Microsoft co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates and outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer are both up for re-election to the company’s board of directors according to a recent proxy filing. It’s a situation that normally wouldn’t be newsworthy but the stakes have changed in recent months as activist investors have been calling for new leadership to help Microsoft better compete in the mobile industry.
Earlier this month, three of Microsoft’s top 20 investors reportedly urged Bill Gates to step down as Chairman. They believe the amount of power he has over the board is too high compared to the amount of shares he owns and that he might have a negative impact on selecting the next company CEO.
Company shareholders will convene on November 19 to vote on the new board of directors. Fortunately for Gates and Ballmer, the board has recommended they both be re-elected to their current positions. Furthermore, the two will likely have some power at the company as Gates is the single largest shareholder with 4.52 percent of the company’s stock while Ballmer holds 3.99 percent.
All other board members own less than one percent of the company although investment firm BlackRock owns 5.57 percent - still less than the 8.51 percent Gates and Ballmer own together.
Ballmer announced plans to retire as CEO back in August but will stay on until a replacement is found. A special committee was created and is actively seeking his successor. At last check, Ford chief Alan Mulally was said to be the frontrunner for the job.