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Can there be a Microsoft without Bill Gates?

The answer is yes, of course. This multi-billion-dollar juggernaut will roll along regardless of who’s chairing the board. The bigger question is would it be better off with a new CEO and a new chairman both learning new, very big jobs, together.

On the plus side, however you feel about Bill Gates, he built a software colossus out of the company he co-founded with Paul Allen 39 years ago. to recap, Bloomberg reported Thursday that the Microsoft board is close to naming Satya Nadella as the next CEO — which would be news. Bigger news was the contention that the board may ask Gates to relinquish his chairmanship.

Image (1) billgates.jpg for post 75207He was the first CEO and has remained chairman of the board after handing that job over to his friend (well then-friend anyway) and colleague Steve Ballmer in January 2000. Even folks who derided early Windows as derivative and buggy, will admit that Gates’ “information at your fingertips” vision resonated and helped drive Windows and Office onto hundreds of millions of PCs and then made Windows Server a power player in server operating systems.

But the visionary had his blind spots. As we wrote a few months ago while Ballmer got most of the blame for Microsoft’s poor stock performance, it was Gates who was in charge when Microsoft “missed” the Internet. And insiders said it was mostly Gates who kept pushing to cram more and more features into Windows Vista which turned up both late and profoundly flawed. The Vista mess contributed to Microsoft’s late entry into mobile.

Now, Microsoft is trying to be many things besides the PC and server OS and apps giant it already is. It’s pushing Bing search (vs. Google(s goog)); Xbox (vs Apple(s aapl), Sony et al); Windows Phone (vs. Apple, Samsung and the Android cabal); business applications (vs. SAP(s sap), Oracle(s orcl), crm)) and Windows Azure (vs. Amazon Web Services, and clouds freom everyone else). You get the picture.

So does a new CEO — presumably Satya Nadella — do better without the company founder hanging over his shoulder — or does he need that corporate memory to help guide him. The other question is whether Gates, who is running a huge philanthropic organization, has the bandwidth to do more than second guess whoever becomes the CEO.

So I’m asking you readers– serious question — Should Gates stay or should Gates go? Please use comments below to weigh in.

9 Responses to “Can there be a Microsoft without Bill Gates?”

  1. I’m not really a fan of Windows 8. It could use some overhaul. Bill Gates does have the right to stay with the company he founded. But if he wants MS to continue he should let younger fresher talent steer the ship with little interruption from him

  2. pauliusval99

    Well, Bill Gates started this machine and he deserves to keep controlling it as much as he wants. The only problem I see in his management is that sometimes he pushes new features so fast that some users dislike them, because they couldn’t get used to the news so quickly… Though this problem is being fixed as MS is going to release more frequent and smaller updates – that means giving people time to get used to the new things, one thing by another.
    So my answer is no. Gates is doing very well. Do you think YOU are perfect? After all, he’s a human, like everybody else, and humans make mistakes. And his mistakes are not too big to kick him out. (BTW, i don’t see a single negative aspect in windows 8, so STFU to all haters)

  3. John Nemesh

    The better question is can Microsoft recover from the bloody mess he left? Under Ballmer, they have pissed off his hardware partners, driving HP and others to invest more in MS alternatives, they have ignored backlash against “Metro”, they have run one of the mobile phone leaders into the ground with Windows Phone, and, with their willing collusion with the NSA (despite official denials, they can’t deny that they were the FIRST to sign onto PRISM…what else are they SECRETLY agreeing to?), they are alienating multinational corporations and foreign governments, which are the life-blood of Microsoft’s revenue!

    I give them 5-8 years, by then it will be broken up, reorganized, or sold off. They are done, stick a fork in ’em!

  4. Both Gates and Ballmer need to leave the board of directors. The new CEO needs to be giving space to make decisions and lead the company. That can’t happen with the founders so heavily involved.

    What if the new CEO decides that the best thing to do is to focus on enterprise software and to scrap the whole devices company idea. He/She would never be given the space to do that with Ballmer and Gates around.

    Look Gates and Ballmer started the company but they now own less than 10% of it. The company needs to be run for the benefit of *all* shareholders.

    • Tanya Natalich

      очень точно сказано: компания должна быть запущена в интересах всего человечества.