If you think Microsoft is a chaotic mess, don't expect much to change. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the software giant is having a hard time finding a new CEO because of candidates' concern about having to deal with outgoing chief Steve Ballmer and founder Bill Gates.
To be more specific, the Wall Street Journal reports, chief executive officer candidates are worried about a totality of chaotic boardroom dynamics.
Gates, the chairman, and the largest shareholder still have tremendous influence over products and development.
Ballmer (pictured, above, centre), although he is retiring, will still remain on the board of directors. And soon Microsoft will get an activist investor on the board, ValueAct, which will push for faster change to meet the challenges of competitors like Google and Apple.
Ballmer surprised many in August 2013 when he announced his retirement and that he would leave the company within 12 months. Over the last five years, analysts and investors have openly expressed that they believe it is time for Ballmer to go, but he and his chief ally, Gates, resisted.
In his announcement, though, he said it was the right time to leave.
"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a 'devices and services' company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most.
"We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction," Ballmer claimed in a letter to employees.
Ballmer's retirement came just weeks after he initiated a reorganisation called Microsoft One, a move backed by the board, meant to better align the various operating divisions and focus them on a single direction.
To the surprise of many, Ballmer initiated the takeover of Nokia just weeks after making the announcement.
Microsoft's board, according to reports, wanted a new CEO in place by November. But, one after another, leading candidates have dropped out.
The Wall Street Journal said the leading reason is Ballmer's changes and continued influence. The new CEO will either have to maintain the status quo put in place by Ballmer or contend with a board member who does not want to see his legacy altered.
Regarding Gates, concerns have been more about the products and technical direction. Gates remains Microsoft's 'spiritual' leader; few challenge his influence or advice.
Yet the company is contending with a new generation of competitors. Candidates worry Gates' legacy and influence could hamper efforts to change the company's technology to better compete with new rivals.
It could get even more complicated for the next Microsoft chief. Other reports have indicated that Ballmer could overtake Gates as the company's largest shareholder in 2014.
Gates (pictured, right), who retired from Microsoft in 2008, spends most of his time working for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Once again the world's richest man, he has been shedding Microsoft shares to pay for his charity activities.
Ballmer as the single largest shareholder would have tremendous influence over management decisions.
Microsoft is striving to recover from recent missteps in recent years - but the Surface tablet is finally selling well, Windows 8 has developed a foundation, and business products are thriving.
However, it remains seriously challenged by rivals, most notably Google. Tech providers say that Microsoft remains an important company but is less and less channel-friendly.
As a result, OEM partners and resellers are diversifying their supplier relationships. Look no further than the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, where Lenovo and HP are unveiling PCs based on Google's Android OS.
Google is also beginning to take market share away from Microsoft and Apple with its Chromebook PCs, based on its Chrome OS.
As part of our special editorial partnership, CRN is republishing this article from Channelnomics
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