updated 09:55 pm EDT, Thu May 26, 2011
Board said to support executive arrangement
Microsoft's board of directors reportedly supports executive Steve Ballmer, despite calls from hedge fund manager David Einhorn for the company to find a new leader. All board members are said to have confidence in Ballmer, unnamed sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, though the company has so far declined to make any public statements regarding the matter.
Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates is viewed as Ballmer's most important supporter, potentially the only board member with the power to shake up the management. An unnamed hedge fund manager suggests Gates is a "ruthless capitalist" who would "walk Ballmer to the door himself" if it was deemed necessary.
Speaking at the Ira Sohn Investment Research Converence, Einhorn claimed that Ballmer was the "biggest overhang" holding back the company's performance and stock valuation. The comments echo other critics who have blamed the CEO for lackluster performance in Microsoft's online division, which has lost $7 billion over the course of four years in an attempt to compete with Google.
Other analysts have voiced similar concerns with Microsoft's stock performance in recent years, though some place the blame on a general reaction of the computer market to competition from new devices such as tablets.