Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Janet I. Tu.
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October 1, 2013 at 6:18 PM
Several of Microsoft’s top investors feel Microsoft co-founder and board chairman Bill Gates’ presence on the board is now a hindrance and are lobbying the board to push for Gates to step down as chairman, according to a Reuters report.
The report, which cites “people familiar with the matter,” says that three of Microsoft’s top 20 investors are lobbying for the ouster, believing that “Gates’ presence on the board effectively blocks the adoption of new strategies and would limit the power of a new chief executive to make substantial changes. In particular, they point to Gates’ role on the special committee searching for Ballmer’s successor. They are also worried that Gates – who spends most of his time on his philanthropic foundation – wields power out of proportion to his declining shareholding.”
July 22, 2013 at 1:45 PM
There’s been a lot of buzz in the past few days about activist shareholder ValueAct’s apparent push for a seat on Microsoft’s board.
ValueAct Holdings, which disclosed earlier this year that it had purchased some $2 billion of Microsoft stock, has been talking with some Microsoft board members and large institutional shareholders about gaining a seat on Microsoft’s board, according to a Reuters report.
But with a less than 1 percent stake in the company, does ValueAct have the power to gain such a seat?
July 20, 2013 at 12:41 PM
[This story is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times on July 20, 2013.]
A day after Microsoft reported fourth-quarter financial results far below what Wall Street analysts had expected, the company’s stock price plunged 11.4 percent — the biggest single-day drop since January 2009.
Microsoft shares closed Friday at $31.40, down $4.04.
The slide reversed some three months of gains, in which Microsoft stock went from the high $20s to an intraday high of $36.43 on Tuesday this week, when it closed at $35.96.
There are rumblings and speculation that the fourth-quarter miss and the stock-price stumble could more easily pave the way for an activist shareholder, such as ValueAct Capital, to push for a seat on the company’s board.
Earlier this year, Jeff Ubben, founder of investment firm ValueAct, divulged that his company had purchased some $2 billion of Microsoft stock, giving it a less than 1 percent stake in the company.
ValueAct would have to notify Microsoft sometime between July 31 and Aug. 30 if it intends to bring any nominations for a board seat or issues for a floor vote during Microsoft’s annual meeting, which is typically held in late November.
ValueAct already has talked with some members of Microsoft’s board about securing a seat, according to a Reuters report Friday. Ubben could not be reached for comment.
[Continue reading the story here.]
April 29, 2013 at 11:38 AM
In case you missed it, this story — looking at how Microsoft is faring six months after the launch of Windows 8 — is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times today.
Here are some additional thoughts from analysts that didn’t make it into the story:
Rick Sherlund, Nomura:
- “Windows 8 is trying to reposition Microsoft in the tablet market and at the same time trying to preserve its presence in the traditional Windows market. And so far, it hasn’t resonated well in the tablet market. I think the real opportunity for Microsoft will be in the evolution of notebooks as they converge with these tablets.”
- “I think it’s really hard for Microsoft to break into the consumer tablet market where Apple already dominates with their product and with iTunes for content. Google is probably the real competition, long term, to be concerned about.”
- On rumors that Microsoft may be coming out with a 7-inch tablet device: “Office is where Microsoft has the most leverage. … I don’t know that the 7-inch form factor is a very good device for using Office. I don’t know if I would expect that to be a big seller for Microsoft. But you have to be there (in the 7-inch/small tablet space) – it’s obviously a big seller for consumers.”
- On rumors that the smaller tablet might be branded an Xbox tablet or have a strong Xbox branding or gaming component: “I like that idea – it appeals more and leverages more of their strength on the consumer side. (If Microsoft did this), it would be a more netbook style model: a Windows-type device at a lower price point, reduced capabilities. And try to throw in some Office capability for those who want Outlook and the ability to read and edit some attachments. … But if you don’t really need Office, then I think it’s important that Microsoft try to find some lever to try to find demand for their products. If you can leverage some Xbox capabilities that would appeal to a consumer, maybe throw some Skype in — Microsoft has to throw in a hook to leverage its appeal to the consumer.”