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

About an hour after market close last night, Microsoft (Nasdaq: 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 (Nasdaq: 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 (Nasdaq: SYMC  ) , and Steve Luczo, chief of Seagate Technology (Nasdaq: 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 (Nasdaq: FB  ) and the non-profit Startup America Partnership. And then, of course, there is Netflix, which is battling not only a tough competitor in Amazon.com (Nasdaq: 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.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Netflix at the time of publication. He also had a long-term call options position in Netflix. Check out Tim's web home, portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Netflix, Amazon.com, Microsoft, and Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Netflix, Facebook, and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bear put ladder position in Netflix. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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