I flew out to the Bay Area on Monday and spent the week talking to people.
Now I'm stuck in SFO, waiting three hours for a delayed red eye flight back to New York.
So, I thought I'd share some of what I heard on a topic everyone wanted to talk about the past few days: Microsoft.
None of the following information came from first-hand, Microsoft sources.
It's just bar stool gossip. It's what some people in the tech industry believe is going on at Microsoft.
…Microsoft is in chaos. No one knows what to do right now.
…Ballmer didn't present this summer's big re-org for the company to the board until a week or so (maybe days) before it went through.
…Ballmer didn't know he was going to get canned until the last minute. It was an execution.
…Neither did ValueAct, the big Microsoft shareholder.
…In short, Ballmer's ouster was not a graceful, planned exit. It was a surprise execution.
…The firing was a Bill Gates production.
…Likewise, Gates is deeply engaged with the CEO search.
…Gates is planning on becoming a very active, hands-on chairman again.
…Gates is looking for a CEO who is comfortable with him being an active chairman, providing the vision for the company. Mainly, Gates wants someone with public company experience who will be able to manage Microsoft's 125,000+ employees.
…This is why Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is a likely candidate for the job.
…If Gates were to come back, it would make founder-obsessed Silicon Valley very happy. In an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about how badly he wants to see Gates back in charge.
…One idea for Microsoft: Spin off its consumer business. Optimize the Windows and Office franchises and invest the cash in developing an AWS-for-the-enterprise business. Hire someone like Marten Mickos to be CEO. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer talked about Microsoft hiring a enteprise-oriented CEO during her interview at TechCrunch Disrupt.
…Otherwise, pretty much everyone here thinks Gates is the only guy who has a shot at turning around a company that is basically a victim of its own success. Microsoft's problem, these people say, is its massive Windows "install base." It makes too much money from a businesses that is inevitably on the decline.
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