by Lance Turner
Posted 7/23/2013 10:04 am
Updated 9 months ago
Jeffrey Ubben of ValueAct, an activist investor who once sat on the board of directors for Acxiom Corp. of Little Rock, has set his sights on a new target: Microsoft.
This, as the tech giant's investors grow unhappy about the direction of the company, which has stuggled with its new operating system, its Surface tablet computer and the smartphone business.
According to Quartz, ValueAct has been been working for months to get a seat on the Microsoft board, even negotiating directly with CEO Steve Ballmer:
Now some shareholders have their hopes pinned on ValueAct, which is known for working behind the scenes to push for changes at a company. Microsoft has given ValueAct access to its financials, sources say. In the past, ValueAct has been able to force major change at other firms—for instance, Sara Lee and Motorola—even when it only had one board seat.
Ubben sat on the Acxiom board from 2006 to 2008. Acxiom and ValueAct battled during 2005, when ValueAct made repeated offers to buy the data services company and accused Acxiom executives of poor management.
ValueAct, along with Silver Lake Partners, reached an agreement with Acxiom, the led by Charles Morgan, to purchase the company in 2007, but the deal was eventually called off.
So what does Ubben and company want for Microsoft? A focus on cloud computing:
“In three to five years, which is our time horizon, we’ll stop talking about PC cycles and instead talk about Microsoft as the largest cloud-computing company in the world,” ValueAct CEO Jeffrey Ubben said today at a conference in New York.