Ballmer, Gates no longer pals; blame Nokia, Vista

Nate Swanner - Oct 8, 2014, 5:15 pm CDT
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Ballmer, Gates no longer pals; blame Nokia, Vista

It seems the Nokia deal former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer pulled off right before leaving the company had a strong ripple effect. Not only is Microsoft feeling the squeeze to produce great handsets and carry on Nokia’s legacy, but a friendship was ruined in the process. Ballmer and Bill Gates are apparently on the outs, and are no longer on speaking terms with one another. The reason for the former besties not talking to one another is that Nokia buy, and Ballmer’s actions shortly after.


The relationship went beyond the employee/employer relationship. Ballmer was Gates’ best man at his 1994 wedding, but started as Ballmer took over the company Gates founded. The problems started right around 2001, when an apparent power struggle — Ballmer was the new CEO at the time, but Gates was still around — led them to a strained relationship.

A heavy-handed Ballmer was also confident the Microsoft board would look kindly on his idea to buy Nokia, which he first pitched in June 2013. They didn’t approve, incensing Ballmer. He was apparently even more upset Gates, who sat on the board, didn’t support his pitch.

Ballmer drew a line in the sand, and said he’d leave if the Nokia deal wasn’t accepted. The board caved to an altered version of the deal — likely to take Nokia mobile, not the entire kit and kaboodle — to appease their CEO.
Ballmer resigned in August.

Though Ballmer admits Microsoft missed the mobile train under his stewardship, he points to Gates’ Windows Vista as the problem. According to Ballmer, they had all their talent focussed there instead of other areas. Codenamed Longhorn, Vista also took up six years of Microsoft’s time, with Ballmer saying “I put the A-team resources on Longhorn, not on phones or browsers. All of our resources were tied up on the wrong thing.”

Source: Vanity Fair


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