The DOW of Steve


Microsoft’s share price is up nicely in the months since CEO Steve Ballmer announced he was leaving, but that’s not going to last unless the company can actually find a replacement. Someday. Eventually. WSJ describes the problem:


John W. Thompson, the director leading the CEO search, says the board is methodically seeking the right person for a complex role. But corporate directors, management consultants and some executives contacted about the job say the potential for boardroom clashes at Microsoft is a turnoff.

If Chairman Bill Gates and Mr. Ballmer stay on the board, Microsoft would be an outlier. Just eight companies in the S&P 500 index have two of their former CEOs as directors, according to Equilar Inc., which tracks executive compensation.

“No CEO worthy of the title wants his or her predecessors second-guessing everything in the boardroom,” said Jean-Louis Gassée, a former Apple Inc. AAPL -2.20% executive who has served on public-company boards.

Microsoft hasn’t said whether both Mr. Ballmer and Mr. Gates, the company’s co-founder and CEO for 19 years, will remain directors.

Seems like the problem isn’t so much finding a qualified candidate, but rather finding a candidate willing to work with Gates and Ballmer second-guessing their every move.

That’s an intolerable level of dysfunction for a company as large as Microsoft.

Gates and Ballmer have got to quit the board and let their baby grow up.


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