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Should Bill Gates Return to Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)?

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Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is licking its wounds once again, as one of the most reliable companies in the tech sector for most of the last 30 years, suffered a humiliating miss on its earnings report last week, reporting a $900 million write-off on unsold Surface tablets – a monumental misjudgment of demand that the company does not usually conduct. The company is usually known for its accuracy and lack of inventory, but the first foray into hardware did not make much of  dent in the tablet market through the first six months of its existence. (We framed the Surface in some context, like here.)

The miss was so great, in fact, that the stock market punished Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) by sending its stock down 12 percent in one day, which was the biggest one-day drop for the stock since 2000 – about the time that current CEO Bill GatesSteve Ballmer took over as CEO. Gates has not had an active role with the company since he retired from Microsoft life in June 2008, spending most of the last five years in philanthropic work heading his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

But as seems to be the case whenever Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) posts some shakiness and moves  more violently than a blue-chip stock should, some rumors get started about whether Ballmer is on the hot seat, and if so, who might replace him. What is interesting is that a reasonably respected news outlet, the Australia version of International Business Times put out the refrain of the old rumor without attribution or sources. The report basically starts up the talk that Gates may be looking to take back the CEO post from Ballmer until Microsoft can get back on track.

While Gates doesn’t need to work at Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) anymore – his net worth is estimated at about $72 billion, with a “b” – it seems that this talk has been coming up whenever Microsoft posts a miss on its earnings report, and the once-steady-and-reliable stock takes a precipitous fall. While we don’t know whether Gates has been approached about returning to the chief executive’s suite in the last five years, he was quoted before as saing he had no intention of returning to the company.

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