Beginning of the end for Microsoft's Ballmer? Hedge fund "star" says he should resign.

By Preston Gralla

There have been plenty of people in the technorati who have said that the only way Microsoft will thrive is if CEO Steve Ballmer steps down. But now someone with a lot more influence is saying he should resign: Influential hedge fund manager David Einhorn says it's time for Ballmer to go.

Reuters reports that Einhorn, who Reuters calls a "star" and runs the Greenlight Capital hedge fund:

has called for Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer to step down, saying the world's largest software company's long-time leader is stuck in the past.

Reuters reports:

Speaking at the annual Ira Sohn Investment Research Conference in New York on Wednesday, Einhorn said it was time for Ballmer -- who succeeded co-founder Bill Gates in 2000 -- to step aside and "give someone else a chance."

"His continued presence is the biggest overhang on Microsoft's stock," he said.

Greenlight holds 9 million shares of Microsoft, according to Reuters, so Einhorn certainly has a reason to want to see the company's value increase. Reuters notes that Microsoft stock has slowly declined in the last ten years, and points out that "An investor who put $100,000 into Microsoft stock 10 years ago would now have about $69,000 worth."

Plenty has gone wrong on Ballmer's watch --- Google became dominant on the Internet, and Google and Apple dominate mobile, including tablets. Microsoft has become reliant on yesterday's technology, not today's and tomorrow's.

Even Microsoft employees are not happy --- the site says his approval rating from his employees is the lowest of any major tech company.

And this past year, Ballmer was given a slap by the company's compensation committee when it gave him only half of his possible bonus due to failures related to the Kin, mobile phones, and tablets.

Having an influential hedge fund manager call for his resignation is something new, though. That call, by itself, won't force Ballmer to resign. But it could be the start of others asking that he step down as well. At this rate, I'd bet that Ballmer won't last until 2018, the year he says he'll leave the company.

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