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Power Crazed Steve Ballmer Culls Internal Rivals: Former Microsoft Exec

By Tony Ibrahim | Wednesday | 23/01/2013

Steven Ballmer systematically outs CEO candidates who could potentially take his role at Microsoft, a 19 year Microsoft veteran claims.

Steve Ballmer has reigned as Microsoft's CEO as of 2000

Between 1983 and 2002, Joachim Kempin worked alongside Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer overseeing the sale of Windows software to computer makers. During his time, Kempin allegedly witnessed CEO Steve Ballmer stifle up-and-coming CEO candidates until they left the company.

"For Microsoft to really get back in the game seriously, you need a big change in management…As much as I respect Steve Ballmer, he may be part of that in the end," Kempin said in an interview with Reuters about his new book, Resolve and fortitude: Microsoft's "secret power broker" breaks his silence.

Kempin first witnessed the systematic play when it happened to Richard Belluzzo. A former Hewlett Packard executive, Belluzzo was credited with launching Microsoft's popular Xbox console and reached the ranks of Chief Operating Officer, only to leave 14 months later. Speaking to Reuters, Kempin offered his perspective on Belluzzo and Ballmer's relationship:

"He (Belluzzo) had no room to breathe on the top. When you work that directly with Ballmer and Ballmer believes 'maybe this guy could someday take over from me', my God, you will have less air to breathe, that's what it comes down to."

In November of 2012, Windows 8 president Stephen Sinofsky abruptly left the company after 23 years of service. Sinofsky was the man recognised with improving Windows' usability (as of Vista) and made sure its release and updates adhered to strict timelines. Unfortunately he's just one of many recent departures.

Former Windows 8 President Stephen Sinofsky

Read 'Effective Immediately': Windows 8 President Leaves Microsoft

Windows and online head Kevin Johnson, Microsoft Office chief Stephen Elop and software guru Ray Ozzie all parted company with Microsoft under Ballmer's reign.

"Ozzie is a great software guy, he knew what he was doing. But when you see Steve (Ballmer) and him on stage where he (Ozzie) opposed Steve, it was Steve's way or the highway," Kempin said.

Ray Ozzie (Left) and Steve Ballmer (Rght)

Leading the company is not the role Ballmer is best suited for, warns Kempin, who claims Ballmer was best utilised as the company's Chief Operating Officer.

"Steve is a very good business guy, but make him a chief operating officer, not a CEO…I respect that guy (Ballmer), but there are some limitations in what he can and can't do and maybe he hasn't realized them himself."

"Is he (Ballmer) a great CEO? I don't think so. Microsoft's board is a lame duck board, has been forever. They hire people to help them administer the company, but not to lead the company. That's the problem."

Kempin clearly sees Microsoft's archaic board as part of the problem and believes Microsoft would best thrive if they hired "a younger [CEO] who understands the Facebook Inc generation and this mobile community," aged around 35 to 40.

"They don't need this guy on stage with this fierce, aggressive look, announcing the next version of Windows and thinking he can score with that."

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