Steve Ballmer, the C.E.O. of Microsoft, finally figured out a way to make some money for himself: he quit. This morning, Ballmer announced that he will retire within the next twelve months. The company’s stock surged; Ballmer is now worth about a billion dollars more than he was on Thursday.
This is the paragraph that got my attention:
What has gone wrong? For starters, Ballmer proved to be the anti-Steve Jobs. He missed every major trend in technology. His innovations alienated people. When he tried something new, like Windows Vista, the public lined up around the block to trade it in. Microsoft missed social networking. It completely misjudged the iPhone and the iPad. It embraced complexity in product design just as everyone was turning toward simplicity. It entered growing markets too late. When was the last time you used Bing? In 2000, Microsoft made most of its money selling Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows. Today, it still makes its money that way.
He was a business guy, a salesman running a tech company. That hardly ever succeeds.
Now where does MS go? It has lost so many of the people inside the company who could do much of anything. Anyone from outside has a huge, impractical corporate culture to deal with.
And, as the article discusses, it suffers from the innovator’s dilemma – it cannot let go of where its current profits originate, Windows and Office. It focussed on making software for desktops in a time when desktops were disappearing. It failed to come up with a useful plan to deal with mobile.
I wonder what will happen next.