What do you do when a product doesn’t magically take off and start selling like hotcakes? Apparently you blame Steve Ballmer. While not everything Steve Ballmer has done has been perfect, I personally think he has done a great job leading Microsoft, bringing in an era of more stable Windows (Win 7 and 8), improving the Windows Mobile scene and of course expanding Xbox.
Sure, he’s had some failures too, but that’s part of the game of life. Nonetheless, he continues to often be a target for criticism, whether it is financial consultants like Adam Hartung speaking up against him or even when CNBC called him one of the worst CEOs of 2012.
Now apparently a former employee Joachim Kempin has wrote a book called Resolver and Fortitude: Microsoft’s “secret power broker” breaks his silence, where he talks about how Microsoft has foreseen every major move in the tech world many, many years earlier but ended up dropping the ball when it came to social media, phones, tablets and more.
Further, Kempin talks about how the decline of the PC is partly due to Microsoft mishandling and managing its hardware partners.
For those wondering who Kempin is, Joachim Kempin has worked in a position where he oversaw Windows software sales to computer vendors and left due around the time that many of his aggressive contracts crafted with PC makers were being investigated as part of the US government’s anti-trust prosecution against Microsoft.
So what’s the problem with Microsoft in Kempin’s opinion?
Management is a big part of it, apparently. He feels that the management needs big changes if Microsoft is to succeed going forward.
In regards to Steve Ballmer, Joachim Kempin had quite a few things to say. First, he alleges that Steve Ballmer tends to choke out those that could potentially succeed him as the CEO.
He says this is what happened with Richard Belluzzo, a former HP executive who had joined Microsoft’s ranks and helped with the Xbox launch effort. Belluzzo quickly rose to chief operating officer but left Microsoft after 14 months.
Kempin claims it was because when you work that directly with Ballmer you have very little room to breathe. Many executives in top positions have left abruptly like this, included Sinofsky, according to Rueters.
Kempin sums things up stating:
“Is he a great CEO? I don’t think so. Microsoft’s board is a lame duck board, has been forever. They hire people to help them administer the company, but not to lead the company. That’s the problem,” said Kempin.
Additionally, he feels that Balmer should step down into a senior position at Microsoft and let someone else in the driver’s seat:
“They need somebody maybe 35-40 years old, a younger person who understands the FacebookInc generation and this mobile community. They don’t need this guy on stage with this fierce, aggressive look, announcing the next version of Windows and thinking he can score with that.”
Are Joachim Kempin’s Points Relevant?
While I’ve obviously not read his book (since it isn’t out just yet), the arguments and opinions he states through his interview with Reuters makes his position pretty clear. He feels Microsoft isn’t heading in the right direction with Ballmer and it needs to change.
That said, we need to understand something: Kempin left Microsoft in 2002. It’s now 2013. That’s over a decade and I’ve seen Microsoft and even Steve Ballmer change quite a bit over the last decade. What might have been true about Microsoft when Kempin worked at Microsoft might not be true today.
Additionally, this is one man’s opinion. Many former MS employees have had much more positive opinions of figures such as Ballmer. As far as the allegations that he drove out competition for his position as CEO? If I were a CEO of one of the most powerful and important companies on the globe, I’d probably be in the face and constantly monitoring and pushing those I felt might someday be a future leader of the company as well– so I really can’t blame Steve for that.
Anyhow, for more information about all that was said about Ballmer, Microsoft and the upcoming book, head on over to Reuters.