Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen isn’t the only longtime Microsoft associate who wants the company to dump Bing and the Xbox. Barron’s has flagged some more interesting details of a research note published Wednesday by Normura analyst Rick Sherlund, whom The New York Times once described as Goldman Sachs’ “point person” for its dealings with Microsoft and who is also a longtime friend of Bill Gates. What makes the note particularly interesting is that Sherlund’s advice largely mirrors that of Paul Ghaffari, the man who heads up Allen’s private investment vehicle: He wants Microsoft to get out of its unprofitable search and gaming businesses.
“We estimate Microsoft has lost $17 billion with Bing over the past 10 years,” Sherlund explains. “It may be concerning to watch Google give away its Android operating system… but this is a superior business model… it is not important that Microsoft receive $5 or $10 billion for Bing … but rather that it eliminate about 20 cents per share in annual losses.”
The $17 billion loss, if accurate, is a truly stunning figure that dwarfs earlier estimates that showed Microsoft losing “only” $11 billion trying to compete with Google in the search market over the last decade.
Sherlund is bullish on Microsoft’s longterm potential as long as it cuts loose its money-losing businesses in the coming years and as long as it appoints Ford CEO Alan Mulally as its next chief executive.