Steve Ballmer might not be the only one leaving Microsoft if a group of investors have their way. Reuters reported that three of Microsoft’s top twenty investors are pushing to remove Bill Gates as chairman of the company. Gates founded Microsoft 38 years ago and remains involved to some degree in the company, though he retired from day-to-day business in 2008 to concentrate on his philanthropic activities.
Reuters reports that the three unnamed investors together own about 5% of Microsoft, while Gates is the largest individual shareholder and holds about 4.5%. Apparently, the investors are concerned that Gates has an influence within the company that is out of proportion with his actual stake. As Microsoft seeks to move in a new direction, the investors believe that influence could prevent Ballmer’s successor from attempting new strategies.
However, this is just a proposal and there is no indication that the board will move forward with the suggestion to push Gates out. After all, Microsoft’s board has its hands full already with the search for Ballmer’s replacement. So far, the top two runners seem to be Stephen Elop, who is returning to Microsoft following the company’s $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services division, and Ford CEO Alan Mulally. Though Mulally has said he intends to remain at Ford through 2014, he may yet have a change of heart.