Steve Ballmer holds a tight grip on Microsoft Corp.’s board and is wont to turf out managers who go up against him or threaten his supremacy, according to a former top executive of the software maker.

Joachim Kempin, former senior vice-president of OEM sales for the Redmond, Wash-based firm, also said that in order to turn its fortunes around, Microsoft needs a major management revamp that perhaps should include Ballmer.
Steve Ballmer (image from


Ballmer intentionally ousted executives whom he saw as threats to his CEO position, said Kempin. This attitude led several potential successors to Ballmer to leave Microsoft.

Kempin worked at Microsoft between 1983 and 2002.

Kempin, who left Microsoft as some of the contracts he oversaw with PC manufacturers where believed to have led the U.S. government to investigate and later prosecute the company, is the most senior executive of the firm to write a book critical of the Microsoft.

His book, Resolve and Fortitude: Microsoft’s “secret power roker” breaks his silenece, is scheduled for release today.

Although Microsoft can count Bing, the Xbox and Windows 7 among its accomplishments since Ballmer took the helm in 2000, the company has been caught flatfooted lately by nimble rivals such as Apple Inc. and Google in the important areas of search, mobile, media players and tablet devices.
Kempin contends the company needs a younger CEO that understands social media and the mobile community.

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