It seems that Nokia’s devices business acquisition has cost Microsoft not just $7.2 billion, but also the decades-long friendship of the Founder, Bill Gates and former CEO Steve Ballmer, as new reports claim that they are no longer in speaking terms, due to difference of opinion regarding the Nokia acquisition deal.
According to an article in the Vanity Fair’s November 2014 issue, citing several Redmond executives, Gates and Ballmer relationship started dwindling as early as 2001 but became obvious when Ballmer revealed his intention to leave the company. It is said that Ballmer planned to continue his career at Microsoft until 2017 but quit 4 years early which was a shock to Microsoft’s board.
Sources say that Ballmer had put across the idea of acquiring Nokia which he thought was his best idea and expected the board to approve it. Several of the board members have been against the deal and apparently, Gates had also been one among the several who opposed Ballmer’s plan to buy Nokia. This, which the report claims to be the Gates’ “ultimate betrayal” for Ballmer, was reportedly the blow that ended the pair’s friendship.
However, the board finally approved the deal but not with the same terms as Ballmer had drawn. But still, Ballmer said that it was time for him to move on and that “there was too much water under the bridge with this board.”
Earlier Ballmer admitted that he had struggled in the corner office at Redmond when he first took charge. He said that the worst work he did was between 2001 and 2004 when he assigned the A-team resources into Longhorn, on what he claimed to be “wrong thing,” the Windows revamp which failed and was later rolled out as Vista.
Although Ballmer continues to be the biggest stakeholder of Microsoft, he said that he rarely visits the Redmond office and that he is giving space to the company’s current CEO Satya Nadella while Gates is said to spend 30 percent of his time at the corner office advising Nadella on technology matters.