The top story at WSJ.com today is that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, heads of Microsoft (MSFT), had a series of fights over control of the company. That was eight years ago. It may be a nice human interest story. But, Ballmer is CEO and Gates is “retiring” to give his money away to worthy causes.
The financial paper writes that “Things became so bitter that, on one occasion, Mr. Gates stormed out of a meeting in a huff after a shouting match in which Mr. Ballmer jumped to the defense of several colleagues.” That must have been an Aha! moment. The two men have know each other since 1973 when they were both at Harvard. It is hard to imagine that, over the decades, they agreed on everything.
The story goes on to say that the duo struggled over who would run the world’s largest software company and that the argument went on for almost a year.
Over the period since the big blow-ups, shares of MSFT have gone from $53 to $27. There was a special dividend in there, so that comparison is not entirely fair. Nonetheless, the stock has not done terribly well. But, Gates and Ballmer are still friends.
Douglas A. McIntyre