Ballmer’s exit value is now Nadella’s to preserve

August 20, 2014

Microsoft’s market capitalization grew by over $100 bln from the day about a year ago the longtime CEO said he would resign to Tuesday, when he left the board. With his predecessor fading from the picture, maintaining the momentum is now firmly in new boss Satya Nadella’s hands.

Mini-me tech bubble is mere shadow of 2000 excess

May 5, 2014

The run-up may have paused, but dozens of companies are in line to float, hubris is rampant, oddball metrics abound, and revenue-free startups are still worth fortunes. Even nerd culture has become hip. The latest internet boom is as absurd as the last, but it’s far smaller.

Microsoft founders recede into middle distance

February 4, 2014

Satya Nadella’s experience makes him a solid CEO choice. He also has greater room to maneuver as Bill Gates steps down as chairman. He’ll need to grapple with bad decisions, like the Nokia deal, and is unlikely to pursue a breakup. But he can focus on what the company does best.

New Microsoft CEO needs “less is more” mindset

August 23, 2013

Steve Ballmer is finally on the way out. A $20 bln bump in Microsoft’s value on the news shows just how badly investors wanted a new approach. The wasteful “try everything” strategy should go. Ballmer’s successor can start by jettisoning most efforts outside business software.

Facebook answers questions rivals can’t

July 24, 2013

Big tech firms have reported subpar Q2 earnings, with Microsoft the leading victim of the shift to mobile computing. By contrast, Mark Zuckerberg’s social network is thriving on portable gadgets, and Facebook’s revenue growth was the fastest since its IPO. There’s more fuel here.

Microsoft needs focus, gets bigger org chart

July 11, 2013

Boss Steve Ballmer says the software giant must speed up and focus on what customers want. That at least is the gist of two sprawling memos justifying a sweeping restructuring. Yet the Microsoft organization now looks more complex. And the company is vague about its purpose.

U.S. online spying leak could harm Silicon Valley

June 8, 2013

Spy agencies are mining data from Internet giants including Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft. The publication of some details may provide a privacy selling point for those not cooperating, like Twitter. It could also encourage other governments to engage in data nationalism.

Is Microsoft the quiet villain of global finance?

April 19, 2013

Excel errors overstated structured finance ratings, dented JPMorgan’s risk management and tripped up theories on fiscal austerity. PowerPoint, Word and Outlook also can obfuscate in myriad ways. The value of the U.S. software giant’s tools is undercut by the trouble they cause.

Heinz deal gives taste of new buyout secret sauce

February 14, 2013

Private equity firm 3G is swallowing the ketchup maker for $28 bln with Warren Buffett’s help. In the past, such mega-buyouts required multiple LBO firms to work. With club deals all but dead, the Heinz takeover, like Dell’s, shows the new way forward.

Google won’t evade rivals as easily as feds

January 4, 2013

An extensive U.S. antitrust probe into the dominant search engine ended with a company promise to behave. The government’s case always looked shaky. If it couldn’t nail Microsoft, Google was a pipe dream. Just as well. For now, it’s still a problem for the market to sort out.