Microsoft CEO shocked everyone on Friday when he announced that he would be retiring from the company within the next year. And as expected, gossip and chatter started flowing soon after the news became official.
Moments before the announcement, however, came a report that ValueAct Capital, the investment firm that purchased a 1 percent stake in Microsoft back in April, was behind Ballmer’s decision to retire.
Now, famed Microsoft analyst Rick Sherlund, in an interview with The Seattle Times revealed that ValueAct had actually been trying to get a seat in the company’s board for a long time. And even though no public statement was released on this, the company was actively seeking to replace Ballmer as well.
ValueAct, according to Sherlund, even threatened the board with a proxy battle for a board seat in case the Redmond based technology giant did not replace the CEO:
“It’s not clear how big a role ValueAct played here, but I suspect they were a strong catalyst for change. Threatening to go out and conduct a proxy contest is the equivalent to dragging Ballmer as well as the board and Bill Gates through the mud for what’s happened to the company over the last 10 years.”
Dragging through the mud, yikes!
ValueAct, however, has refused to comment on the matter. But Steve Ballmer was quick to deny the report. The outgoing CEO said that his decision had nothing to do with the new investor:
“No. My retirement has nothing to do with that. My retirement has everything to do with what I think is the right long-term timing for Microsoft.”
There you go. While no other details are provided, but at least the man denies the activist agenda.
At the same time, however, ValueAct seems to be pushing for even bigger changes at Redmond, at least, according to recent insider reports.
The investment firm believes that Microsoft should focus more on the products that make the most difference — in other words, Windows and enterprise services, instead of Xbox and entertainment.