Marc Benioff
Marc Benioff

SAN FRANCISCO — When Michael Arrington asked CEO Marc Benioff who the next CEO of Microsoft should be on stage this morning at TechCrunch Disrupt, Benioff had a one-word answer: “Gates.”

“I think that the only way to save Microsoft right now, because it is such a disaster, is he needs to come back, not forever, but for a specified period of time, maybe 36 months, because he has to push the reset button on two things,” Benioff said.

“He needs to push the reset button on his mantras that he installed in the company, like ‘Windows everywhere’ and all this. He’s got a bunch of mantras which are these processes that still run in the company, that aren’t doing the company any good.

“Number two, he needs to push the reset button on people. Not just get rid of Ballmer, but he’s got a lot of people in that company that he needs to hit the reset button on, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

When asked if he thinks Microsoft can be saved without Gates’s help, Benioff was cautiously pessimistic.

“Sure, of course, Microsoft will be around in ten years, but in what role?” Benioff said. “You know, ten years ago, they had command and control over our industry, and today they are just a very large company who likes to throw its weight around and try to be disruptive.”

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  • Guest

    Never going to happen and absolutely the wrong guy anyway. Has everyone forgotten that Gates was CTO for a good part of Ballmer’s run and Chairman and chief enabler for all of it? In the rush to condemn Ballmer for his many mistakes, deserved as that is, Bill and the rest of the board are being given a pass. The board, and particularly Gates, is every bit as responsible for what has transpired as Steve is. More so, even. The only important question is whether Bill and the board need to be cleared out as well in order for the new CEO to have any chance? Because if he/she are fighting Bill and his influence the entire time, that’s a recipe for failure.

  • Birdonawire45

    From the sounds of this article, it would appear that Benioff is throwing his hat in the ring. Can’t say I disagree with him. MS needs a culture shift to revitalize itself. Probably not going to happen with Gates though.

  • john

    I know that nobody takes Scott Forstall seriously as a CEO candidate, but I think he would rock. Youngest ever VP at Apple. Father of iOS. And from the Pacific Northwest. Brash, smart as hell, and an innovator. A bad fit for what Microsoft is now maybe, but not for what Microsoft wants to be.

    • Guest

      In many ways he might be ideal. But you’re right he’s unlikely to be on the list. He may also still be under a non-compete as part of whatever severance he worked out with Apple.

    • 21tigermike

      And also completely disinterested in the job.

  • 21tigermike

    Cue the WIRED covers….

  • jasongrimes

    Toughie, MS brought me here via the mothership 15 years ago. I remember going to BillG’s house and meeting him and other executives for us interns. Things are different today and I don’t doubt Gates has the capacity to return to help change direction, motivate and more importantly recruit. Honestly he’s doing more for human kind right now than any software that’s changing my life. I don’t doubt innovation can’t blow us away, but he’s innovating in healthcare, disease prevention and in so many other great areas. If I was CEO I would “ask” for some coaching and appearances, but don’t expect anything more. Just my 2 cents as someone who has 0 at stake. Great article tho!

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