We were only just thinking about the struggles Microsoft’s had with its first-gen Surface tablets, specifically the Surface RT, as news arrived that sales of this year’s new Surface 2 models could be off to a strong start. But even as Microsoft gets ready to put the original Surface RT behind it, it doesn’t look like it’s quite willing to forget about just how bit a mess that all was, and at least some of the blame is falling on Steve Ballmer – and his pocketbook.
Microsoft just published its 2013 proxy statement, which discusses executive compensation. Now, Microsoft’s a big company, and a lot of factors weight in to payment decisions. A lot of good stuff is said about Ballmer’s leadership performance over the past year, but the board is very clear about some of his failings. As the statement notes, in reference to decisions regarding Ballmer’s compensation, “slower than anticipated sales of Surface RT devices and the decision to reduce prices to accelerate sales resulted in a $900 million inventory charge.”
That wasn’t the only hiccup – Windows 8 in general was less than the hit Microsoft wanted – but with everything taken together, the board elected to knock down Ballmer’s bonus package a bit, only awarding him 79% of what he was eligible for.
Sure, that still leaves hundreds of thousands of dollars for his bonus this year, and Ballmer already has billions to his name, but at least Microsoft’s not trying to pretend that everything went as planned with the Surface RT, even if the gesture lacks a lot of weight.