Bill Gates, founder, longtime CEO, and chairman of Microsoft, combines three rare skill sets in one person:
- He’s a brilliant programmer
- He’s a technology visionary
- He’s a cunning and aggressive business strategist with a long history of wins.
Steve Ballmer, who’s replaced Mr. Gates as Microsoft CEO, is, by contrast, a sales manager: essentially, Steve is a cheerleader. He isn’t a programmer, and reportedly lacks Mr. Gates’ vision. He may be as aggressive as Mr. Gates.
Microsoft has been stumbling for years: the Windows Vista fiasco, initial inattention to Windows security, loss of the Search market to Google, loss of embedded systems markets to open-source operating systems, are just some mis-steps. Industry pundits, including investors, have been calling for Ballmer’s ouster. Last week, I heard Kim Komando add to the chorus of “Ballmer must go!”
I suggest that Microsoft may be better served not by replacing Mr. Ballmer, but by offloading his technical and visionary responsibilities to two other people: one with programmer/technical skills and another person with vision. Allow Steve to do what he does best: sell product.
A triumvirate would complicate Microsoft’s corporate structure, but where will Microsoft find another Bill Gates?