Former exec hits out at Microsoft’s ‘lame duck board’ and its CEO Steve Ballmer

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Former Microsoft sales executive Joachim Kempin has told Reuters that Microsoft needs “a big change in management”, and has also accused CEO Steve Ballmer of retaining control of his empire by forcing out anyone who challenges his authority.

Kempin worked for the software giant between 1983 and 2002, and spoke to Reuters ahead of the publication of his book ‘Resolve and Fortitude: Microsoft’s “secret power broker” breaks his silence’.

“For Microsoft to really get back in the game seriously, you need a big change in management,” he said. “As much as I respect Steve Ballmer, he may be part of that in the end.”

“Steve is a very good business guy, but make him a chief operating officer, not a CEO, and your business is going to go gangbusters,” he continued. “I respect that guy [Ballmer], but there are some limitations in what he can and can’t do and maybe he hasn’t realized them himself.”

He also suggests that Ballmer forces potential rivals for his position out of the business. Kempin says he saw it happen to Richard Belluzzo, a former Hewlett-Packard executive who rose through the ranks at Microsoft quickly to become chief operating officer, but then left the role after just 14 months.

“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.”

Continuing on the subject of Ballmer, Kempien added: “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.”

“They need somebody maybe 35-40 years old, a younger person who understands the Facebook 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.”