Bill Gates, speaking on the set of CBS This Morning, was asked point-blank by Charlie Rose if he was happy with Steve Ballmer’s performance as CEO. The Microsoft chairman’s response acknowledged some of the company’s missteps but made it clear that he still supports Ballmer in the role.
Gates responded, “He and I are two of the most self-critical people you can imagine. There were a lot of amazing things that Steve’s leadership got done with the company last year. Windows 8 is key to the future. The Surface computer. Bing people are seeing as a better search product. Xbox.”
He continued, “But is it enough? No. He and are not satisfied that, in terms of breakthrough things, that we’re doing everything possible.”
Gates offered smartphones as an example. This is an area where Ballmer has been widely criticized for not seeing the potential of the iPhone.
“There’s a lot of things like cell phones where we didn’t get out in the lead very early. … We didn’t miss cell phones, but the way we went about it didn’t allow us to get the leadership. So it’s clearly a mistake.”
At one point, Rose pointed out that much of the coverage about Microsoft isn’t about what it’s doing right, but what it should be doing better.
Gates laughed. “Oh, we appreciate the advice,” he said.