Kempin charges Ballmer with purposefully ousting any executives with potential to wrest him from the CEO seat, which he has occupied since 2000.
He said he saw the process first with Richard Belluzzo, a former Hewlett-Packard executive credited with launching the Xbox game console who rose to chief operating officer at Microsoft but left after only 14 months in the post, in the same year Kempin left.
"He (Belluzzo) had no room to breathe on the top. When you work that directly with Ballmer and Ballmer believes 'maybe this guy could someday take over from me', my God, you will have less air to breathe, that's what it comes down to."
"Steve is a very good business guy, but make him a chief operating officer, not a CEO, and your business is going to go gangbusters," said Kempin. "I respect that guy (Ballmer), but there are some limitations in what he can and can't do and maybe he hasn't realized them himself."
Another famous CEO observed that A players hire other A players, while B players hire C and D players.
Ballmer certainly doesn't act like an A player.