The Business On... Steve Ballmer, chief executive, Microsoft
Wednesday 05 October 2011
He's still there then?
Hanging on doggedly. More than 11 years after taking over from Bill Gates, his Harvard hall-mate, Mr Ballmer shows no sign of moving on.
Shareholders love him, right?
Well, not all of them. He's already faced one call to step down this year – in May, David Einhorn, the boss of Greenlight Capital, complained that Mr Ballmer had become a drag on the company's share price. "Someone else ought to have a go," Mr Einhorn said.
But the board backs him?
Yes, but the details of his latest pay and rewards, released yesterday, make interesting reading. The board opted to pay him only half the bonus he could have made last year had he hit all his targets.
Why did he miss out?
Because of the problems Mr Einhorn has been highlighting. Microsoft's Bing search engine is doing better and the Kinect home entertainment system has been a hit. But sales of its all-important Windows operating system have begun to slow and, crucially, Microsoft keeps losing ground to Google and Apple. It is still behind the curve on mobile phone and tablet computer technology.
All the same, no doubt his pay deal was still mega?
Actually, his remuneration totalled $1.3m – half bonus, half pay. To most of us, of course, that's a huge sum, but it's quite modest compared to the pay of the CEOs of many other large companies. Rival technology companies routinely pay their bosses $15m a year or more.
Will he get by?
Don't panic, he's not on his uppers. Forbes ranks him as the US's 46th wealthiest individual, putting his fortune at around $14.5bn. He owns 4 per cent of Microsoft – and,actually, one of the reasons his pay is lower than many others is because he's chosen to stop taking stock options from the company.
Any chance of a pay rise instead?
Microsoft's board has given him two per cent extra this year. The company says it is conscious Mr Ballmer – its 30th employee when he joined in 1980 – is "underpaid".
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