updated 12:05 pm EDT, Thu July 22, 2010
Ballmer may be ousted over share price
Pressure is mounting inside Microsoft to replace its CEO Steve Ballmer after years of lukewarm performance, sources said this morning. Executives are happy with the solid financial performance but are increasingly frustrated that Ballmer has done nothing exciting enough at Microsoft to raise its share price. If he doesn't act within the next six to nine months, there may be a 'mutiny' that forces the executive out, according to Daily Beast insiders.
Calls for a change of executives allegedly grew loudest once Apple passed Microsoft's market cap; the symbolic milestone put the iPhone creator's value to shareholders above that of Microsoft, even if Microsoft was still a larger revenue generator. Microsoft recently retook its position but, as of Thursday, had already lost it again after an Apple share rally.
The software giant has had a history of stagnant share prices that began in 2001, roughly a year after Ballmer took over from Bill Gates as CEO. Its price has been trapped below $30 for nearly all of the past decade and saw its biggest move only when the world economic collapse brought its share price below $20. Its share of the desktop OS market has remained flat or even slightly declined, while ventures such as Xbox, Zune and online services have either had modest success or stood as money-losing ventures. It plans a full attack on tablets but has yet to see a partner ship a significant competitor to the iPad.
Independent sources have yet to corroborate the story; at present, there haven't been clear signs of dissent at the top levels of the company. Among those below, however, calls have been put out for a major change in leadership as many executives still continue to work for Microsoft after high-profile failures, such as Microsoft Kin lead Roz Ho, even as successful executives have chosen early departures.
Microsoft is due to report its latest fiscal results today and may face some reckoning at the time, as it's suspected the revenue kick from the iPad, along with improving iPhone and Mac sales, may have put Apple's revenue much closer to that of Microsoft's.