Even though the Microsoft board may think that Steve Ballmer is underpaid for all the hard work he does. the majority of pundits think that Microsoft is in real need of a new CEO; well, with the exception of Peter Yared at VentureBeat, it would seem.
In a post today, Yared quite rightly points out that anyone who gets dreamy-eyed at the thought that Bill Gates might return and save the company obviously doesn’t know much about Microsoft or its history. The fact is, according to Yared, the company has done very well under the stewardship of Ballmer.
During Ballmer’s 10-year tenure, Microsoft has tripled revenue and doubled net income. Legacy products such as Office, Exchange and SharePoint have been transitioned to the cloud. Windows 7 is a huge hit with over400 million licenses sold, and early looks at the upcoming Windows 8 are resulting in rave reviews. Windows Phone 7 is a very late entrant into the modern smartphone category, but it is already being declared the number three player, with its innovative user interface and upcoming distribution via Nokia. Some analysts even predict that it will outpace Android within a few years.
Even more importantly, Ballmer has shepherded Microsoft as a big player in two new and growing markets: console gaming and search. The Xbox now has 20% market share in the console market, with 45% year-over-year growth, and has led the way to motion-based gaming with its hit Kinect product
For the most part Peter is right. Ballmer has done some really good things for the company – except in one increasingly important area – winning the hearts and minds of the consumer.
Ballmer has the corporate world down pat, and he understands that world probably like no-one else at Microsoft; but he doesn’t get the consumer world in my opinion. That is a problem for the company going forward, especially as they bet more of the company on the whole three screens philosophy and usher in a new “Metrofied” world of Windows.
Here’s the problem though; which Yared points out as well: As much as we all might want Ballmer to finally head into the sunset, who out there is capable; both on a corporate and consumer level to lead the company?
Until that question can be answered I’m pretty sure that Ballmer can consider his CEO job to be pretty secure.
[Cross-posted at Winextra]