Gates owned a little under half of the company when it first went public 27 years ago. He currently owns more than 4.5% of Microsoft's shares, though he is selling 80 million shares per year as part of a pre-arranged plan. As Gates currently owns 378 million shares, he will be out of shares by 2018 if he continues selling at that rate.
But, these three unnamed investors – who represent about 5% of shares in the company – don't want Gates out of the stock as much as they want him out of the board room. Since stepping down as CEO in 2000, Gates has retained the title of Chairman of the Board. The three investors reportedly believe Microsoft can't make important changes in the company as long as Gates exerts his influence.
From the date Microsoft went public (March 17, 1986) until Gates stepped down, shares in the tech giant soared fairly steadily by 55,634.86%. That means an investment of $1,800 at Microsoft's IPO would have given you $1 million 14 years later.
On eve of Gates' departure and Ballmer's ascension as CEO in 2000, Microsoft – valued at nearly $619 billion – was the world's most valuable company. Since then, it has been knocked off its perch by the likes of Apple and Google. Shares under Ballmer are now 36.5% less than when he first took charge. Microsoft now has a market cap of under $280 billion.
(Watch: Microsoft without Bill Gates?)
So, is having Gates around a real problem for Microsoft? Or does Microsoft need Gates more than he needs them?
Looking at the fundamentals is Erin Gibbs, Equity Chief Investment Officer at S&P Capital IQ Global Markets Intelligence. Gibbs is responsible for over $5 billion in equity assets under advisory. Analyzing the charts under both Gates and Ballmer and what it means for the future is Talking Numbers contributor Richard Ross, Global Technical Strategist at Auerbach Grayson.
Is Microsoft better off without Gates? Watch the video to see what the fundamentals and technicals have to say about it.
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