Hedge fund manager David Einhorn created a stir last week when he suggested that it was time for Steve Ballmer to step down. But that’s not the only sign of slipping confidence in the Microsoft CEO. The energetic Microsoft boss continues to lose support among the rank-and-file. At least that’s the finding from Glassdoor.com, which shows a slumping approval rating for Ballmer among employees over the past three years.
As the above chart suggests, it is not a pretty picture for the longtime CEO. Ballmer’s approval rating has dropped below 30 percent on a quarter-by-quarter basis, the first time that has occurred since Glassdoor started tracking CEO ratings in 2008. That compares to a 65 percent approval rating for Ballmer during the second quarter of 2008. (The quarterly analysis is based on at least 50 reviews per quarter).
On a cumulative basis, Glassdoor’s analysis of more than 1,500 employee reviews shows that Ballmer’s approval stands at 47 percent. That’s far better than the quarterly analysis shown above, but pretty awful when compared to some other high-tech leaders.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs — who consistently ranks as one of the highest ranked tech executives — currently boasts a 97 percent approval rating. Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos comes in at 84 percent followed by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison at 78 percent and Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz at 58 percent.
But it is not all bad news for Ballmer. In a column titled “Some faint praise for Mr. Ballmer,” Reuters Breakingviews points out that other longtime CEOs (including John Chambers at Cisco; Jeffery Immelt at GE; Rupert Murdoch at News Corp.; and others) have not driven as much value as the Microsoft boss.
“(Ballmer’s) problem isn’t so much shrinking profits as a loss of investor faith in Microsoft, whose price-to-earnings ratio is one of the lowest among big companies in the United States,” according to the column.
Adding to the problem, highlighted by the Glassdoor analysis, may be the loss of faith among a portion of the Microsoft employee base.
Here’s a look at how Ballmer ranks against some of his peers, including John Chambers of Cisco and Paul Otellini of Intel. Chambers, as you see, has taken a big fall.
UPDATE: A reader had asked to see a similar chart for Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz. Here’s a look at her approval rating, which has fallen to just 23 percent in recent months.