Bill Gates May Be Pushed Out Of Chairman Role At Microsoft
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
A report from Reuters claims some of Microsoft’s top investors are pressing the board to dismiss co-founder Bill Gates from his role as company chairman. This report comes as the company is looking for a new CEO to replace Steve Ballmer who announced his retirement late in August.
Reuters’ inside sources say three of Microsoft’s top 20 investors are calling for Gates’ ouster. These investors, said the sources, hold more than five percent of the entire company, and it’s not yet known if the board will respond favorably to these calls. Microsoft representatives have refused to comment on the rumor.
Though he spends much of his time on philanthropic endeavors, inside sources told Reuters the three investors are worried he has too much sway within the company. The Microsoft co-founder currently owns about 4.5 percent of the company and is the largest individual shareholder, nearly matching up the more than five percent combined by these investors.
Specifically, it’s said the three investors are concerned about Gates’ role in the special CEO search committee. Not only are they worried Gates will choose someone with his best interests in mind rather than the company’s, they’re worried his very presence will stop the new chief from making pivotal and paradigm shifting changes within the company.
Bill Gates founded the software company in 1975 with partner Paul Allen. They took the company public in 1986, turning thousands of Microsoft employees into millionaires. At the time of the IPO, Gates held a 49 percent stake in the company. The company boomed in the 90s following a growing PC market and a wildly successful operating system in Windows 95.
In 2000, however, Gates began to separate himself from the company he founded in his college days. Eight years later, he focused all of his attention on his philanthropic efforts through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As a part of his agreement to step away from the company, Gates sells 80 million of his shares every year. At this rate, Gates will hold no stake in his company by 2018.
While the 90s may have belonged to Microsoft, its oldest competitor, Apple, began to gain some ground on the company, first by releasing the successful iPod, followed by the iPhone and iPad. Though Macs have never enjoyed the same massive market share as PCs, many have accused Microsoft of resting on its laurels while the competition capitalized on future markets. When the iPhone was first unveiled in January 2007, CEO Steve Ballmer famously laughed it off and said he believed Microsoft’s mobile platform would easily beat Apple’s. Windows Phone now ranks a distant third behind Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, which recently saw adoption rates as high as 36 percent within the first 24 hours of availability.
In 2011, one key investor began calling for Ballmer’s resignation, accusing him of keeping the company stuck in the past. Hedge fund manager David Einhorn, who at the time owned 9 million shares of Microsoft, called Ballmer “the biggest overhang of Microsoft stock.”