Microsoft Investors Push for Chairman Bill Gates to Step Down

Top investors insist that Bill Gates should step down as chairman of Microsoft.

Three of the top 20 investors are lobbying for Bill Gates’ stepping down as chairman of the company he co-founded about 40 years ago. Photo: OnInnovation/Flickr

While the software company’s CEO Steve Ballmer for several years has faced pressure to improve Microsoft’s performance and share price, this time shareholders set their target at Bill Gates, who owns 4.5 percent of the company.

“There is no indication that Microsoft’s board would heed the wishes of the three investors, who collectively hold more than 5 percent of the company’s stock, according to the sources,” Reuters writes.

“They requested the identity of the investors be kept anonymous because the discussions were private.”

According to recent report, three out of twenty Microsoft’s investors are concerned that Gates as the head of the company effectively blocks new ideas and strategies and insist to replace Microsoft’s chief.

Moreover, investors are also worried that Gates – who devotes much time to needs of charity – wields power out of proportion to his declining shareholding.

After top investors demanded that Gates should step down from his post, other shareholders appeared to be concerned of the news and caused mixed reactions.

“This is long overdue,” said Todd Lowenstein, a portfolio manager at HighMark Capital Management, which owns Microsoft shares. “Replacing the old guard with some fresh eyes can provide the oxygen needed to properly evaluate their corporate strategy.”

Kim Caughey Forrest, senior analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group, said that now not the right time for Microsoft to ditch Gates, and that he could even play a larger role.

“I’ve thought that the company has been missing a technology visionary,” she said. “Bill (Gates) would fit the bill.”

The news comes a few months after Microsoft SEO Steve Ballmer announced that he would leave his post until the end of the year.

The news of Ballmer’s retirement came in August. “I’ll work closely with the other members of the board to identify a great new CEO,” said Gates. “We’re fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties.”

There are no obvious candidates to succeed Ballmer at a company that has only had two CEOs in its 38-year history. Ballmer had once indicated that he intended to stay at least until 2017.

“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said in a statement.

The company needed a leader who could see through its reorganisation and new strategy, he added. “My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

While Ballmer is expected to leave his CEO’s chair within next months, his farewell to the company’s employees has been captured in a video that reveals the passion and love he seems to have for his work.

The video for Microsoft employees begins with a red-faced and extremely sad chief executive on stage, bathed in the glare of stadium spotlights as thousands of employees look on, Mashable writes.

In what appears to be an exprompt speech, Ballmer unveiles his own vision of his love for the job and Microsoft employees.

With his voice wavering, Ballmer says, “This isn’t about any one person, it’s about the company … It’s my whole professional world. Microsoft is like a fourth child to me. Children do leave the house. In this case, I guess I’m leaving the house.”

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