In an exclusive report from Reuters, Microsoft insiders who refused to be named said that three of the top 20 investors for Microsoft Corp were calling for Bill Gates to step down as chairman of the corporation.
According to the unnamed sources, the three top investors are apprehensive that after Steve Ballmer's resignation, Mr Gates' presence as chairman on the board will hinder innovative plans and vision of a future chief executive who should primarily decide and make changes to the corporation. They also expressed doubts about Mr Gates decision making as being a member of the special committee searching for Mr Ballmer's replacement.
The top three investors also think that Mr Gates' involvement with his philanthropic foundation had affected his declining shareholding with Microsoft.
As much as these investors, who owned more than 5 per cent of Microsoft's stock, acknowledged Mr Gates' great achievements in the technology industry, they felt that he will be best utilised as the chief executive of Microsoft Corp more than as chairman.
Microsoft Corp has yet to comment about the issue.
Mr Gates owns approximately 4.5 percent of the $227 billion-worth company. He is the lone shareholder with the largest share in the company. However, he had been selling about 80 million Microsoft shares per year under a pre-set plan. As predicted, this will leave him with no financial stake in the company by 2018. According to the report, Mr Gates had focused much of his time and money to the $38 billion -worth Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
As much as Microsoft remain the world's most valuable technology companies, its Windows computing operating system and Office software suite were declining as smartphones and tablets were becoming more popular as the years come. In fact, Microsoft was already lagging behind from Apple Inc and Google Inc in terms of the mobile computing industry.
Any Ulterior Motives to It?
In an article from USA Today, several industry analysts expressed their first take about the issue.
"If both Gates and Ballmer are out, and better capital allocators are in, Microsoft's stock will hit $40 within the next several months. If Gates announces his resignation, the stock will rally. If good capital allocators take over the top two spots at Microsoft, the whole world will wish it listened to me one of the few dozen times I recommended the stock since I first started covering it in 2006," Dan Ferris of the investment analyst, Stansberry & Associates Investment Research stated.
"The bigger issue is, now that Ballmer is being replaced, who will lead? Gates and Ballmer have essentially veto power over the selection process that not much will change, and the replacement will be cut from the same cloth. If you eliminate the existing chair and limit the influence of Ballmer on the selection process, you're more likely to get someone that can take Microsoft in a needed new direction. That would be the best outcome, in my opinion," explained Jack Gold, analyst from J. Gold Associates.
"Whether they'll be successful or not is uncertain - it's anything but easy to show the world's second-richest man the door. But even wildly successful founders can't remain immune to their companies' ills forever," remarked by Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
"The concern is that with both Gates and Ballmer leaving, this may introduce uncertainty beyond initial reaction by active investors. One view of Microsoft is that there is a lot that can go wrong that still hasn't." stated Al Hilwa, software development analyst at IDC.
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