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Can Bill Gates save Microsoft?

Lawrence Lewitinn
Talking Numbers
Can Bill Gates save Microsoft?

Is it likely that Bill Gates could come back and, if he does, can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced plans to step down within the next 12 months. Only its legendary founder Bill Gates can fill those shoes, says one Silicon Valley CEO.

In a recent interview, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said that Bill Gates is the only person who has the vision to turn around Microsoft.

(Read: Microsoft in talks to buy stake in start-up Foursquare)

Gates took the company from a tiny startup to the world’s most valuable corporation in 2000. When he stepped down in January of that year, the company was worth about $570 billion.

But, since Steve Ballmer took control of the company, Microsoft’s value has fallen to $278 billion. Meanwhile, its once-smaller, downtrodden rival Apple has seen its stock move up nearly 1,800% and its value eclipse Microsoft’s to its current $443 billion. And that’s 39% less than where it was almost a year ago.

Former CEOs returning to their old posts is not unheard of. In fact, it’s practically in vogue. AF Lafley recently came back as CEO of Procter & Gamble after stepping down in 2010. After contentious boardroom battles, Mike Ullman is once again CEO of JC Penney two years after having been replaced by Ron Johnson.

The most famous return of a tech CEO, though, was Steve Jobs comeback as the head of Apple, the company he founded around the same time Gates started Microsoft. From Jobs’ return in 1997 until his passing in 2011, Apple shares soared over 9,000% as Jobs spearheaded such groundbreaking products as the iPod, the iPhone, and iPad.

(Read: Morgan Stanley: BlackBerry upgrade? 'No, thanks')

Though Bill Gates may have retired 13 years ago, he’s 57 years old, just two years older than the median age of S&P 500 CEOs. And, since he’s still on the board of Microsoft, he still knows the ins and outs of that company.

So, is it likely that Bill Gates could come back and, if he does, can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Answering those questions are two CNBC contributors. Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico Global, looks at the fundamentals of Microsoft. Examining the charts of “Mister Softee” is Todd Gordon, founder of TradingAnalysis.com.

Is Microsoft due for a turnaround? Watch the video above to see Sanchez and Gordon analyze the company to help you decide.


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