TORONTO – Three of the top 20 investors of tech giant Microsoft Corp. are reportedly calling for chairman Bill Gates to step down, according to a report from Reuters.
Citing people familiar with the matter, Reuters reported that the unnamed investors are concerned that Gates’ presence on the board is blocking the adoption of new strategies and that the Microsoft co-founder would limit the power of a new chief executive.
The report comes just months after the tech giant announced CEO Steve Ballmer will retire within the next 12 months. Gates, who co-founded Microsoft over 38 years ago, is a part of the committee searching for Ballmer’s replacement.
“There is no indication that Microsoft’s board would heed the wishes of the three investors, who collectively hold more than 5 percent of the company’s stock, according to the sources,” read Reuter’s report, noting that Gates remains the largest individual shareholder owning about 4.5 per cent of the company.
The report also noted that investors were concerned that Gates “wields power out of proportion to his declining shareholding,” adding that Gates’ main focus is now his charitable foundation.
Microsoft announced a sweeping reorganization of its business in July in an attempt to reignite competition with faster-moving rivals such as Apple and Google after response to Windows 8 was lukewarm.
The company has said it will continue with this strategy going forward as the search for a new CEO continues.
Despite the disappointing release of Windows 8 and increased pressure due to the decline in personal computers, Microsoft remains one of the world’s most valuable technology companies with a net profit of $22 billion last year.
Both Gates and Microsoft Corp. have not commented on the reports.