Microsoft Annual Shareholder Meeting 2013 - wailing, the gnashing of teeth and the rending of loincloths optional

Nov 20, 2013

There's an outbreak of infectious blubbing doing the rounds at MIcrosoft with the top bods keening and weeping into their skinny lattes at the drop of one of those baseball caps with a little popeller on the top.

Reporting to the shareholders on the progress of the search for a successor to Mr. Ballmer proved too emotional for Mr. Gates and he choked-up as he looked back with wistful nostalgia to their time together at the company.

Bill Gates said that both he and Steve Ballmer are dedicated to ensuring "that the next CEO is the right person for the right time for the company we both love."

Gates is one member of a four-man-strong committee that, back in August, when Steve Ballmer announced his plan to step down (before he was pushed as it has since been revealed), was given up to a year to find only the third CEO of Microsoft in its 38-year history. The selection committee has been reticent to discuss matters but persistent rumours have it that the short-list is now down to a handful if individuals.

The shareholders approved all the proposals tabled in the meeting agenda and Messrs. Gates and Ballmer were duly re-elected to the Board of Directors. Both nominees gained more than 90 per cent of the vote's cast. Not quite as good as the results achieved by candidate in elections held in North Korea but impressive all the same.

There was brown-nosing as well with one shareholder proposing that the US government should be petitioned to create a special cabinet post for an "Information Technology Secretary." It would be filled, natch, by Mr. Ballmer who is, of course, rightly revered for his diplomatic skills and empathetic manner.

But he was damned with faint praise by Sid Parakh, an analyst with McAdams, Wright, Ragan, who commented, 'He [Ballmer] tried hard. Nobody can doubt his commitment to Microsoft [but] the missing element was execution." Ouch.

And we should remember Mr. Ballmer's comments on the iPhone. When it was launched in 2007, speaking in a TV interview the Microsoft CEO said, "That is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn't appeal to business customers." By last year sales of the iPhone alone accounted for more than all of Microsoft's revenues from every one of its divisions across the entire planet.

As C.S Lewis, the Narnia Man, wrote in "The Silver Chair", "Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.”

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