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BLOG: For Microsoft, going private may not be such a bad idea

Andy Patrizio | April 4, 2013
What does Microsoft have left to gain by being public when the stock is at a standstill?

More important than compliance headaches is the complete monomania of Wall Street. It cares about a single thing: growth. If you don't have a growth story, they don't want to hear it. No company ever earned a Buy rating because it increased employee healthcare coverage or improved customer service.

Microsoft has a complicated, multi-year strategy to execute. It needs time and patience, something people clearly do not have with Windows RT. What better way to execute than to do it outside of the impatient eyes of Wall Street analysts who only care about next quarter's projections. It's not easy to implement a multi-year strategy when four times a year you have to hear 'what are you going to do for me next quarter?'

Don't tell me HP couldn't benefit from this. Meg Whitman is doing her best and seems to be slowly righting the ship, but because people take the quarter-to-quarter view, and not the long view like a CEO with an ounce of vision has to take, she can't get a break.

Intel's stock is exactly where it was when Paul Otellini took over the firm in 2005. Back then, it was a $38 billion company, its products had lost major ground to AMD, it was under SEC and EU investigation and was being sued by AMD. Intel is now a $54 billion company, its revamped chips have laid waste to AMD so badly it's no longer a competitive company, and all of the legal headaches are gone. And this is the thanks he gets for it.

Microsoft would similarly be well-served to operate in quiet for a while. The company has its own transition and transformation to address and it would be nice to do it without the quarterly dog-and-pony show. It won't shield Ballmer from the criticism he has coming in response to Windows 8, but it would give him a chance to take a long view and actually execute on it without constant interruption.


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