I think it's possible. However, even more possible, I think, is that a Steve Ballmer departure is inevitable.
Last year, I wrote a posting on this blog (tongue in cheek at the time) entitled "Why I want Bill Gates Back." That was then. A year later I stand by what I said; only this time without the tongue in my cheek.
And, I'm not alone.
Steve Ballmer still has the backing of his board of directors at Microsoft (including Bill Gates). However, some of Wall Street's most influential voices are rumbling for Ballmer's removal.
David Einhorn, who is considered a rock star hedgefund manager and credited for being one of the lone voices that predicted the implosion of Lehman Brothers, is now creating a stir saying its time for Ballmer to go. Einhorn's Greenlight Capital is also a significant Microsoft shareholder.
"His continued presence is the biggest overhang on Microsoft's stock,"
- David Einhorn
Here's a couple of other bring-back-Bill headlines circulating:
"Steve Ballmer, Meet Your Replacement" - SAI, Business Insider
The case against Ballmer is pretty easy to make:
1. Microsoft stock has been flat as a pancake under his tenure.
2. Take a look at what has happened on his watch: Windows Vista, the Zune, just to name a couple.
3. Take a look at what has NOT happened on his watch: a tablet, a smartphone with legs, just to name a couple. Indeed Microsoft, so far, has slept through the emergence of the mobile web.
I could go on and on. But, that's kind of my point. We're all kind of sick of it. Microsoft, it's time to pick yourself up and be a player again.
That leads to the seconf half of all this speculation: Bill? Should he come back?
I vote, yes! If not Bill Gates, then who? Microsoft is in a malaise. It needs more than a new CEO who looks good on paper with the right background in launching new products, trimming the fat, blah blah blah. There are plenty of folks around with that kind of resume. But, Microsoft needs to be inspired again. It needs to return to its take-no-prisoners swagger. It needs a return to its greatness. The key word in that sentence is "return." In other words, Microsoft needs Bill.
The question is, would he?