Steve Ballmer is taking it on the chin yet again this week, this time for a reportedly uninspired performance at Microsoft’s annual employee meeting.

Tech bloggers are abuzz over anonymous comments on the anonymous Mini-Microsoft blog asserting that the Microsoft CEO’s appearance on stage prompted many employees to leave Safeco Field “in droves” for bathroom breaks or, worse yet, a comfortable booth at nearby pub.

Business Insider has done an entire slide show of the anonymous comments, of course.

The meeting was closed to outsiders so we don’t know if the situation is being exaggerated. But we’ve known for a while that Ballmer has been falling out of favor with employees.

Here’s the deal: You can argue forever about the company’s direction, and whether Ballmer is the right person to lead Microsoft at this point in its corporate lifecycle, and we know you will.

But with Ballmer maintaining the support of the company’s board — including its chairman and his longtime friend, Bill Gates — the simple reality is that it’s going to take some cataclysmic event or a major shareholder revolution to shake things up at the top of the company.

No, it’s not good if a company’s employees treat their CEO’s speech like the ninth inning of a baseball blowout, aiming to get back across 520 before the evening commute, if that’s what happened. But all this passive-aggressive, anonymous chatter is hard to take seriously until the people who own the company — which includes those employees, by the way — decide to do something real about it.

PreviouslyMicrosoft board member says group is no rubber stamp

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  • John W Baxter

    The nearby pubs only hold very small droves.
    Thanks for the sanity check. (This comment by a Microsoft outsider–OK, I have a TechNet sub.)

  • Guest

    Gotta love employees who are just passionate enough to walk to the exits and get drunk while their CEO speaks, but not passionate enough to do anything about it. (Such as quit, start their own company, go to a better company, etc.)

  • guest

    That’s funny.  I could have sworn at the company meeting, there was the usual riotous cheering and applause when Ballmer came out, along with the prolonged standing ovation.  The place was packed, and yeah, people duck out early to start drinking, but by no means a large majority.

  • Guest

    “Here’s the deal: You can argue forever about the company’s direction, and whether Ballmer is the right person to lead Microsoft at this point in its corporate lifecycle, and we know you will.”

    The fact that it is the constant focal point and has been for years is prima facie evidence of why a change is needed. Then you have the abundant objective evidence.

    But you’re right, he can only be removed by the board or shareholders. And clearly the board is committed to seeing MS continue down the same path that has led to higher revenue and profits over the last decade, but dramatically curtailed growth, a deteriorating competitive position, decreased relevance, declining confidence in its future, and of course the loss of its previously long held title as the most profitable and valuable technology company. So it really comes down to shareholders, including those employees. And to date they haven’t demonstrated much interest, which frankly is amazing given the magnitude of the stock decline under Steve. However, as unlikely as it seems that they will suddenly get motivated to take on Steve and the board, it’s equally unlikely that this situation can go on forever, particularly now that Ballmer is apparently losing the confidence of his employees as well.

  • Paul

    Bashing or accountability?

  • Anonymous

    To me Ballmer is ok. Microsoft is not going into the ground or anything close to it losing business  Windows 8 is actually making outside people get drawn closer to Microsoft for the good, or the bad. For the most part…good.

  • Mark

    Recruit Maritz. Fire Ballmer.

  • clive boulton

    Tweeted @mithund: “Windows!, Windows!, Windows! that’s the best bet on the planet” – Steve Ballmer at our Annual Company meeting (My last one!)

    • Guest


      • clive boulton


        • Guest

          Except that one has nothing to do with the other.

    • Guest


  • Kpt

    It might be better explained by what a nice day it was. I looked at my co-worker sitting next to me, and said: it’s probably the nicest day left in the year. We could hang out and watch the bald guy try to pump us up, but I already like my job. Let’s go for a walk.

  • Reality

    Invested boat load of money to MSFT, after 7 years it still is worth the same… I hold Ballmer responsible for the f up. Enough with the used car salesman level business leadership. MSFT needs someone who can drive the company not ride it… Change is needed and expected.

  • Anonymous

    A more interesting chart is the plots the stock price from when Ballmer assumed CEO (Jan. 2000) to current. More alarming is to add AAPL, GOOG, IBM, or AMZN, take your pick.

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