One can get the feeling that something is wrong at Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT). The truth of the matter is that the Seattle, Washington-based software giant just has not come up with a product to draw in consumers.
Like other companies the best thing to do is get rid of the CEO when things go wrong. Or at least this was the strategy in place when Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers went under after the subprime mortgage crisis that led to a global credit crunch swivelling into an economic downturn in 2008.
It is true that the 'lame duck' CEO Steve Ballmer has not been very proactive or at least visibly so. Perhaps the biggest testimony to that are Microsoft's shares: they've been hovering around $25-$30 for about ten years. And that's the same time frame that one would assume Mr. Ballmer has been CEO. Before he took over, the Redmond-headquartered software firm was priced at a whopping $60/share.
And we really can't tell what he's been doing in Redmond St. Not a whole lot because Mr. Ballmer outed Windows XP, and he probably brainstormed ideas related to MSN Live and Windows Phone concepts. Unfortunately, some of the ideas on Cloud, Internet and smartphone technologies had to be scrapped, while Cupertino, California firm Apple Inc revolutionized the industry with the latest version of the iPhone - iPhone 5.
And did Microsoft challenge Apple Inc's products like the iPad, iPad mini and perhaps a low cost smartphone for China? No. And the windows phone was no challenge for Samsung smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S4. No matter how you slice it, it does seem like someone with the calibre of Chairman Bill Gates, has been away for a long time. Further to that, someone with that calibre needs to come back and take the reins before Microsoft undergoes an irreversible metamorphosis into the mundane tech firm without innovation and creativity at its forefront.
Though Mr. Gates or Dr. Gates, now that he has an honorary degree from Harvard, has been following his philanthropic interests, it would be wise for him to return to Microsoft as CEO to get the momentum flowing again. Mr. Ballmer has been CEO since 2000 and he has been with the firm since 1980.
Long-time Microsoft shareholder David Einhorn, Greenlight Capital fund manager spoke at the Ira Sohn Investment Research Conference, New York saying Mr. Ballmer's "continued presence is the biggest overhand on Microsoft's stock," the freelibrary.com reported.
"Ballmer's problem is that he's stuck in the past," Einhorn was quoted as saying. "He's allowed competitors to beat Microsoft in huge areas, including search, mobile-communications software, tablet computing and social networking."
Last year, Forbes listed Mr. Ballmer as "the #1 CEO on Forbes' Top 5 CEOs Who Should Have Already Been Fired."
The report by Forbes said, "Not only has he (Ballmer) singlehandedly steered Microsoft out of some of the fastest growing and most lucrative tech markets (mobile music, handsets and tablets) but in the process he has sacrificed the growth and profits of not only his company but 'ecosystem' companies such as Dell, Hewlett Packard and even Nokia."
That's pretty much covers the whole caboodle in terms of job performance and the Internet community would agree that Microsoft is seeing lacklustre performance.
Though it might make sense to research the history of the company and its record in the tech industry before speculating on who might be the next Microsoft CEO, a hefty shoe size to fill, it's the bookies that have been doing this for a long time. And they seem to know exactly what's going on.
Top Picks for Microsoft CEO (Source: Selected from Abridged version,Ladbrokes.com) Ladbrokes is headquartered in Harrow, UK, and owns approximately 3,000 firms in the European and UK betting industry in addition to its Internet facilities. When the Royal Baby was born, Ladbrokes had 500-1 Odds that he would be named Elvis. It's a good thing those odds were high!
Top Pick for CEO:
Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and richest man in the world; well qualified to lead any company, good leadership qualities and he's done it before. (Ladbrokes gives Mr. Gates 50-1 odds). As far as logistics is concerned, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation can be taken care of Melinda Gates with the Master of Money, Warren Buffett looking over her shoulders.
The favourite for the CEO post at Microsoft's helm is Nokia CEO Stephen Elop. His ease of understanding the Windows Phone line of products would be an asset for Microsoft. It seems like the Nokia Lumia phones carrying the Windows Phone platform have just not taken in comparison to Android and iOS platforms.
Redmond software giant's Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner is next in queue.
Ex-Windows Chief Steve Sinokfsy, now board partner at Andreessen Horowitz).
Netflix CEO (and former Microsoft board member) Reed Hastings. His experience as board member will make it easy for him to weed out what's working and what's not.
Google's Vic Gundotra is another candidate for interview at Redmond Street.
Scott Forstall, a Steve Jobs apprentice, is a great choice for Microsoft CEO. The Jobs edge and inspiration is exactly what Microsoft employees need to stretch their boundaries. It seems like the people at Microsoft have been just sitting around bored for a while.
What about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg? Not an unlikely choice, indeed. Analysts say that Sheryl is good at building her profile into the role of a CEO and she would take over Redmond and be comfortable doing it.
Marissa Mayer and Yahoo have proved the strength of favouring 'spontaneity.' Sometimes a change in a new direction is exactly what is required.
Last but least is Tim Cook, 15-year veteran at Apple Inc. There's very little chance that Tim would leave Apple Inc, a fab firm, for Microsoft. He would have to work twice as hard. Besides Steve wouldn't have approved of it.
Ladbrokes.com has compiled an extensive list of possible CEOs to replace Mr. Ballmer at Microsoft, who will retire in about a year.
Stephen Elop 5/1
Kevin Turner 6/1
Steve Sinofsky 8/1
Julie Larson-Green 8/1
Qi Lu 10/1
Kiril Tatarinov 12/1
Terry Myerson 12/1
Satya Nadella 14/1
Tony Bates 14/1
Paul Maritz 14/1
Kevin Johnson 16/1
Reed Hastings 16/1
John Donahoe 20/1
Dale Lee 20/1
Vic Gundotra 25/1
Jeff Raikes 25/1
Robbie Bach 25/1
Scott Forstall 33/1
Marissa Meyer 33/1
Sheryl Sandberg 40/1
John Legere 40/1
Sir Jonathan Ive 40/1
Jack Dorsey 40/1
Bill Gates 50/1
Tim Cook 100/1