While it is hard to overestimate the role of Bill Gates in the formation and success of Microsoft Corp., at least some investors want to oust a co-founder of the company. The shareholders blame Mr. Gates for poor financial results of Microsoft as well as it failures on the market of ultra-mobile computing devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
A group of three investors who control over 5% stake in Microsoft has addressed the boards of directors and expressed concern that Mr. Gates' role as chairman blocks the implementation of new approaches and would limit the power of a new chief executive to make extensive changes, reports Reuters news-agency. In particular, they note Gates' role on the special committee searching for Steve Ballmer's successor.
In addition, the group points to the fact that Bill Gates, who currently controls about 4.5% stake of Microsoft, has much higher power than his share would give him. Moreover, as Mr. Gates continues to sell around 80 thousand shares per year under a pre-set plan, he will not own a stake in Microsoft by 2018.
While the early success of Microsoft is a direct result of Bill Gates work at the software giant, its recent failures should also be attributed to the co-founder of the company, who recommended Steve Ballmer onto the CEO role back in 2000. Microsoft’s poor ultra-mobile strategy could also be attributed to Mr. Gates. At the same time, Microsoft still needs a visionary, which Mr. Gates undoubtedly is.
"This is long overdue. Replacing the old guard with some fresh eyes can provide the oxygen needed to properly evaluate their corporate strategy," said Todd Lowenstein, a portfolio manager at HighMark Capital Management, which owns Microsoft shares.
Microsoft did not comment.
“I have thought that the company has been missing a technology visionary. Bill Gates would fit the bill,” Kim Caughey Forrest, senior analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group.