Microsoft’s game of thrones: How Ballmer and Gates finally lost favor

“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,” Bass, Jinks and Burrows report. “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. (AAPL:US) and Google Inc. (GOOG:US) 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.”

Bass, Jinks and Burrows report, “Microsoft spokeswoman Dawn Beauparlant said Ballmer declined to comment. He remains on the board, along with Gates, who stepped down as chairman to be Nadella’s technology adviser. John Thompson replaced Gates as chairman. Thompson, Gates and Nadella also declined be interviewed, she said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

Microsoft's iPhone Funeral September 2010
September 2010

[Attribution: The Verge. Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up. Thanks to 3l3c7ro for the Take idea.]

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The day Ballmer went too far: Screaming ultimatum to BoD last July, either buy Nokia or I’m gone! – March 5, 2014
Microsoft CEO Nadella begins rearranging the deck chairs – March 3, 2014


    1. And both pretty much mean they’ll either be under – water or the ground. Microsoft just can’t execute well traditionally. As Gates admitted once he wished he had Steve Jobs taste. Taste and true vision. You can dream up a lot of things (and in that respect Gates is no better than any other tech head, pretty average imagination in fact) but how you build them and execute them to consumers satisfaction takes true innovation and creative thinking. Microsoft had tablets and a phone OS before Apple, just nobody wanted them much. They never bothered to push the envelope until forced too. They were always just a “sit on your laurels and rake in the Windows/Office cash” kinda company. Und now, they pay zee price for their lack of vision!

            1. Palpatine or at least Ian McDiarmid was on tele yesterday in a series called ’37 Days’ showing the disastrous, mindless and egotistical lack of reason that fuelled the build up to the 1st WW after the assignation of Arch Duke Ferdinand. You certainly felt that Gates and Ballmer should have had prime roles in there somewhere.

            2. assignation of arch duke ferdinand?

              you mean his wife sophie might have arranged his assassination because he was noodling around on her?

              hell hath no fury…. as they say.

              still and all i can enjoy mis-spellings when they reveal either a freudian slip or a sly sense of humor.

              brings to mind a clipping i have from a small town newspaper back in the late 1970’s or so that proclaimed that the u.s. postal service was issuing a new stamp “honoring the member of robert f. kennedy”

      1. All Gates was ever interested in was building a monopoly to make money. He never cared about the vehicles to earn that income. Jobs never cared about the money, it was merely a tool to create what he believed were insanely great products, and the money followed from delighted customers. Gates’ approach made him richer, so he achieved his goal, and Jobs’ approach allowed him to make increasingly popular products, so he achieved his goal.

        The only question now is how these two technology giants go on without their founders. Jobs may be gone, but Gates just might as well be. He used up his initiative when he bought, then licensed MS-DOS to all comers, and secured his monopoly when he outsmarted Apple’s leaders when he stole the Mac’s user interface. At least Apple paid PARC for their technology, then took it to the next level.

        1. Yup and of course the know it all analysts took it in turns to encourage him and the company generally to continue doing what had been so profitable before. Neither have the wit to see the future and how it would affect the company. Of course analysts can just go on to another company to destroy those inside have a somewhat greater responsibility.

    2. I recall something of a funeral arranged for the iPhone by Microsoft staff. They should be experienced now that they have to arrange one for not only Steve Ballmer but also for either several divisions or the entire company.

  1. Bill Gates is making the big decisions in the company regardless of the title you give him: ‘Chairman’ (as he was under Ballmer), now ‘technology advisor’ etc.

    He might not do the day to day running of the company (e.g “how many janitors should we hire”) but I bet you he was front and centre of every MAJOR Msft decision like deciding that Win 8 would run on desktops as well as mobile (instead of WinMobile ,Win Phone OS, Win Ce, Kin OS , Zune OS, etc. Gates believes Win Desktop is msft’s miracle cash cow and he wants it defended at all costs).

    Everybody blames Ballmer for Win 8 but incredulously give Gates a free pass. Seriously do they think Ballmer didn’t ask Gates opinion on Win 8 on Mobile ? And if Gates as Chairman said “No, no bad idea” , Ballmer went ahead regardless “No screw that Bill I’m CEO , I’m going ahead”?.
    No way dudes, every major disaster in Msft over Ballmer’s tenure has Gates fingerprints all over it.

    I doubt too that Nadella if there was a serious disagreement would dare to over ride Gates wishes. Gates might not be the ‘techno visionary’ that people make him out to be but he’s one tough assed business predator.

    1. And the danger for Bill Gates is that he has trouble exceeding his last success which he must still nurture without thinking he is destroying it as I imagine he sees it.

      Meanwhile, Steve Jobs was content to “destroy” the iPod with the iPhone and then “destroy” the Mac Book line by coming out with the iPad.

      In one sense though, Steve Jobs understood that in the long run, our communication equipment had to last longer than a couple years, because consumers expect more, so he infused the idea that hardware should last for many years and that is essentially true today, in spite of that reducing the amount of a single piece of hardware sold to an individual.

      Such are the differences needed to create progress.

    2. I’m sorry, but I still see him as the pimply faced “billionaire Billy boy genius.

      He is the embodiment of all that is wrong with capitalism. He and mike Milken, running around the world giving away their money in an attempt to absolve themselves from prior sin called greed. A real ethics fail these two are.

  2. Seriously? The press goes on and on about America’s obesity epidemic but ignores it when it occurs in the executive ranks of their most influential company? Is this any less damning than suicides or child labour at Asian plants? Where are the glib investigative reporters now? Another nail in the coffin of Journalism’s lamented objectivity.

  3. I hope Nadella can make some positive changes and get things moving in a more positive direction. And that’s not because I like Microsoft, but I do like competition. I think it will make Google and Microsoft build better products if they have more competition.

    1. Competition is another name for war, which is useless.
      Innovation comes from conscious individuals and their ego-less thinking, not from wasting time and energy fighting the competition.

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