We’ve often mentioned how important it is to have a key individual responsible for driving innovation in a corporation. Everyone is now wondering how much Microsoft’s focus and fortunes could change. The Economist, like multiple other publications, has published an article titled “After Bill” where there has been some discussion on Microsoft’s newfound interest in Cloud computing.
So how important is the CEO profile for sustaining a highly innovative company? While the business literature often cautions against having founders run companies too long, there is evidence that in some instances its these very folks that are needed to sustain innovation. Steve Jobs returned to revitalize Apple and he did with the iPod and iPhone. Jamie Houghton brought Corning back to life after its nose dive during the Telecom bust. Michael Dell returned to assist a foundering Dell Corp., and Howard Schultz too has reclaimed his CEO role at Starbucks.
On Friday, Bill Gates stepped down and left the helm to Steve Balmer a long time friend and colleague who has worked with Bill at Microsoft for 33 years. Balmer is known for his ability to digest large chunks of data. His sales and marketing prowess complemented Gates’s technical acumen as Microsoft grew. Is one side of this duo enough? Will Balmer’s math excellence turn into number crunching and away from innovation?