Being the head of a company is not an easy task, but most CEO’s do their best to accommodate. The 5 we have on our lists are by far the worst of the bunch:
Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft
About 5 years ago, Microsoft was the power horse of the computer industry. Windows was a major player in households and no one really thought that a rival company, named after a fruit, would be able to knock this top dog off its podium. Fast forward to 2011 and things have drastically changed for the former tech giant. Enter CEO Steve Ballmer, who was at the helm of the money pit that was Vista. He failed to secure Yahoo for Microsoft and steered the company into buying Skype for an interesting sum of $8.5 billion. With things looking a little bleak Ballmer is holding out for the success of Windows 8, but with so much uncertainty in the market and Apple still miles ahead, he might be on his way out.
Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia
Nokia is going the way of the dinosaurs. Well actually that’s not true, but if it keeps to its current course it will go bankrupt. Although Nokia does have 40% of the worldwide share in mobile phones, in the last year they have dropped their market to around 8% in the US because of iPhones and other smart phone technologies. This is because Nokia never jumped onto the band wagon of smart phones and will slowly be phased out if they don’t turn their ideas around. This unfortunately all stems from the management believing in reviewing the audience for these phones rather than making a product and seeing what would happen.
Now Elop isn’t really as bad as you think, but coming from Microsoft (the worst tech company to launce new products) there is a little distrust towards him. Add in the fact that in a recent internal memo to his employees he warned them that they were all on a burning platform and the flames were getting higher, it doesn’t really ooze confidence in the new leader…
Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo
Yahoo has been around quite a while and after the previous CEO, Jerry Yang, rejected a buyout bid from Microsoft the investors were a little annoyed and so Yang was out and Bartz entered the ring. There was speculation whether or not Bartz would be able to bring the company back from the brink, as she was a hardened, tough talking executive that Wall street favoured.
Boy were people wrong about her.
In the two years that Bartz controlled the company the shares remained consistently flat, advertising revenue stayed the same even though they have a constant flow of 600 million unique users, she did not meet annual performance goals and not coming up with a credible strategic plan.
Bartz was fired by the board and on top of her failings she insulted the chairman by insulting his manhood.
Good for you girl, go out on a nasty note to show how professional you are!
Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems
Jonathan Schwartz was a bad businessman. He had a ponytail. Need I go on?
By the time he had sold Sun Microsystems to Oracle for $7.4 billion the company had been damaged so badly that acquisition was the only outcome.
During the 80s the company was founded by a group of engineers and it’s then CEO, Scott McNealy, who managed to make Sun Microsystems one of four dominant players in the server and processor space, which included Oracle, HP and IBM.
When Schwartz was elected president in 2006 the company started its decline. It post market share to its rivals and because of significant loss of revenue, the company had to lose 18% of its employees. Fearing bankruptcy Schwartz bought MySQL and tried to utilise it to bring in more income, however this failed and after he attempted to monetise java software (a free program) it was game over for Schwartz and his time at the company.
George Shaheen, CEO of Webvan.com
During the dot-com revolution, George Shaheen was brought in to oversee Webvan. He was a big player about town having made Andersen Consulting a large brand and when he was brought on there were high hopes for the fledgling business to become huge.
Unfortunately Shaheen didn’t really understand the sector he had been thrust into. Webvan operated by the customer ordering food and it being delivered within 30 minutes to their door. They aimed for 26 cities in the first year and managed 10. The company wittered away $1.5 billion over a year and a half and soon had to start firing it’s employees to compensate. Shaheen wasn’t put off and went ahead to buy an online grocery business that sunk the company further into debt as he didn’t understand that retailers operate on tiny margins and Webvan had no leverage with customers to improve that.
So all in all the company failed and worse of all it was found out that his cockiness at believing his own hype led to him not even consulting the board of directors of the company to help the situation.
Images courtesy of Steve Ballmer, Jonathan Schwartz, Stephen Elop, George Shaheen and Carol Bartz