By his own admission, outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is “big, bald and loud.” These are traits that have helped him impose his will at Microsoft for years but apparently there are limits to how far Ballmer’s brash personality can take him. Unnamed sources tell Bloomberg Businessweek that Microsoft’s board of directors finally reached the end of its rope with Ballmer after he got into a screaming match with them over his plan to buy up Nokia’s handset division last year.
“Ballmer was so loud that day in June his shouts could be heard outside the conference room,” Bloomberg Businessweek writes. “He’d just been told the board didn’t back his plan to acquire two Nokia units, according to people with knowledge of the meeting. He later got most of what he wanted, with the board signing off on a $7.2 billion purchase of Nokia’s mobile-phone business, but by then the damage was done.”
“The damage,” as it turns out, was that the board moved much more aggressively to get Ballmer to announce his retirement, which he did in August last year. Yale University business professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld tells Bloomberg Businessweek that there’s no way Ballmer would have gone so quietly if he felt that he still had Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates’ backing. However, in the wake of Ballmer’s angry Nokia tirade it looks like Gates got on board with making a change.