On the other end of the spectrum, I have to applaud two institutional shareholders who, according to the New York Times, approached the company to have it consider having Mr. Gates relinquish his Chairman's position because it would inhibit a new CEO from adopting radical changes from the existing strategies that have cemented the company's role as a tech follower, and a mediocre one at that.
I don't believe that either of the above two events will come to pass. Mr. Gates is having too much fun with his philanthropic projects in education and global health to return to the drudgery of extracting this company from the mud and getting its culture jump-started again. As a co-founder and large owner, he wouldn't countenance losing face by relinquishing the Chairman's role without some future bridge-building to a CEO whom he respects and who has produced some results. Too early for this.
The CEO of Ford makes the current short list of successors to Steve Ballmer. Sell the stock on the announcement of Mulally's appointment as Microsoft CEO. Watch the exodus begin on the servers and tools sides of the business. Damage control all around, because it makes no sense. Nothing else looks new, except that people like former Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha don't appear on today's list.
On the Microsoft Surface side, it's interesting to hear some different views about the Surface RT. About a year ago, writing about the launch, we made a couple of key points:
- "The question now becomes, can they act like a consumer products company and tell their story to the customer?
- "The cost of making every buyer happy is a better investment that buying back shares. That cost is just another form of advertising and brand rehabilitation." Can they commit to making buyers happy?