Reed Hastings to Steve Ballmer: Sorry, It's Over


About an hour after market close last night, Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) issued a press release announcing changes to its board of directors. And that would be routine, expect for the man leaving: Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix (NAS: NFLX) and a director since March 2007.

"Reed has been a terrific board member, and his insights and experience have really helped guide us through a critical period of transformation for both Microsoft and the industry," CEO Steve Ballmer said in the press release.

He didn't name a replacement in announcing the news, though Microsoft needs one: Hastings served as the company's lead independent director.

Either one of Mr. Softy's newest board members -- John W. Thompson, CEO of Virtual Instruments and former CEO of Symantec (NAS: SYMC) , and Steve Luczo, chief of Seagate Technology (NAS: STX) -- could fill the vacancy Hastings is leaving to address other matters.

"I've decided to reduce the number of boards I serve on, so that I can focus on Netflix and on my education work," Hastings said in the press release.

His agenda includes serving on the boards of Facebook (NAS: FB) and the non-profit Startup America Partnership. And then, of course, there is Netflix, which is battling not only a tough competitor in (NAS: AMZN) but also a tossed salad of divergent analyst views.

In the meantime, Mr. Softy will get by with nine board members, all of whom will seek re-election when the company holds its annual meeting in Bellevue, Wash., on Nov. 28. Ballmer could also use the event to name a new lead independent director.

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