Last month Forbes.com listed five CEOs who should have already been fired, including two from top tech companies. Cisco's John Chambers was listed as #5, cited for not giving the company a good growth strategy. Microsoft's Steve Balmer topped the list of chief executives needing to leave: as the author notes, "[w]ithout a doubt, Mr. Ballmer is the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today." Over the last few years Microsoft has been lacking strategic direction and has completely missed the mark on key growth markets (mobile, cloud, tablets, and now Big Data).
While it is fun to pick on Microsoft, the real story here is how tech companies perform as they approach middle age. The hi-tech companies that emerged in the late 70s and early 80s are now moving into a new and somewhat uncharted phase of development. These tech giants are now being undercut by the younger and nimbler companies they once were themselves. IBM's success is probably the best precedent to follow, but keep in mind it had to totally transform itself into a different company. So the question is what do these middle-age tech companies need to do to stay at the forefront of a rapidly changing tech market, and more importantly, what type of CEO is required to lead them?
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