Joachim Kempin, former Microsoft executive, has penned a less-than-favorable book about the company and its current CEO, Steve Ballmer, who takes some flack from the author.
Kempin writes about how Microsoft foresaw the major moves in technology in the last decade, but bungled its entry into tablets, phones and social media, ceding leadership in the technology world to Apple Inc and others.
In his book Kempin talks about the time, when he worked for the company. He says Microsoft bungled its entry into a number of new product areas, and jettisoned a number of talented executives, because they were viewed as a threat to Mr Ballmer.
According to Kempin, Ballmer ensures his position as top dog by bumping possible rivals out of the running. In order to pull out of its rut, says the author, Microsoft must make a change in management.
Kempin charges Ballmer with purposefully ousting any executives with potential to wrest him from the CEO seat, which he has occupied since 2000.
“For Microsoft to really get back in the game seriously, you need a big change in management,” said Joachim Kempin, who worked at Microsoft between 1983 and 2002, overseeing the sales of Windows software to computer makers for part of that time. “As much as I respect Steve Ballmer, he may be part of that in the end.”
Several Microsoft executives have left the company over the years, including Steven Sinofsky and Richard Belluzzo.
“He (Belluzzo) had no room to breathe on the top. When you work that directly with Ballmer and Ballmer believes ‘maybe this guy could someday take over from me’, my God, you will have less air to breathe, that’s what it comes down to.”
Kempin isn’t Ballmer’s only critic, with others having petitioned over the years for him to step-down from his position. Still, Kempin stresses that he doesn’t dislike Ballmer, stating specifically that he “respects [the] guy” and that he’s a good business man.
“Is he a great CEO? I don’t think so. Microsoft’s board is a lame duck board, has been forever. They hire people to help them administer the company, but not to lead the company. That’s the problem,” said Kempin.
Mr Kempin was in charge of selling Windows software to computer makers, and said Microsoft’s recent move to make their own tablet device – the Surface – and an upcoming notebook PC, would cause major problems with the company’s existing partners.
“Just think about the insult of Microsoft coming out with a tablet themselves, trying to mimic Apple, and now they are going to come out with a notebook on top of it,” Mr Kempin is quoted as saying.
As the Reuters reports, Kempin said he spoke to Ballmer around two years ago and expressed his concerns about his management style and direction of the company, but has seen no changes since. He said he sent Ballmer and Gates copies of his new book but has yet to get a reply.
Kempin is the top-most former executive to publish such criticism of the company. The book in question is titled Resolve and Fortitude: Microsoft’s “secret power broker” breaks his silence,” and is set to hit shelves this coming Tuesday, January 22.