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Microsoft Shareholder Wants Steve Ballmer Out

While speaking at the annual Ira Sohn Investment Research Conference in New York on Wednesday, Greenlight Capital president David Einhorn said it was time for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to step down and give someone else a shot at leading Microsoft into a fruitful future.

Calling Ballmer's continued presence "the biggest overhang on Microsoft's stock," Einhorn compared Ballmer to Charlie Brown, Charles Schulz's nearly-bald cartoon protagonist in the Peanuts comic strip. Brown suffers from a "permanent case of bad luck," typically losing at everything he does whether it's baseball, football or landing a kiss from the red-headed girl.

“Ballmer’s problem is that he’s stuck in the past,” Einhorn said. “He’s allowed competitors to beat Microsoft in huge areas, including search, mobile-communications software, tablet computing and social networking. Even worse, his response to these failures has been to pour tremendous resources into efforts to develop his way out of these holes.”

Einhorn's call for change is backed by a virtual standstill in Microsoft's market value over the past ten years as the Redmond company failed to attack new mobile computing and internet markets. As of Tuesday, Microsoft was overtaken by IBM in market value for the first time in 15 years. Apple also shot past Microsoft last year, taking the crown as the world's most valuable tech company.

Greenlight Capital, a New york-based investment management firm (hedge fund) which has $7.8 billion in assets as of January 1, has been a recent buyer of Microsoft's stock, and currently holds about nine million shares, or 0.11-percent of the company's outstanding shares. But according to Reuters, the firm may actually lose money on Microsoft if the company continues to flatline in value, reporting that an investor who dumped $100,000 into Microsoft ten years ago would now have about $69,000.

Ballmer is already aware of Microsoft's position on the mobile sector and how its shortcomings have hurt the company's image and market value. Just last year he took a hit in the wallet after the board docked some of his potential bonus for falling short. He even apologized for Microsoft's late start on Monday while speaking at the Japanese Developers Forum.

Microsoft's CEO is the company's second biggest shareholder at nearly 4-percent, or more than 333 million shares. Co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates has a 6.7-percent stake, or more than 561 million shares. Ballmer succeeded Gates as CEO back in 2000, about the time when Microsoft stock began to flatline in value.

  • matt_b
    He's not the only person thinking this........
    Reply
  • legacy7955
    YES! Ballmer is a charlatan and buffoon collecting outrageous sums for contributing NOTHING of value .
    Bring back a REAL GEEK, like Paul Allen or Bill Gates!

    These guys are real innovators.
    Reply
  • scuba dave
    matt_bHe's not the only person thinking this........
    Agreed.. Based on his performance as CEO.. It's no wonder Apple is gaining in popularity.. He, and the direction he has been taking/trying to take Microsoft has missed the mark time after time..consistantly. Yeah, I'm kinda tired of my MS stock doing nothing. Bring in a new bull. One that can make Microsoft what it once was, and more.
    Reply
  • illo
    yeah i agree pretty much 100% microsoft was the big guy of the 90's since then its kinda been late to the game on everything they produce, with the exception of the kinect.
    Reply
  • hoofhearted
    His biggest failure: WP7
    Reply
  • Judguh
    sykozisWindows costs $100 for "Windows 7 Home Premium" and $140 for "Windows 7 Professional"....This price includes Microsoft Security Essentials, Windows XP Mode (for Windows 7 Pro and higher), and all updates/service packs that Microsoft releases. Last check, Apple's OSX was also $100-$150....but requires that cost per revision, unlike Windows.
    Reply
  • Judguh
    sykozisWindows costs $100 for "Windows 7 Home Premium" and $140 for "Windows 7 Professional"....This price includes Microsoft Security Essentials, Windows XP Mode (for Windows 7 Pro and higher), and all updates/service packs that Microsoft releases. Last check, Apple's OSX was also $100-$150....but requires that cost per revision, unlike Windows.This Comic sums up that...
    Reply
  • robochump
    Ballmer is fat and happy and over-paid. He should have stepped down 5 years ago and MS is currently in a business as usual state and no longer innovative but playing follow the leader.
    Reply
  • ProDigit10
    kick the monkey out, and get all your money back :D
    Reply
  • FloKid
    He was just a little to late on the band wagon, just like the rest of us lol.
    Reply