Microsoft Investors Want To Ctrl+Alt+Del Bill Gates

Three major investors in Microsoft have made it clear that they are not happy with how the company is doing, and what needs to be done to set things right: get Bill Gates off the board of directors.

Reuters is reporting today that three of Microsoft's top 20 investors are privately calling for Gates' resignation, which would be the first time the Microsoft founder has been implicated in the company's perceived lackluster performance. Outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer has already been viewed as part of the problem at the software company, but this appears to be the first time major investors have called on Gates himself to vacate the premises. 

The three investors, which the Reuters story did not name, hold more than 5% of Microsoft's stock. It is not clear yet if the board will be sympathetic to their call.

The Argument For Gates To Let Go

Technology analyst Jack Gold thinks that a dramatic change—and ousting the company's founder after 38 years certainly qualifies as dramatic—may be just the thing Microsoft needs. 

"They certainly have a point in that view, given MSFT's performance. And since Gates is chairman of the board, and the board has oversight, they blame the board as much as management (Ballmer)," Gold wrote in a message to ReadWrite.

"But I think the bigger issue is, now that Ballmer is being replaced, who will lead? My opinion (and perhaps those that want Gates out) is that as long as Gates and Ballmer have essentially veto power over the [new CEO] selection process (since between them they control a large portion of the shares and have control over the board), that not much will change and the replacement will be cut from the same cloth, so to speak," Gold added. "If you eliminate the existing chair and limit the influence of Ballmer on the selection process, you're more likely to get someone that can take MSFT in a needed new direction. And that would be the best outcome, in my opinion."

Image courtesy of Reuters/Brendan McDermid