First they came for Ballmer. Now they're gunning for Gates. Is nothing sacred?
According to Reuters, a small but vociferous band of disgruntled Microsoft shareholders wants the head of William H. Gates III on a platter. They are apparently unhappy with the Chairman's performance. Per the report:
The three investors are concerned that Gates' presence on the board effectively blocks the adoption of new strategies and would limit the power of a new chief executive to make substantial changes.
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Why Gates, and why now? Because Gates is heading up the committee to choose Ballmer's successor. According to the usually well-informed Kara Swisher, the No. 1 candidate to take the big chair in Redmond is Ford CEO and Gates buddy Alan Mulally.
A car dude to head the world's most profitable (if also hidebound) software company? Stranger things have happened. Remember, Louis Gerstner came from Nabisco to rescue IBM from the doldrums, and John Sculley came to Apple from Pepsi. OK, scratch that last one.
To his credit, Mulally has taken a brand that was in a permanent vegetative state and make it seem almost, well, cool. (I did say "almost.") At the very least, he's rescued the Mustang from permanent decrepitude. Give him props for that.
Microsoft and Ford's cozy clinch
Mulally also has more of a connection to technology than your typical carmaker CEO; Ford and Microsoft have worked closely together for years on the Sync product that connects smartphones to Ford in-car entertainment and navigation systems. On the other hand, nobody has been handing out design accolades for that implementation either. Functional, yes, but it's like DOS on wheels. You know that Steve Jobs would have taken one look at the final product and verbally abused it until it fled in shame.
Forbes' Eric Jackson is unimpressed. He says Mulally is a "terrible choice":
He's worked at Boeing building planes and at Ford streamlining a company and building cars. But he doesn't have software experience. He doesn't even have tech experience. What are we thinking?
... It's intellectually impossible (and intellectually dishonest) to think you can come in off of a 7-year stint running an old-line car company in Detroit and then just "get up the curve" on the latest tends in cloud, big data, software, IT, outsourcing, search, consumer internet, wearable, mobile phones, and gaming to effectively manoeuvre in that new industry.