Microsoft employees rate Steve Ballmer as tech's worst CEO. How long can he last?

By Preston Gralla

The site glassdoor.com says the approval rating of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer from his employees is the lowest of any major tech company -- a dismal 40%. Given this latest piece of bad news, how long can he last at Microsoft?

For the last two years, Glassdoor.com has regularly surveyed employees of a dozen major tech companies and asks them to rate their CEOs. It just announced the latest year's rankings, and the news couldn't be worse for Ballmer. His approval rating is down in the dumps, at 40%. The next worst CEO rating is well above his, eBay's John Donahoe at 46%.

At the top is outgoing Google CEO Eric Schmidt, with 96%, followed closely by Steve Jobs (on health leave) with 95%.

Ballmer also has the distinction of having the second biggest decline of any of the CEOs, falling from a poor 46% last year to the dismal 40% this year.

Below, from the glassdoor site, you can see the ranking, and then underneath that, from the site, a comparison of Schmidt's, Bartz's and Ballmer's approval rating over the last several years. Not a pretty picture, is it?

glassdoor.com CEO ratings
[Image credit: Glassdoor.com]

Ratings of Steve Ballmer, Eric Schmidt, and Carol Bartz
[Image credit: Glassdoor.com]

 At this rate, how long can Ballmer last? He has been frequently criticized by many outside of Microsoft for lacking vision. On his watch, Google zoomed to dominate Internet search, and Apple and Google have dominated the smartphone business -- the two greatest growth areas in tech.

Even the Microsoft board, which generally supports Ballmer, no matter what he does, has been restive. Back in September, they gave him only half of his potential bonus, and faulted him for:

the unsuccessful launch of the Kin phone; loss of market share in the company's mobile phone business; and the need for the Company to pursue innovations to take advantage of new form factors.

As the glassdoor rating shows, he's clearly lost the trust of his employees as well. With a lukewarm rating by the board, with his employees clearly not behind him, and with constant outside criticism, it's not clear how long his tenure will be at Microsoft.

Ballmer has said that he plans to retire in 2018. Don't count on him lasting that long.

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