Microsoft CEO slammed for ruthless tactics
By Bill Rigby, ReutersSEATTLE -- Microsoft Corp. chief executive Steve Ballmer is not the right leader for the world's largest software company but holds his grip on it by systematically forcing out any rising manager who challenges his authority, claims a former senior executive who has written a book about his time at the company.
January 23, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
“For Microsoft to really get back in the game seriously, you need a big change in management,” said Joachim Kempin, who worked at Microsoft between 1983 and 2002, overseeing the sales of Windows software to computer makers for part of that time. “As much as I respect Steve Ballmer, he may be part of that in the end.”
As a senior vice president in charge of a crucial part of the company's business with direct access to co-founder Bill Gates, Kempin is the most senior former Microsoft executive to write a book critical of the company, which is famous for the loyalty of its ex-employees.
His criticism echoes that of investor David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital, who called for Ballmer to step down in 2011.
Kempin left Microsoft under a cloud in 2002 as some of the aggressive contracts he crafted with PC makers were seen as fodder for the U.S. government's antitrust prosecution of the company, which started in 1998 and was largely resolved by 2002.
His book, “Resolve and Fortitude: Microsoft's 'secret power broker' breaks his silence,” is scheduled to be published on Tuesday. He talked with Reuters by phone on Monday.
Defend the Throne
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.”