Photo: Associated Press
It’s not just the media elite that have knives out for Steve Ballmer, it’s investors and ex-employees, as well.
The haters want Ballmer out and Bill Gates back in.
Why? Under Ballmer the stock has been dead and the company has failed to deliver an inspired vision for the future.
This tired vision is leaving employees desperate for the days when Bill Gates was a world beating visionary.
Here’s what one anonymous tipster wrote us about his experience at Microsoft, and his frustration with how things are going:
Ballmer likes loyalty. He rewards it handsomely and in recent years to the detriment of MS. I know of multiple mediocre managers who became his “yes” men in order to get promoted; often on the backs of their much more talented and innovative peers.
Robbie Bach is a great example of this. He oversaw a division that lost +/- $1B dollars on XBOX due to lack of quality oversight. Instead of losing his job he was promoted. Many of my former MS peers talk about the fact that the company has become a place of “waring camps”, each trying to outdo each other and killing innovation in the process. MS has gotten so big that employees have found a way to “hide”, working very little but making no waves so they can keep their jobs and their health insurance.
The biggest difference between the old days with Bill and the current situation is most easily described by this scenario: Bill: Two smart people are tasked with solving a hard problem in an innovative and interesting way. After a set amount of time both are given the opportunity to present to Bill. Bill takes both through their paces and decided which solution was the most elegant, which solution would best meet customer needs – which translated into sales. The person not chosen to build the solution and a team would be given another interesting opportunity. (Unless their idea was really stupid (one of Bill’s favourite words). The penalty for not being chosen wasn’t banishment to an irrelevant job.
Today with Steve: Two smart people are tasked with solving a hard problem in a way that will generate the most revenue for MS. Knowing that if you don’t come up with the most profitable solution means your career is over. You scheme, backbite, sabotage and otherwise undermine the other person until you have so ruined their reputation that even if they have a better idea Steve will consider them damaged goods and choose you to implement their idea. Needless to say, you spend so much time on the politics and brown nosing aspect of the process that the product solution you come up with isn’t very innovative, takes very little risk and uses the “old” tried and true MS licensing model.
Innovation takes risk, but Steve has managed to make the risk so unacceptably high that very few people are willing to take it. MS needs a new CEO who isn’t so insecure that he needs to hear his ideas are the best ones and instead someone who is willing and able to let other people in the room be super smart.
It’s too bad that Bill can’t look past his friendship to realise that Steve is making a once great company irrelevant. As a former MS employee who spent countless hours with Bill and Steve, I am sad to see where the company is headed.
Anonymous former MS employee
See Also: Meet Microsoft’s New CEO
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