), Microsoft stock as dropped from about $60 a share to as low as just over $20 a share (it currently is hovering around $29 a share). Factoring in the .com crash in the early part of this century, that’s a sign that there have been many mis-steps along the road.
  2. Vista is a disaster: Granted, Microsoft has never shipped an OS that has worked perfectly from day one. But noting they’ve ever done has created the circus that Vista currently is. Major companies won’t switch, consumers try to avoid it, there’s a class action lawsuit that revolves around it’s inability to work on certain types of hardware, it’s the butt of jokes on late night TV, and even Apple has used it misfortunes to gain market share. It’s no shock that they’re already hinting at Windows 7 being released next year.
  3. There have been other mini disasters: The key ones that come to mind are the XBox360 “Red Ring Of Death” debacle, The Zune (which initially didn’t work under Vista, and It’s Microsoft based DRM didn’t work with any other flavor of Microsoft DRM), as well as the exodus of Microsoft employees (and not just to Google). None of that is helping to keep the ship afloat.
  4. Yahoo: The whole Yahoo buyout (which may still happen) may have been Ballmer trying to hit a bottom of the 9th home run to save his own skin. Given all that has gone on in the last 8 years, he may feel that if he doesn’t pull that off he’s screwed.

Here’s the bottom line, Microsoft needs to reinvent itself sooner rather than later before everyone goes out and buys a Mac or migrates to LINUX. To do that, it needs a transformative leader. Steve Ballmer is not that leader. The Microsoft board needs to find that person and get them in charge so that they can move Microsoft into the future.

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