Was Ballmer’s melt-down before board the last straw?

It’s hard to be a leader.

Staffers expect you to be a hot-cold person: Have passion about what you’re doing, but at the same time keep your temper.

So consider a BusinessWeek report that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer lost his job because he lost his head with the board of directors over whether the company should buy the handset business of Nokia.

According to many media report Ballmer has a short fuse. So it comes as no surprise that — according to people who were told about the meeting — last June he shouted at the board that if he couldn’t get his way he couldn’t be CEO.

The Nokia purchase was controversial on two levels: Price, and whether Microsoft needed to be in the hardware business. (Those who say yes point to Apple; those who say no point to BlackBerry and Android.).

Reportedly then chairman and co-founder Bill Gates initially was on the no side.

It’s an interesting piece about Ballmer’s decade as CEO, which includes word that present CEO Satya Nadella (who wasn’t on the board) was also initially against the deal.

The article doesn’t quite say that the reported explosion before the board was the last straw. But two months later he announced his resignation.

Ballmer is sticking to his guns. ComputerWorld U.S. reports that he told a business school audience at Oxford University Microsoft should have had a mobile hardware play years ago.

On the other hand what he regrets most was the move from the triumph of Windows XP to the raspberries thrown at Windows Vista.

Now Nadella is left with crafting Microsoft’s mobile strategy, for better or worse, with Nokia. It’s going to be an interesting 12 months.

Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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