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Forbes Names Microsoft's Steve Ballmer Worst CEO

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the best-aim-though dept.

Microsoft 444

New submitter _0x783czar writes "Microsoft haters gleefully have latched on to the latest scoop that a Forbes columnist has named Steve Ballmer the worst CEO. It seems that the article has leveled some strong accusations of irresponsible and ineffective business practices; claiming that Microsoft has not progressed over the last 12 years of Ballmer's leadership. (Full disclosure: I'm not a Microsoft fan myself and tend to agree with this piece.)"

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Hmmm (-1, Troll)

scubamage (727538) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004111)

I wonder if this has something to do with him being a monkey boy.

Worse? (5, Interesting)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004115)

Really? Even worse than RIM?

Re:Worse? (5, Insightful)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004141)

Yeah, why are we ignoring the many companies that have failed either because they failed to adapt or underwent gross negligence. I have a feeling that the CEOs of the major banks in the US have actively harmed every human on Earth. Ballmer has merely failed to maintain a near-monopoly status in a highly transient industry.

Re:Worse? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004237)

I think the mayor point isn't that he's failed to keep a monopolitic position, but rather that he has failed at all to capitalise on it. Like it or not, the CEO's of the banks who bankrupted the world made bundles of money in the rise, and are now making bundles of money in the fall. They managed to capitalise on a crisis, where Balmer has failed to capitalize on the position of Microsoft. Look at Apple, all it took was a small investment in R&D and suddenly they turned their computer buisness into one of the most sucessful MP3 companies, and then Phone companies. Microsoft tried to throw it's weight after these areas but failed. They even failed to win large in the console market after spending quite a bit of money in an attempt to kill Play-station (But Nintendo won that one).

Really Microsoft has been one huge investment in one field after the other, always waiting for others to be the first movers, and this has left them failing again and again.

Re:Worse? (4, Insightful)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004283)

I guess that actually makes quite a bit of sense. But even given that many of the banks would have imploded if not for the bail out, GM would be gone if not for the bail out and plenty of marginally successful companies have gone through quite a bit of economic turmoil that MS has avoided, IBM, for example, is laying of a ton of people and has been for some time now.

Even in money-making-game, I think coming up red or having to be bailed out is worse than not being black enough.

Re:Worse? (1, Offtopic)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004735)

But even given that many of the banks would have imploded if not for the bail out, GM would be gone if not for the bail out and plenty of marginally successful companies have gone through quite a bit of economic turmoil that MS has avoided

That is the failure mode. The way "leadership" is defined, MS should have dumped a multiple of their net worth into the Zune, then paid millions in campaign contributions to politicians to get billions in bailout funds. Heads we win, tails you lose.

The landscape is quite a bit different for big companies operating under a corporate owned government, than it is for, say, a cupcake store. In the world of cupcake stores, the MS strategy IS more intelligent than the GM strategy, but this article was talking about the big companies that own the govt and order it around, not a scrapbooking supplies store or other small operators like that.

MS could have paid millions to politicians to force the .mil to buy MS licenses for every Iraqi owned PC in Iraq, that would probably have a pretty good profit. Or they could have purchased politicans to declare linux distros as hacking tools and have border control sieze any laptop with linux installed, or sieze any linux install media. So many kleptocratic ways to turn billions into trillions, and instead they ... failed.

In a way, its bad news, if they get rid of Ballmer and but someone competent in his place, then the public will suffer greatly.

Re:Worse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004749)

IBM is laying off tried-and-true employees in favor of hiring 3rd world replacements at cents on the dollar with little or no benefits....IE, it has outsourced most of its business...

Re:Worse? (5, Funny)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004253)

As much as my comment history shows a clear anti-MS stance, I agree. Possibly Ballmer wasn't evil enough.

And definitely, his chairs missed too many targets.

Re:Worse? (4, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004535)

Maybe he should have asked for a government bailout, since Forbes apparently thinks that CEO's who run their companies into bankruptcy and go running to Uncle Sam to save them are still somehow better than the CEO of a very profitable company.

Re:Worse? (2, Insightful)

qu33ksilver (2567983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004335)

Seriously, where has our professionalism degraded to ? Now we are even comparing CEOs and commenting on who should be fired and hired. Is there any world-wide yardstick for any CEO that if he/she fails to achieve such and such goals, the person is worthless. Then why not apply the same to everyone ? Why only CEOs ? Adam Hartung (the guy who wrote the article), here's some advice- why don't I make a list of Forbes employees who should be fired first, and then lets see who tops the list. This article shouldn't even have been published. Shame.

Re:Worse? (2)

bickle (101226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004551)

Why only CEOs? Maybe it's because they set the direction of the company. Maybe its because they have outrageous salaries in comparison to the rest of the workforce.

Re:Worse? (4, Insightful)

gorzek (647352) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004769)

CEOs are also easy targets because they seem to get paid handsomely whether they succeed or fail. If Joe Worker screws up his job, at best he gets let go and can collect unemployment, and maybe he gets a tiny bit of severance; worst case, he's fired for cause and doesn't get a damn thing. But when Joe CEO drives a company into the ground? Not to worry, he's still gonna get his multi-million dollar golden parachute, which he'll ride right over to the next company. It's no wonder people get pissed about that disparity.

Re:Worse? (1)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004383)

Besides, Microsoft's hold on office programs and PC's operating systems is still largely unchallenged despite Vista and ribbon interface (85% instead of 90%+, no big deal considering the ever growing market). Marketing and management both played a great role in this. So, in that aspect Ballmer has not screwed up much.

True, he has not captured other markets such as mp3 players, phones or search engines, but he had not lost cashcows either despite major screwups.

Doesn't your comment speak volumes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004407)

Doesn't your comment speak volumes? You don't disagree he's a bad CEO, it's just about arguing whether he's the worst CEO on the list of CEO's who should have been fired by now.

Well since he's driving up prices at a time when he's losing market share, he's sort of speeding up their own end, so it's going to become pretty undeniable soon enough.

Re:Worse? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004161)

TFA is about CEOs currently holding that position today. The RIM CEOs are gone already.

Re:Worse? (4, Insightful)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004163)

Maybe they are looking at what Microsoft is capable of vs their leader. RIM at times sounds like a complete implosion. Microsoft produces outbursts of good ideas inspite of their leadership implying some good thinkers/workers are left.

Re:Worse? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004243)

During that time frame RIM have had both their great success and their dismal collapse. All Microsoft has been doing is slowly fading - they're not even collapsing magnificently.

Re:Worse? (3, Interesting)

fooslacker (961470) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004325)

I'm not a fan of M$ these days but still I agree. There are a ton of companies that have outright failed, lost a huge lead, or even gone down in a blazing inferno due to incompetence or outright corruption. There have to be worse CEOs. Microsoft is still massively profitable.

FTA..."Without a doubt, Mr. Ballmer is the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today."

Clearly the author is engaging in hyperbole and histrionics to gain attention for his piece. The article is about CEOs who should have been fired already which is probably a fair assessment of Ballmer but the over the top "worst CEO" stuff is silly.

Re:Worse? (3, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004751)

I'm not a fan of M$ these days but still I agree. There are a ton of companies that have outright failed, lost a huge lead,

I don't know... I can't think of any company that has blown a lead as huge as Microsoft's in as short a time, or has missed so thoroughly a major trend (mobile computing) in the consumer portion of it's market. Actually, that's not fair. Microsoft was way ahead of the curve in spotting the trend, but virtually every version of mobile OS or app they've delivered has been so bad it was dead on arrival. With resources like Microsoft's, that's almost inconceivable, let alone inexcusable.

Re:Worse? (1)

lpp (115405) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004357)

That's the first comparison that came to mind for me as well. While Microsoft might be able to be accused of not having fully leveraged their former position, they aren't exactly at the bottom rung. RIM is not only on the bottom rung, it's barely got a hold of it. I may not care for Microsoft but it seems you have to really have it out for them to put them below RIM's performance.

Re:Worse? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004393)

I would think the dude at Kodak would be at the top, at least MS isn't bankrupt.

Re:Worse? (2)

DuckDodgers (541817) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004491)

Consider their relative positions in the market. RIM was successful, but then the market started to shift with the iPhone and Android. The RIM CEOs needed to keep or grow Blackberry's market position in a fight with two competitors that both had far more money, developers, and public brand awareness than RIM itself. They should have done better, they didn't deserve their millions of dollars in compensation for total failure. But the task was difficult.

By contrast, in 2000 Microsoft had massive public awareness, a tremendous pool of intelligent talent, and a horde of cash. RIM had carved itself a happy corner in the phone market and then two juggernauts from other corners of the tech industry moved in and blew it out of the water. Microsoft was and still is one of the juggernauts, it should have stayed at the leading edge of the industry in some areas and set the curve in others - under a better leader, maybe Zune would be alive and iPod would be forgotten, Windows Phone would be alive and iPhones a niche product, Bing the leader in search, Hotmail the most popular free email service, and Windows RT tablets more popular than Android or iPads. And look beyond that, I'm using iPod, iPhone, iPad, Google Search, and Gmail as examples because they're what I know - but under good leadership maybe Microsoft would have innovated in some other completely unexpected way - a Kinect on every television, or the equivalent of the Ford Sync voice-controlled entertainment system in most cars by 2006, or pioneering the self-driving car, or whatever.

Frist! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004117)


Re:Frist! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004239)

Forbes Names Slashdot's Anonymous Coward Worst First Poster.

Fnsacwfp! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004363)


Finally! (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004131)

Something I can agree with from Forbes.

Granted, people like Lloyd Blankfein are giving him a run for his money, but yeah, seeing the horrible work on W7 and 8, Ballmer deserves the title.

Re:Finally! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004223)

I largely agree, but honestly Win 7 is the best OS that MS has ever produced. Unfortunately, it happens to be solidly mediocre and has it's own set of issues, but hey, that's what you get when you have to maintain such a large userbase and keep them happy enough not to jump ship.

Re:Finally! (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004275)

It shouldn't need to be pointed out that Microsoft still rakes in a handsome profit year after year. They're not the first company to grow into middle age and slow down. If anything it would be a miracle if they hadn't. Ballmer may not be special, maybe even lousy, but worst EVAR!!!? I would pick some of the CEOs around the world that lead us into this global recession - who not only did so but (distinguishing them from their counterparts in government) personally took home millions of tens of millions of dollars for doing so and are living lavishly to this day.

Re:Finally! (4, Insightful)

RKThoadan (89437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004519)

Keep in mind this is Forbes we're talking about. Leading the world into a massive global recession is fine if your company is able to profit from it. It's just business.

Re:Finally! (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004775)

Ballmer may not be special, maybe even lousy, but worst EVAR!!!? I would pick some of the CEOs around the world that lead us into this global recession - who not only did so but (distinguishing them from their counterparts in government) personally took home millions of tens of millions of dollars for doing so and are living lavishly to this day.

As quislings, I think the authors definition of "worst" might not quite match yours.

Re:Finally! (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004435)

seeing the horrible work on W7

Eh? Win7 was a pretty sound success for MS. W*P*7 on the other hand.....

But I like MIcrosoft more now (5, Funny)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004153)

I can now stand the thought of using Windows and Internet Explorer. Not that I do use IE, mind you... just that I wouldn't Hulk up and fling my captor through 3 or 4 cement brick walls to create an escape route.

Re:But I like MIcrosoft more now (1, Interesting)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004249)

Exactly. While Steve hasn't changed the world and Windows is still a toy OS, under his supervision Windows has become again quite nice and clean, usable package.

Fun fact: in Finland, Ballmer's nickname is sometimes "Pallomeri [] ".

Re:But I like MIcrosoft more now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004403)

"Windows is still a toy OS"? lol, your zealotry is showing.

Re:But I like MIcrosoft more now (2)

justthinkit (954982) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004409)

Fun fact: most of us can't read Finnish.

Google Translate thought the page said the following:
Ball pools is for children's playground, the floor covered with thick layers of plastic beads. [1] ball sea is generally within a few square meters the sides and the mesh or transparent wall separated from the space, which space on the floor of up to about six mils in diameter of about ten cm and having a hollow, light-weight plastic material of different colors beads . Often the ball into the sea leads to a small slide and a ladder or stair.

MÃyrivÃt are spherical and the jump in the sea and occasionally agitates the beads although it is generally prohibited. The ball is often the oceans, the upper age limit. The ball is a Marine, for example in restaurants, ferries and shopping centers.

Ball Marine is widely regarded as unhygienic places to play, in which infectious diseases are easily spread to another child, if the balls do not be washed or disinfected with sufficient frequency.

Re:But I like MIcrosoft more now (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004737)

Fun fact: most of us can't read Finnish.

Color me amazed; I've been here a while and still have some issues. BTW, the accented characters like ä and ö have to be expressed in html on Slashdot.

Google Translate thought the page said the following:

Google translate really sucks on Finnish, both in word order and in interpreting the many cases (and lack of articles). Then again, it's a non-Indo-European language in which concepts don't map too well to those of Indo-European languages and are sometimes expressed in context-dependent ways, so any mechanical translation will suck a bit. I recall that when Finland joined the EU, the professional translators in the European Parliament were confident they could master the language and provide simultaneous translation in just a few months. They were, of course, somewhat chastened and humiliated when that schedule was revised. In the end, the simultaneous translation did get going, but it was largely by recruiting people who already knew Finnish quite well (typically Finns).

Re:But I like MIcrosoft more now (2)

vrt3 (62368) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004809)

Fun fact: wikipedia's side bar provides convenient links to the same article in English (and several other languages).

Re:But I like MIcrosoft more now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004817)

why would u use google translate if there is an English option on wikipedia itself

SCO? (1, Redundant)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004155)

Darl McBride is better than Ballmer? So running your company to ridiculous profits quarter-after-quarter is worse than running your company into the ground in losing lawsuits?

Re:SCO? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004505)

Well, McBride losing was a foregone conclusion. Ballmer took the world's leading software company and.... did nothing with it. That's just not good.

Re:SCO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004781)

Scox was dead when McBride took over. Scox had never been profitable, and was on it's way out ten years ago.

If not for the scox-scam, scox would have been dead years ago.

The scox-scam was financed, promoted, and possible orchestrated, by Microsoft.

No need to say, "full disclosure". (5, Informative)

justin12345 (846440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004157)

You don't need to say full disclosure just because you hold an opinion. That phrase is used if you have a vested interest in something. For instance "Full disclosure: I own Microsoft's competitor's stock" or "Full disclosure: I have an ongoing lawsuit with Steve Ballmer, because he allegedly once threw a chair at me".

Re:No need to say, "full disclosure". (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004271)

full disclosure: I agree with this post.

Bad? (5, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004159)

Without a doubt, Mr. Ballmer is the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today. Not only has he singlehandedly steered Microsoft out of some of the fastest growing and most lucrative tech markets (mobile music, handsets and tablets) but in the process he has sacrificed the growth and profits of not only his company but âoeecosystemâ companies such as Dell, Hewlett Packard and even Nokia. The reach of his bad leadership has extended far beyond Microsoft when it comes to destroying shareholder value â" and jobs.

And that is bad how? What I mean by that is that I sympathize with Microsoft share holders but I also regularly thank a long list of deities that Microsoft does not dominate the mobile music, handset, and tablet markets as well as desktop computing.

Re:Bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004231)

Because he's not supposed to be representing you unless you own stock in MS.

Re:Bad? (5, Insightful)

IRWolfie- (1148617) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004251)

While no fan of Microsoft or their products, in recent years Microsoft has enjoyed record profits and I don't think "Windows 7 and Office 2010 did nothing to excite tech user" from the article is exactly true either.

Re:Bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004285)

That's pretty bad leadership... yes. I mean, you didn't think Microsoft ventured into the mp3/phone and tablet market in order to.... not make money, right?

Re:Bad? (2)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004423)

I'd much rather have leadership that tried and failed in new markets than leadership that was afraid to even attempt diversification. Those failures haven't run Microsoft into the ground, seems like their risk was well worth a shot. The Xbox is a success, so they don't always fail to penetrate new markets. Do you really expect any company to succeed with new products 100% of the time?

Who's Going to Remove Him? (5, Insightful)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004165)

I've always felt that they've wasted a lot of money trying to expand into new lines of businesses. Money that would have been well spent either giving it back to stockholders as dividends. But even new lines of business that are doing well (not considering the massive investment in them so the ROI may still stink) like Bing and XBox would probably benefit the stockholders as a spinoff.

If it was up to me, I would break the company apart into 3 or 4 companies and allow the non-Windows companies to develop for all sorts of platforms. But what do I know?

That said, who's going to remove him? Bill Gates? Does Paul Allen still hold a significant stake in the company? Who owns what share of the voting stock? And who makes up the board?

I don't see Ballmer leaving anytime soon unless the investors start getting upset. And if 30% of the company (and I'm pulling that number out of thin air) is held by Gates and Ballmer, that doesn't seem likely.

More! (5, Insightful)

AntEater (16627) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004187)

Personally, I hope Ballmer has a very long tenure at Microsoft and that the past twelve years or so are only the beginning of his impact on that company.

Ineffective (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004197)

I am a Microsoft fan and I agree with this piece. I dont really know what he adds as CEO as I hate to listen to him speak. I'm embarrassed for him when I watch him give speeches.

I disagree... (5, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004219)

I think he is the best thing ever for the company, and they need to keep him on for the next 50 years. Windows Phone is flying off the shelves and outselling iPhone and Android phones combined!

As a FOSS guy, I think Microsoft is doing a stellar job and needs to continue under this mans direction.

Re:I disagree... (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004303)

I tend to agree. The Windows Phone is the best one out there right now. It's not a popularity contest for me, unlike with so many others.

Re:I disagree... (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004347)

I tend to agree. The Windows Phone is the best one out there right now. It's not a popularity contest for me, unlike with so many others.

No its about what, ironically, Ballmer said best "Developers!, Developers!, Developers!".... and the applications they create.

I like Sears (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004221)

Don't know why, I just do.

Where's Elop? (5, Insightful)

hydrofix (1253498) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004227)

I can't believe Stephen Elop of Nokia is not on that list. During his stint as the CEO of the former world leader in mobile phones, the company has lost 70% of its market valuation – mostly down to Elop's borderline insane strategic choices. Maybe the list is only for US companies?

Re:Where's Elop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004329)

They put him on the list, but he reorganized it.

Though seriously, how Nokia is even alive today with they complete organisation restructurering every 2 years, and 200 completely independent different design teams independently designing near identical handsets (though different colors and slightly different button-shapes!) with 5 different software suits serving the exact same purpose. I is beyond me.

Re:Where's Elop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004579)

And Elop too is working for MS when it's trying to monopolize mobile business too using it's pc-monopoly.

Re:Where's Elop? (4, Interesting)

c (8461) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004603)

> I can't believe Stephen Elop of Nokia is not on that list.

TFA "credits" Ballmer for the destruction of Nokia and others in the Microsoft ecosystem. Since Nokia is now a Microsoft subsidiary in all but name, I'm not sure it's much of a stretch.

Give the man a break... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004241) lest he is well known for CHAIRity!

Bah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004255)

I don't want to see chief chair thrower go, really. Run that moloch into the ground and free up some space for innovation, I say. Give the man a medal when he succeeds. Call it a service to humanity.

OK... and? (4, Insightful)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004263)

Well, he was the first business manager for the company. I guess Forbes is saying that he didn't learn much about the business in his 32 years there. Funny enough, this isn't a bunch of Linux/Apply fanbois throwing this out there... It's Forbes.

I do take issue them using the share value being used as his barometer. Yes, MS was $60 a share in 2000. Every share of anything that was remotely tech related was horrendously overinflated in 2000. The fact that the share is still worth $30 is impressive despite the other detriments listed in this article. It's a nitpick, and otherwise, I think the article is fair.

Re:OK... and? (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004585)

Funny enough, this isn't a bunch of Linux/Apply fanbois throwing this out there... It's Forbes.

So what? Forbes doesn't write a word unless it's

* pleasing to a potential advertiser,
* pleasing to the majority of readers,
* it makes the stock they own rise (or the stock their friends own, or their readers own), or
* they're simply paid for it.

They are corporate courtesans extraordinaire. Sometimes, they happen to say something that isn't wrong, but you can be confident that's just a happy accident.

Good news (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004265)

This is good news. The world doesn't need a more effective Microsoft.

However a poster above makes a good point about Stephen Elop of Nokia deserving this title.

Last 12 years were tough (4, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004273)

Dot-com flameout, 9/11, housing and banking collapse in the US, combined with market saturation in the PC space and getting trounced by Apple on the high end ... I'm not sure what he could have done. Contrast Gates, who rode the Windows95 wave to fame and bailed at the right time. Maybe Ballmer's winning move was not to play.

Re:Last 12 years were tough (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004417)

I'm pretty sure he'll take the $15 million over not playing.

Of course when you $15 billion maybe $15 million doesn't see like much, then again greed knows no bounds.

Re:Last 12 years were tough (4, Insightful)

thoth (7907) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004605)

Times were tough, but somehow Google prospered, Apple prospered, etc. Read the article, it points out the under his leadership, Microsoft has avoided all current growth markets. Yes they are still profitable, but a decade of no visible vision of the future isn't a good sign. They've been basically chasing other companies this whole time.

Re:Last 12 years were tough (2)

SirFatty (1940968) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004733)

Rode Windows 95? Really, are you that thick? How about he oversaw it, and made that reality. Rode it. You're a fucking moron.

Microsoft haters (4, Funny)

lwriemen (763666) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004281)

Actually Microsoft haters should view this as bad news, because it might lead to Ballmer being replaced by someone competent. What Microsoft needs is someone who turns the company away from the anti-compete, monopoly stances; this is what most of the haters are really against. Of course, Microsoft has the Windows albatross around their neck, and it has lock-in built into it. How long would it take for Microsoft to make Windows a good choice to compete in an open market? Could they survive embracing ODF in Office, releasing their licenses on OS/2, dropping Direct for open hardware interface standards, porting their application software to Linux ...?

Re:Microsoft haters (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004323)

ow long would it take for Microsoft to make Windows a good choice to compete in an open market? Could they survive embracing ODF in Office, releasing their licenses on OS/2, dropping Direct for open hardware interface standards, porting their application software to Linux ...?

Oh, that's hilarious. Good troll.

Re:Microsoft haters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004459)

I think it's pretty clear that the board of directors for Microsoft do not make decisions based on what outsiders think.

Faces (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004291)

I wonder what Ballmer will pull out from his collection of ludicrous facial expressions to respond to this comment?

blah blah profit blah share price blah (5, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004293)

What a load of garbage. Forbes is all about share price. That's a moronic litmus test of a CEO. Share price has no direct connection, and often not even an indirect connection to a CEO's abilities.

Indeed (4, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004593)

And we tend to forget that herdthink (yes, market traders are sheep, just very aggressive sheep) determines share price and is often clueless. At one time all the traders thought that companies that actually made stuff were worthless and you could barely give away shares in Rolls-Royce. At that time the MD remarked "They seem not to realise that if we stopped making things tomorrow we would still be in business profitably servicing our products 70 years later". But (with exceptions like Warren Buffet) the idea is not to invest to make money; it is to fool other people into doing what you want, manipulating prices to your advantage: not only is modern investment a casino, but the actual objective is to tilt the roulette table without others noticing.

From that point of view Microsoft will always be badly run because it is quite hard to distort its share price owing to the very public visibility of its products. Google, Apple and other companies whose value is hard to work out are wonderful because traders can profit going down as well as up.

Re:blah blah profit blah share price blah (2)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004785)

I would consider overall health and future outlook to be far more interesting. Has the company lost market share? No. Is it profitable? Yes. Could it make more money? Maybe. Could it have gone down the drain like RIM, Nokia partly IBM, the banking or automotive sector? No. Is there any major threat to the company in the future? No. Is buying their stock risky? No. Has Linux or MacOS cost it any significant market share? No.
The had several more or less expensive "toy projects" (compared to overall revenue) of which some failed (ie bing) and some prosper (xbox).
There are so many morally challenged bastards and or idiot CEOs that drove their companies (and in some cases the whole economy) into the ground, lost billions of money and then left with loads of cash. Bashing Microsoft is always a fun sport, but in this case there are far more worthy targets.

Article is delusional (5, Interesting)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004331)

Now, I don't like Steve Ballmer, but to say that he is an incompetent CEO is absurd. Under his watch, company revenues and profits have increased VERY significantly and that's what the CEO is responcible for. I can sympathize with the shareholder gripes that MSFT stock price hasn't really gone anywhere over the past decade, but that's because the starting point (10-12 years ago) was a completely ridiculous overvaluation of the tech boom. I can easily name several other major companies whose stock has gone nowhere for a long time despite company earnings growing consistently and their future looking as bright as ever.

Re:Article is delusional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004529)

I hate MS business practices, and most MS products.

But, from a purely financial perspective, it's hard to call Ballmer a failure.

I disagree (4, Insightful)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004337)

10 years ago Windows was cesspool of malware on unmanaged PCs (home users) - yes there's always room to improve here, but Windows 7/8 is markedly more hardened to attack than XP RTM was, MSFT profits came from 100% Windows & Office, Windows Servers were a joke, and the XBox was laughed at like Windows Phone is by some today.

I'm happy with the direction MSFT is going; Windows Servers especially now are serious contenders in the enterprise (and bring in serious cash now), Office is moving in many directions at once (Office 365, iOS, Metro), the online services are growing too (Bing, albeit slowly, SkyDrive - making Google look out of date), and the XBox has come into its' own. Not everything's perfect of course; WP7 has the most room here, but the reviews of people using it are generally very positive and the Nokia effect has yet to be fully realised. Not to mention Windows 8 will unify 1 OS across many many device-types & form-factors (although again, to what extent this will be successful is as yet unclear - the direction is a good one IMO). There're some real assets in MSFT, despite what you might hear on slashdot.

Anyway, I know this is a unpopular opinion here and I fully expect to be patronised with snarky replies because of it, but honestly I think Ballmer has done some good things for MSFT. Not perfect, and he'll never have the cult-like status Jobs or even Gates did but people underestimate him IMO. That's just my 2cents.

Re:I disagree (1)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004499)

I think the failure to move into the mobile and cloud computing markets when there was still a big chunk of market share to be had, will overshadow those achievements. Being late to those parties has put Microsoft at risk of long term irrelevance.

Re:I disagree (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004783)

I reluctantly agree with you. As a mild anti-Microsoft fanboy and a lifetime avid gamer i'm pissed that they were able to use monopoly profits from another industry to leverage their way into the video game industry (they poured billions of dollars into the project without the original XBox ever making a profit) but claiming that that division isn't a big success now would be a pretty serious case of denialism.

Not sure if fair or not (1)

sideslash (1865434) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004355)

Ballmer is the opposite of charismatic, and a lot of people find him annoying to look at or listen to.

But on the other hand, the worst criticism that can be leveled him is that Microsoft is making merely boat-loads of money instead of uber-boat-loads of money. Is that fair? I dunno. That's above my pay grade.

It's wrong, but... (1)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004379)

There's no way Ballmer is the worst CEO, but he's not a good one either. The question is, who would you put in his place when most of the existing management team are just as culpable for the misteps of the last 10 years as Ballmer is?

I am no fan of Microsoft, but ... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004389)

Can any one man manage a company with 600 million customers? The sheer size and magnitude of that company makes it impossible to manage or run. The number of layers of management makes it very difficult to see vested interests, empire builders, incompetents... Apparently Microsoft has this compensation model where some people make it to "partner" level. They get a cut in the revenue stream of the products they manage. If this is true, it would lead to perverse incentives. Failure that big is rarely one man's fault.

Ballmer has a monopoly mentality (5, Interesting)

23940823908235908 (940365) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004391)

Ballmer's concept of business is stuck in the Windows XP days, when competitors feared Microsoft's entry into a market. Back in those days, Microsoft could get away with releasing half-baked products, and competitors would run off, knowing that MS's resources would demolish them. Microsoft's mindset was to prevent competitors from entering markets.

The problem now is that it's not 2001 and Microsoft is no longer in a monopoly position. Instead of leveraging their Office and OS market share, they have to enter new markets and win new customers. And they're really struggling at doing this. To win from the ground up Microsoft products would need to have compelling advantage over their competitors, whether it be price, features, or relationship with customers.

How Microsoft went about Windows Phone 7 is an example of their old, "monopoly" playbook failing to work in a new market. Microsoft saw that a market existed, and went to enter the market using the old approach: build a 'good enough' product and hope that competitors give up in fear. The results (which Microsoft refuse to publish out of embarrassment) speak for themselves. Microsoft didn't compete on price - their phones were at mid-level prices, their features were lacking compared to the competition, and any relationship with customers (e.g. enterprise customers using Exchange and Active Directory, etc) failed to materialise because MS didn't implement critical security 'lock down' features on the phone. Microsoft technical staff have the know-how to do these things - but they just don't seem to happen. Is it the management structures? the reward mechanisms? or the corporate strategy? internal politics? .. certainly it's a combination of factors. Thigns are systemically wrong with the whole organisation.

In short, Microsoft is failing at a strategic level. No-one is excited about Microsoft products anymore. No-one thinks their products will be better value or cheaper than the competitors. No-one feels that Microsoft is listening especially closely to anyone except themselves. Microsoft's actions are decidedly tactical, rather than strategic: a new user interface here, some more features there. But without a strategic - CEO - level change, I can't see their situation improving. Having diversified so much, Microsoft will not collapse overnight, but it will continue to slide into irrelevance.

Full disclosure ... ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004401)

Surely "Full disclosure: I'm a Slashdot subscriber" would have covered it.

Steve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004411)

Haters gonna hate. Ignore them, you're doing fine.

Wait, What? (4, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004413)

I'm no fan of Ballmer, but Yahoo Guy who lied on his resume, his seat isn't even cold yet. And a lot of companies (Best Buy *cough*) are doing a flaming crash into the ground right now! Ballmer may not have driven massive innovation or exhibited the technical and financial genius seen at Apple or Google, but at least he hasn't driven the company into the ground! And what about Rupert Murdoch? His performance since they caught his cronies hacking everyone's voice mail has hardly been stellar! If I had to pick a company that I thought would be a steaming pile of wreckage in the next year or two, I'd guess News Corp.

Nope, I'm going to have to say Forbes is off base here. There are too many other CEOs driving their companies or our economy into the ground. Even if you stipulate that they must still be employed so that you can fire them, Ballmer might be in the top 10, but I don't think he'd make the top 5 much less number 1.

It's gotten hard to hate on Microsoft. (5, Interesting)

Apuleius (6901) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004429)

16 years ago, the mere mention of Gates or Ballmer would be enough to get me foaming at the mouth.


Gates is on track to wipe out polio. And Ballmer? What's to hate? Anti-competitive practices? Apple's a far bigger concern.

What else?

Pollution? Political corruption? Financial malfeasance? Mistreatment of employees? Microsoft does none of this.

And to boot, their product line continues to improve. Can't get the hate going anymore.

Forbes is smoking crack - S&P500 is flat (3, Interesting)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004439)

If Forbes is using STOCK PRICE as a barometer of how good the CEO is, well, then every company on the S&P500 is the worst CEO of all time.

For the last decade, the S&P500 has remained essentially flat, while CEO compensation has gone up 500% -- Companies may be getting more profitable, but that value is going right into someone's pocket, it's not going to share value, it's not going to re-investment, and it's not going to jobs.

Forbes is drinking the kool-aid, and is missing the big picture. In fact, this article is probably fluff to distract us from the *REAL* story, that the market itself is failing.

Take Friday's big relevation that a certain big bank lost $2 billion is a bad trade. Do any of you actually believe that hogwash? We're talking about a company big enough to manipulate the market in their favor, every time. We're talking a bank, an organization that can't lose money because of the way the entire game is rigged -- only an idiot could lose money at a bank.

No, that money's not lost, it's in someone's pocket.We're just being told it's lost so no one goes looking for it because we're the ones who were robbed.

Steal $100 and go to jail. Steal a billion and cover it up properly, and you retire in Bolivia.

More or less correct (2)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004643)

As Fred Schwed remarked all those years ago after the Wall Street Crash, you have to remember that every one of those shares that someone had to sell at the bottom of the market had a buyer who then watched them go up.

However, we now see share prices swing on relatively small trading volumes. Therefore, it is possible to show a big paper gain or loss based on a small amount of market manipulation; the actual total reported value of shares in the market shows a net gain or fall, though it can only be tested when they are actually sold.

Are you kidding me? (4, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004497)

Look Ballmer is a douche, no doubt. But worst CEO, compared to the putzes who ran almost every bank, Chrystler, and GM into bankruptcy? Compared to Scott Thompson? Jerry Yang?

He may be a dick, but I don't see MS going bankrupt or asking for government bailouts.

it does'nt matter for a monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004525)

When you don't have to compete, just run dictatorship, anyone bad enough can do it.

Stock Price? (3, Insightful)

jdev (227251) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004541)

The author criticizes Balmer for the stock not getting back to it's high of $60/share. You can dismiss this article just based on that criticism. Microsoft's stock price skyrocketed to that during the 2000 tech craze and was seriously overvalued at that point. Balmer had nothing to do with the stock price tanking at that point. Reality did.

Stock price is also an incomplete measure of a company's performance. The article fails to mention that Microsoft has steadily paid out dividends or made a special distribution of $3/share in the fall of 2004. That kind of activity isn't reflected in stock price.

I'll be fine with criticizing Microsoft for underperforming. Sure, they haven't found ways to capitalize on their monopoly power in the OS market. The sensationalistic opinions here don't mean much though.

your old stuff was better (2)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004583)

"...products so lacking in any enhanced value that they left customers scrambling to find ways to avoid upgrades"

Whether it's Ballmer's fault or not, this is one of the most damning failures of Microsoft as a company. With the possible exception of invisible stability/security fixes, nothing that Microsoft has added to Windows or Office in the past 10 years makes me want to upgrade, and the hassles of adapting to the arbitrary changes make me want to stay put. Even Adobe, which also struggles with mature, feature-complete products such as Photoshop and Illustrator, has managed to introduce some new features here and there that make me wish I could afford to upgrade those. But Windows 7 and Office 2010 just remind me that Windows XP and Office 2003 already work pretty well for me.

Microsoft has become an aging rock band, whose biggest hits are all behind them, and whose longtime fans would kinda rather hear the old stuff in concert, rather than songs from the latest album.

Hey, it ain't all his fault to be honest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40004689)

While Steve certainly isn't helping, it wasn't his fault to begin with.

Ol' Billy boy absolutely destroyed what Windows could have been.
Instead of them doing things first, everyone else did and they played catch-up because they tried to use their size to crush everyone else who tried to innovate.
Instead of creating a marketplace for developers, they shunned them.
Instead of helping the efforts with the web, they forced their own extensions to it and used their size to essentially force everyone to work with IE or nothing.

Then they went and backstabbed the entire industry with Vista Capable nonsense, including even their best buds Intel.
The only friends Microsoft have now are companies they have bought.

Think how different the world would have been if Microsoft had turned their download store in to a fully fledged application store for developers.
If they made things easy to work with.
If they took the good parts of Linux, the fact that any piece can be switched in and out at each layer of the OS and typically work quite happily together, and done that with Windows.

No. None of that. We'll be having none of that customization. None at all. You will have crap shiny GPU-using themes or crappy themes. You will be having an obtuse menu system we call Ribbon that is the cross between a desktop and tablet interface on a desktop OS. Enjoy your wasted space.
Toolbars? PAH, who uses them? Everyone you say? Still, don't you just like Ribbon? We invented that you know. (I'm seriously not even kidding about this part, their own blog has this quite literally in numbers and they still made this crap, completely ignoring all the numbers)
You'll have our interface. You will have our menu systems. You will have our terrible security system that isn't even secure at all and just likes to bug you until you turn it off. (and was broken before it was even released)

Microsoft have been dying a slow, painful death for the past 15 years.
They could have been such a good thing for the world. Instead, they destroyed everything they could have been and instead became this horrible slime monster that smells of sewers, going around towns devouring entire buildings.
No wonder Bill left. Even he couldn't control it.

Windows 7... (1)

MoldySpore (1280634) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004695)

...was my idea, according to Microsoft. Steve Ballmer is definitely the worst CEO ever, giving away ideas like that.

Scoop? (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004745)

FTFS "Microsoft haters gleefully have latched on to the latest scoop"

Microsoft investors have known for a decade.

It's only the "true believers" that haven't seen it.


Michael Dell (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40004803)

Remember Dell? Dell stock languishes in the low teens. It hasn't been the same since he hired the carpet baggers.
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