The day Ballmer went too far: Screaming ultimatum to BoD last July, either buy Nokia or I’m gone!

“As Satya Nadella puts his stamp on Microsoft Corp., he’s coming to grips with the tug of war over strategy and the clash of personalities that marked Steve Ballmer’s final years at the helm,” Dina Bass, Beth Jinks and Peter Burrows report for Bloomberg. “Nadella, who succeeded Ballmer one month ago, took a step this week by unraveling part of a restructuring his predecessor put in place in one of his last acts as chief executive officer. Nadella appointed onetime Democratic political operative Mark Penn to the just-invented post of strategy chief and shuffled other executives to resolve an unwieldy setup Ballmer had established in the marketing department.”

“The new CEO is seeking to reshape a company whose main businesses are losing steam as efforts to expand on the Web and in mobile devices have been thwarted by Apple Inc. and Google Inc.,” Bass, Jinks and Burrows report. “Nadella will also exert his influence on the push into hardware, a strategy shift that fueled some of Ballmer’s fiercest arguments with the board. Before the announcement in August that he would be retiring, some directors were so exasperated they talked about how they might ease him out, including by hiring someone he admired, Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally, to succeed him, according to people with knowledge of the matter; Mulally later fell out of favor when members viewed him as behaving as though the job should be handed to him without so much as a formal interview, according to the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the situation. A spokeswoman for Mulally declined to comment.”

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
“Ballmer’s relations with the board hit a low when he shouted at a June meeting that if he didn’t get his way he couldn’t be CEO, people briefed on the meeting said. The flare-up was over his proposed purchase of most of Nokia Oyj,” Bass, Jinks and Burrows report. “Several directors and co-founder and then-Chairman Bill Gates — Ballmer’s longtime friend and advocate — initially balked at the move into making smartphones, according to people familiar with the situation. So, at first, did Nadella, signaling his position in a straw poll to gauge executives’ reaction to the deal. Nadella later changed his mind.”

“Ballmer was so loud that day in June his shouts could be heard outside the conference room. people with knowledge of the matter said,” Bass, Jinks and Burrows report. “He’d just been told the board didn’t back his plan to acquire two Nokia units, according to people with knowledge of the meeting. He later got most of what he wanted, with the board signing off on a $7.2 billion purchase of Nokia’s mobile-phone business, but by then the damage was done.”

Tons more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Nadella’s initial reaction was right.

That Mr. Wishy Washy failed to stick to his guns shows a lack of decisiveness, or obsequiousness, that does not bode well for the future of the foundering hulk that is the S.S. Microsoft.


    1. I’m amazed the simian like, Uncle Fester looking, sweaty, ugly fat man with no social skills lasted as long as he did. As an Apple fan, I hate to see him go. Just about anyone else can do a better job that that oblivious buffoon. I liked his strategy, I really liked it a lot. It won’t be as much fun not having that fool to kick around any more. He should of been fired 10 years ago. Like they say, the luckiest dorm room assignment ever.

      1. I have an image in mind of Ballmer in ill-fitting superhero tights & cape, striking a pose, saying, “My work here is done…” while turning away and exiting stage left.

        And I think it would be right: the critical damage has been done. What is there left to do?

  1. Meanwhile over at Cupertino where the boardroom is as quiet as a church mouse, Apple keeps churning out crapware disguised as software. If only Cook had half the balls of Ballmer and stood up for quality software, and screamed his head off at the iOS 7 development team, Apple would not have had to compromise on standards of taste and quality laid down by Steve Jobs.

    1. @ “Trevor”

      I’m doing a survey of trolls. Wondering if you’d like to participate. If so, please answer these few easy questions:

      1. How old are you?
      2. What is your educational level?
      3. Why are you here?

      1. 4. Are you concerned about the mold from living in your mommy’s basement?

        5. Tater tots or fries?

        6. How big is you comic book collection?

        7. When’s the last time you talked to a real girl? (Facebooking your cousin doesn’t count).

        8. Can you go to bed without your mommy tucking you in?

    2. I’ve wondered if iOS 7 would have been the original iOS an iOS 6 was the new now would this same reaction exist?

      Occasionally I’ll use my old 3GS and can’t believe how dated it looks. I much prefer iOS 7 but understand every is entitled to their opinion on the design and ease of use. The good news is smartphone competition has never been stronger so you can try something else. My eggs have been in the Apple basket since 1980 and that’s where they are staying.

      Continue to come here if that makes you feel big but know you will find little sympathy.

      1. In movies or TV where they want to have a modern, cutting-edge image, how to they portray electronics? Clean. Minimalist. (unless distopian, of course). On the bridge of the Enterprise, you’re not going to see faux leather or green felt. And, of course, if you want to look Victorian, what materials and look do you use?

        1. Well – survey of one…

          I remember well my reactions to the faux leather, green felt and related points when they were new. It was, “BLECH! You gotta be kidding me!” So I’m just talking about those kinds of colors and effects.

          If we could choose one as a package, I go for 7. If I were big boss of design, I’d probably have elements of both.

  2. This from the same wishy washy MDN crew who for months dismissed the idea of a larger screen iphone because Steve jobs said the size was right. Now they say it took too long to get on board with larger screens.

  3. Microsoft obviously has a steep mountain to climb to get back on track, but I don’t think it’s fair to call him wishy washy. Steve Jobs was famous for how often and quickly he could change his mind. He would argue against something vehemently, then someone would say something that changed his thought process.

    A sign of a good leader is doing what’s right – not proving you were right. Whether Nadella did what’s right remains to be seen. But at least he can be swayed, if he deems it as making sense.

    1. The difference between the two was, Jobs learned from his mistakes. The Jobs that got fired in 1986, and the Jobs who came back in 1997 were like two completely different people. Jobs didn’t have the best social skills either, but some how he could get away with it, and people still admired him because he was so damn smart. I can’t recall one single inspirational thing Ballmer ever said. Ballmer was a master at making a total ass if himself. Jobs was arrogant, but not an ass. Nobody motivated people like Steve Jobs. Ballmer on the other hand, just pissed people off.

      1. “I can’t recall one single inspirational thing Ballmer ever said.”

        uh, what about:
        “developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! developers! “?

        okay, then.

        1. That wasn’t inspiring, it was scary! Especially when you watched the video.

          Don’t you wonder what Ballmer thinks when he sees that video?

        2. Don’t look so sad, I know it’s over,
          But life goes on and this old world will keep on turning.
          Let’s just be glad, we had some time to spend together
          There’s no need to watch the bridges that we’re burning
          ….for the good times:

          …for the good times. Thanks, Ballmer T.

  4. I remember wanting to learn what surface was all about when it was first being announced, and watched a presentation opened by Balmer. It was hilarious! He said things like “Microsoft has been really innovative the last few years” and “we helped to usher in the mobile era”. At first I was waiting for a punch line, and then was disappointed and laughed hysterically when I realized they thought those claims to be true.

  5. Ballmer is correct about one thing: Microsoft has to build its own smartphones. Not because of any reason Ballmer had, but because no third party handset maker is going to pay Microsoft for Windows Phone software. Nokia only did because Microsoft paid it to do so.

    That doesn’t mean buying Nokia was a good move. Microsoft should have bought Blackberry instead if it wanted a handset maker, or LG, or someone else. Nokia doesn’t have good experience in smartphones.

    The bottom line is Microsoft is so far behind in the smartphone industry that it has to build its own devices or it would have to give its software away, which is not Microsoft’s business model at all.

    1. If Microsoft wanted to stay in the mobile business, they had no choice but to buy Nokia. It was the way Ballmer went about it that dug his own grave.

      Whether or not Microsoft should have stayed in the mobile business? That’s another question.

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