Hedge Fund President Denounces Microsoft CEO

Dennis Faas's picture

David Einhorn, President of hedge fund Greenlight Capital, has publicly encouraged Microsoft to fire CEO Steve Ballmer, going so far as to criticize the big-name exec for what Einhorn believes has been a "Charlie Brown" management style.

The comments were made about Microsoft's Steve Ballmer at this month's Ira Sohn Research Conference, held to raise money towards combating childhood diseases. Einhorn has made headlines of late for offering $200 million for a minority stake in baseball's New York Mets.

Although the setting wasn't quite where one might expect to hear a tirade about Microsoft management, it's exactly what Einhorn set about doing, calling Ballmer's presence as CEO "the biggest overhang on Microsoft stock." (Source: yahoo.com)

Einhorn Criticizes Research and Development Disasters

Einhorn criticized Ballmer for being unable to adapt to new trends and for wasting billions of research and development dollars on projects that don't make sense.

"He's allowed competitors to beat Microsoft in huge areas, including search, mobile-communications software, tablet computing and social networking," Einhorn declared.

"Even worse, his response to these failures has been to pour tremendous resources into efforts to develop his way out of these holes." (Source: bloomberg.com)

Einhorn is not just an outside observer. As of the end of the fiscal first quarter, his company, Greenlight Capital, currently holds more than nine million shares of Microsoft stock worth an estimated $230 million. According to the Wall Street Cheat Sheet, that makes Microsoft Greenlight's eighth-largest holding right now.

Einhorn Famous for Public Attacks

This isn't the first time Einhorn has used the Sohn conference to make a splash. In 2008 he famously trashed Lehman Brothers for the housing market debacle, just months before Lehman Brothers was driven out of business.

Despite his criticisms of Ballmer, Einhorn still thinks Microsoft stock represents a bargain right now -- even if its CEO appears fumbling at times.

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