Bill Gates to take a more active role at Microsoft?

Report suggests he could step down as chairman of the board in order to put his focus on products

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
February 3, 2014
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It never seemed very plausible to me when people began talking about Bill Gates returning as CEO of Microsoft in the wake of Steve Ballmer's retirement announcement.

Honestly, it's almost as if those people forgot that this is a man who has spent the past decade and a half focusing almost exclusively his philanthropic work. Gates has made clear that he zero interest in coming back to work at Microsoft full time, and there was no reason that he would change his mind now.

That did not mean that he had no interest or involvement in the company he founded; even after he stopped working there full-time back in 2008, he remained as chairman of the board. Now, it is coming out that he might actually begin taking a more active role in the company once again, though nowhere near the same level he would if he once again became CEO.

Microsoft is mulling the possibility of replacing Gates as chairman; if that does happen, he would, in turn, remain as a director, but also increase his involvement in helping to develop Microsoft's products, according to a report out from Bloomberg on Monday. 

Sources also said that Gates could actually begin working at Microsoft again, albeit only one day a week.

If Gate is no longer chairman, a position he had held for 33 years, someone else will obviously have to fill that role. The new chairman of the board could wind up being current Director John Thompson, who led the CEO search committee for Ballmer's replacement.

Gates, of course, was CEO of Microsoft from 1975 to January 2000, when he handed the reigns over to Ballmer. Ballmer announced in August of last year that he would be stepping down as CEO after the board of directors, and Thompson in particular, told him he was too slow.

The candidates for the new Microsoft CEO seemed to come down to two candidates: Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally and Satya Nadella, executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group. Aftyer Mulally publically stated that he would not accept the position, reports have been swirling for the last few days that Nadella is all set to take the job.

It will be interesting to see how much of a role Gates actually winds up playing if this all pans out, and if he us actually willing put more of his time into helping Microsoft develop their products, which have largely not panned out under Ballmer's leadership.

In July of last year, right before Ballmer's announcement, he revealed that the company would be getting a huge reorganization, with a renewed focus on devices over packaged software, which is what the company began known for under Gates.

Even though he has remained with one foot in the door of his old company, Gates has been away from the game for a long time now. Things are so much different than they were just give years ago, forget about 15. Back in Gate's day, the personal computer was king. Things have shifted heavily since those days toward smartphones and tablets.

So, ask yourself honestly, is he really the best choice to begin reviewing products at this point? 

That is why some are already wondering aloud if Gate's new role is just for show to give the company the illusion of leadership while Nadella, who has never held a CEO role before, finds his sealegs. 

VatorNews has reached out to Microsoft to get a comment on these reports. We will update if we learn more.

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