Three of Microsoft Corp’s top 20 investors are pressurizing the board to ask Bill Gates, the co-founder of the 38 year old software company, to step down from the company’s chairman post.
According to sources, Microsoft’s board is showing no interest in what investors are saying. The three investors who reportedly hold more than 5 percent of the company’s stock collectively have asked for their names to be kept secret as the meeting was held privately. Gates being Microsoft’s largest individual shareholder holds around 4.5 percent of the $277 billion company.
The main concern of the investors is that Gates’ role as chairman is restricting the company to adopt new strategies and may limit new chief executive’s power to make major changes in the company. They, in particular, pointed at Gates’ role on the special committee which is searching for Ballmer’s successor.
Gates owned around 49 percent of the company in 1986 before Microsoft went public. Under a pre-set plan Gates sells around 80 million Microsoft shares every year – a situation if continued might leave him with no financial stake in the company by the end of 2018.
The news that investors are pushing the board to oust Gates has received mixed reactions from shareholders. There are those who feel that striking off big names from the company will allow Microsoft to garner a fresh pair of eyes and much needed oxygen to overhaul the corporate strategy if need be. There are those who consider Gates to be the perfect person for the CEO’s role because he may be the technology visionary that the company has been missing for years.
Microsoft share prices have been more or less static since a decade and the fact that it has lost a lot of ground to Apple and Google in the mobile computing arena there is a lot at stake for the new CEO.